A COLLECTION of district schools have been showcasing why they have been awarded with a prestigious arts title.

Artsmark is awarded to schools to develop character and talent, and increase their knowledge and understanding. A group of schools from the Bingley, Keighley and Saltaire areas have come together to make up an Artsmark Cluster, and are the first such cluster to be piloting a new artsmark process.

The six schools, both primary and secondary, recently came together to show their artistic skills as part of a celebration held at Beckfoot School in Bingley.

By coming together in a cluster, the schools are helping each other reach the various different Artsmark levels.

It is currently the only cluster in the UK to be undertaking the award, run by the Arts Council and Cape UK and started in September. The group’s work in art, drama, dance and music is being used by the Artsmark body as “exemplar” material for other schools around the country.

The two schools leading the cluster are Eldwick Primary and Bingley Grammar. The four other schools involved are Beckfoot School and Saltaire, Oldfield and Crossflatts Primaries.

Music, art and dance featured prominently in the celebration, held before the half term break.

There was an animal theme to the evening, which highlighted all the progress the schools have made since signing up.

The concert included a competition piece from the recent Yorkshire Rock Challenge event, The Savannah by Bingley Grammar Year 13 student Alisha Smith, Bingley Grammar Schools Drumline performing a piece they played for the Music for Youth Competition, a harmony group from Beckfoot, and music from the choirs of Eldwick, Crossflatts, Oldfield and Saltaire.

Bingley Grammar School teacher Rachel Oliver said: “All the schools have Artsmark status ranging from emerging through bronze and up to gold.

“We all have a commitment that for three years we will provide excellent to outstanding arts education, including lessons in the classroom, extra curricular and outside experiences.

“The idea behind the cluster is that we help each other gain Artsmark status by sharing good practice, allowing our pupils to gain shared experiences within the arts.

“This event is a celebration of the work going on in each individual school and there will be some joint songs to bring us together.”

The event also included a display of students’ art work.

A spokesman for Saltaire Primary School said: “The ethos driving the Artsmark cluster is to create aspiration and progress through communication, confidence and independent thought.

“We have all benefitted from being part of the collaborative group and the evening provided a wonderful opportunity to come together and showcase some of our artistic and musical talents.

“Artsmark schools gain access to extra resources as well as networks of the country’s top cultural organisations, helping them develop and strengthen their arts provision.”

The awards are seen as a way for schools to engage in the arts and is looked at favourably by school inspection body Ofsted.