The Arts: a legacy is born

Jenny Hill, Head of Arts, The Gateway Academy

As a teacher of the arts I thought that the rapid progress our pupils was making would be suspended given the proliferation of online learning. I thought the legacy would be never wanting to teach online again. How wrong I was.

In the arts we strive to give children the confidence to be autonomous learners, a layer of independence that the identity and character of students can be expressed through the artwork, photography, dance, drama and music performances.

In face-to-face lessons, opinions of the works of professionals and peers is in the eye of the beholder; what one person likes, another may not. All opinions count, but listening to others opinions is just as important as stressing your own. That interpretation of performance or images varies, we draw on life experiences to form our own judgements, and we will do so when interpreting works of art.

The life experiences of this past year have been isolating, traumatic, lonely, reflective and yet also confidence building. Students were able to work behind the computer screen, truly identifying with ideas and concepts that may have been overshadowed in a class of 30 students. Students became keyboard warriors but with respect and admiration for their team. The 30 members of the classroom were now getting constructive criticism from students who wouldn't always feel confident to share their views. Online critiquing opened up a positive can of worms that needs to be remembered. The use of digital peer assessment, dedicating time to students sharing their work and invigorating yet simple platforms like Jamboard provided group brainstorms in minutes to inspire and hook the creative ideologies.

Alongside this, the quality of work from students has retained its fantastic status; undoubtedly there are areas for progression, but the general consensus from the staff in the arts team is that quality wasn’t compromised. This was wholly due to our engaging with the disengaged strategies, adapted curriculum and maintaining the standards of work amongst students to remind them of expectations.

Our students develop independence through a curriculum that scaffolds knowledge, skills and understanding and also the promotion of self directed study to allow students to embark on a journey that develops their work beyond the constraints of the classroom. We allow students to progress and believe in their capabilities. We have a vested interest to promote mini-practitioners.

We aim to continue to encourage students to extend, explore and expand their creative thinking, allowing the acceleration of teaching via the digital platform to continue without compromising the tactile needs of art and photography, the power and energy with a live audience for the performing arts and the dedication and passion for the curiosity of creativity.

I am immensely proud of the team and of the students. It proves that from adversity can grow amazing things.

How we choose what we do, and how we approach it…will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur, or to something resembling a work of art. —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi



Zoonation dance on demand online lessons:

Royal Academy of Dance- online dance classes in street dance and contemporary

Emancipation of expressionism- Motif phrases and q&a with the dancers/choreographer


Lockdown enabled us to focus on some different skills and genres. A new genre for us was Verbatim Theatre. This enabled the students to use interviews and recorded information to help them with creating their own plays. One brilliant source of inspiration was Paper Birds Theatre Company, a professional Verbatim Theatre company which specialises in community verbatim theatre.

The National Theatre also provided us with some excellent resources for our study of Verbatim Theatre:

Art: Link to article about the benefits of the arts to mental health during lockdown. Coronavirus: How artists are depicting the lockdown Resilient Art Galleries turn to virtual exhibitions Guide to the best online exhibitions to view from your sofa Google Arts and culture made more Art accessible

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