Inspectors highlight primary schools’ strengths in the creative arts
Estyn has highlighted a number of primary schools across Wales that are leading the way in the creative arts and whose approaches should be shared and applied more widely.
Estyn’s report, ‘Best practice in teaching and learning in the creative arts at key stage 2’ is accompanied by a short film featuring six primary schools that exemplify the report’s main findings. Examples of lessons in art and design, dance, drama and music illustrate the best practice found by inspectors.
Ann Keane, Chief Inspector, says,
“The creative arts play an important part in Welsh life. There is a growing recognition that children and young people should have a range of exciting opportunities to participate in the creative arts in school.
“The best primary schools give pupils a breadth of experiences through engaging teaching, which uses appropriate resources and visits to heritage sites and theatres as stimulus. Estyn’s report and the accompanying film exemplify a wealth of strategies and ideas and I urge other schools to consider and use them.”
Inspectors found that in the schools visited, standards of pupils’ wellbeing were high. There was also evidence that oracy had improved, partly because the creative arts give pupils exciting experiences to talk about.
Enthusiastic and confident teaching is an essential factor in successful provision for creative arts. Pupils’ standards are best when their teachers have knowledge and expertise, as well as being good classroom practitioners. Too often, the quality of the schools’ provision relies too much on chance and whether or not there is an enthusiastic teacher with specialist skills in the school. Currently, there is too little training or support to help teachers to become more confident in the creative arts.
Pillgwenlly Primary School in Newport promotes the arts to celebrate diversity in the school and wider community. Teachers plan thoroughly so that all pupils have wide and progressive experiences, while leaders take account of pupils who may be vulnerable to under-achievement. Estyn’s short film shows children planning and performing their own ‘haka’ battle dance after discussing and analysing the cultural importance of the New Zealand ritual. The lesson develops pupils’ oral language, their teamwork, confidence and planning skills.
The report contains recommendations for schools, local authorities and regional consortia and the Welsh Government. These include: a stronger focus in schools on planning a progressive sequence of learning opportunities for pupils to experience the creative arts as they move through school; monitoring pupils’ achievement; and working more closely in partnership with other schools on the creative arts. In addition, more opportunities should be provided for teachers to develop their skills in teaching creative arts and the Welsh Government should continue to support schools to make best use of the funding allocated to support pupils from poorer families to take a full part in the arts.
About the report
The evidence base of the report includes visits to a sample of 20 primary schools with identified good practice, and an online survey of 150 randomised schools which had a 21% response rate.
Best practice case studies:
- Ysgol Cynwyd Sant, Bridgend
- Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
- Llangewydd Junior School, Bridgend
- Ysgol-Y-Wern, Cardiff
- Ysgol Twm o’r Nant, Denbighshire
- Tywyn Primary School, Neath Port Talbot
- Pillgwenlly Primary School, Newport
- Milford Haven Junior School, Pembrokeshire
- Fenton Primary School, Pembrokeshire
- Puncheston C.P. School, Pembrokeshire
- Llandiloes C.P. School, Powys
- Ynystawe Primary School, Swansea
- Christchurch (C.I.W), Swansea
- Llanyrafon Primary, Torfaen