Students and staff at a north Northumberland high school are taking centre stage after bagging a top national award.
The Duchess’s Community High School, Alnwick, can hold its head high after it was ranked outstanding in art, drama, music and dance by a prestigious national panel.
The school has been awarded an Artsmark Gold Award by Arts Council England and Trinity College, London, which looks at four main strands of the arts which need to be outstanding in all areas.
Anyone who lives in the Alnwick area will probably know of the achievements the school’s arts department has made.
With the evolvement of student-led productions, external links with Alnwick Playhouse, Tyne and Wear Museums and the Baltic, it is no surprise that the programmes have created confident and vibrant young professionals, some of whom now star in national theatre productions, work at top London galleries and have gone on to win national awards themselves.
Schools can be awarded the Artsmark award or Artsmark Gold. The latter is only awarded to top performing establishments with only 15 per cent of secondary schools nationally achieving the standard.
The arts department is over-the-moon that it was awarded the Artsmark Gold following a lengthy application and validation process. It has been aiming for the award for years.
The application was led by head of the art and creative arts faculty Ruth Brown.
She said: “We are enormously proud of this award and of our students. They have always been gold standard in our eyes and this award confirms this on a national level.
“This is an outstanding achievement and deserved recognition for all the students, staff and wider arts practitioners and organisations who have dedicated so much time, energy and passion, both during and extra-curricular. Clearly, the student body are such a vibrant collective group of students who don’t just work in one genre, they work across the arts forums. They also work so hard with extra-curricular, whether it’s musical theatre studies, doing art work or exhibitions.
“This was a real feather in their cap to say actually, we recognise, and have done for a long time, about how outstanding our students are.
“I think for us, in our current climate of quite a big shift and change in arts provision in schools and education in general, this was a real opportunity for us to say, no actually, we and the school thoroughly believe in the arts and the value it brings to students.”