Achieving Arts Award Explore using Charanga’s interactive digital log

Achieving Arts Award Explore using Charanga’s interactive digital log

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BY: Guest Writer
27 Feb 2024

Ruth Jones, Arts Award lead at Charanga, the customisable music teaching and learning platform, and one of our partner organisations, tells us how 32 talented members of the Steel Band at Fairchildes Primary School in Croydon, achieved their Arts Award Explore after a successful pilot of Charanga’s interactive Arts Award Explore log.

Charanga provides schools with a wide range of music education resources, including interactive creative tools and a Digital Audio Workstation called YuStudio. All students can access YuStudio through the student-facing workspace, Yumu. Yumu is a password-protected learning space for pupils that supports their music-making in and outside the classroom.

As part of our partnership with Arts Award we successfully developed and launched an interactive digital Bronze Arts Award portfolio for secondary schools - and our next step was to develop a digital Arts Award Explore log that Key Stage 2 (KS2) pupils can use.

All teachers with a Charanga log in have their own space called My Workspace, where they can collectExplore class teacher progress view and organise resources, manage students and upload assessment evidence. Teachers create their own student groups for different classes or projects and can assign and check the progress of each pupil’s digital Arts Award logs and portfolios. In this case the cohort was moderated so using Charanga’s optional sharelink for the individual digital logs made the process seamless.

Once the Bronze portfolio was successfully up and running we decided to pilot the digital Explore log with Sally Gardner, Deputy Head at Fairchildes Primary School in Croydon.

Creative and Performing Arts Lead, Sally, along with teaching staff across the whole of Fairchildes Primary School were already regularly using Charanga to enhance their exciting and vibrant music curriculum. Sally had also been a guest speaker at the Music Mark national music education conference where she explained her approach in engaging and inspiring less confident, non-specialist teachers to lead high quality music lessons. The school had already delivered Arts Award with a visual arts focus - but this was their first time doing a music themed Arts Award project and Sally wanted to focus on the school’s KS2 steel pan band, which would help celebrate the band’s achievements and give members a qualification.

Sally described the interactive Explore log as ‘invaluable’

'Working with Charanga was exciting and the digital log gave a dynamic feel to the children’s work.  Interviewing talented composer and teacher Paul Dowie gave insight into Steel Pan as a career option. Aspiration included! The children’s own excellence in music was also celebrated seamlessly with composing workshops with their pan playing teacher Leanne, who allowed them to flex their creativity! (Many children fed back that this was their favourite part.)  Partnering with Charanga gave me as the Arts Award adviser and Creative lead, support to allow the children creative freedom to record their journey their way, but with a well sequenced digital format that was in place for me to run with. Ruth was already having further ideas during the pilot for how we could seamlessly integrate video and visuals to enrich the digital format further.  Taking part at a pilot level, we could see so many ways that a digital Arts Award set up with such easy access could be a vehicle for children’s creativity to shine.'

Arts Award Explore log student viewThe band members worked hard to improve their steel band playing technique and progression for Explore Part A (take part). They also learnt new musical scales, built their confidence through performing with the school choir, and showcased their abilities at the school’s talent show.

During Part B (explore), the students interviewed musician and band leader, Paul Dowie. They found out that Paul also attended Fairchildes school and went on to be the founder of Croydon Steel Orchestra. This enabled them to develop their understanding of both Paul’s life, career and the ensemble. They also interviewed Lucie Vezey, the Assistant Head of Service at Croydon Music and Arts. Through this they learnt how to get involved in various activities, including work experience, and developed their understanding of a music hub’s role in supporting music education in their area.

For Part C, (create), the band members got creative and put their learning into practice. Using the notes and scales they learnt in Part A, they improvised, composed their own musical pieces, and experimented with chords on their steel pans.

They presented their findings, achievements, and newfound skills to Paul Dowie and Lucie Vezey at a special assembly presentation for Part D (share). They demonstrated what they had accomplished during the project through a mixture of live performance and exhibiting slide shows.

We supported the school during the pilot and the Charanga Arts Award team carried out assessmentphoto certificates presentation remotely using access to the digital logs. Feedback from the pupils during the pilot means that the digital logs are now much more colourful and inviting! I was delighted to visit the school to meet the students and present them with their certificates at a special assembly. The ceremony involved the whole school and created a real buzz among pupils and teachers, inspiring others to complete their own Arts Award.

Any school new to Charanga can request a 30-day complimentary trial to explore the platform, including the Arts Award logs and portfolios. After a trial, there’s no obligation to subscribe, and Charanga doesn't take payment details for free trials.

Schools with a Charanga licence can give students their own log or portfolio by providing them with a Yumu account. Teachers supporting students working towards Arts Award at Discover, Explore (primary), and Bronze levels (secondary) can access resources, including teacher guides and a Charanga partnership Arts Award discount.

For more information, or to request a CPD session please email


Top banner image: members of Fairchildes Primary School Steel Pan Band

Top right: Explore class teacher progress view

Top left: Explore log student view

Bottom right: Ruth Jones presenting Explore certificates to students at Fairchildes Primary School

Photography credit: Alice Rose Photography, @alicerose_photography

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