Gold Arts Award supporting the journey to Platinum Artsmark

Gold Arts Award supporting the journey to Platinum Artsmark

Picture of Julie Neville

BY: Julie Neville
05 Sep 2022

In previous posts the blog has highlighted the valuable contribution Arts Award can make to the Artsmark journey for schools and education settings. With Artsmark criteria to be fulfilled including Curriculum Design and Engaging Children and Young People, there’s no question of the importance Arts Award can have on the journey when delivered successfully as a vehicle to support pupil progression and school improvement.

In this blog, we explore more specifically how Gold Arts Award can support settings that are striving towards the Platinum level of Artsmark. Some of the key characteristics of the Platinum Artsmark status are to be stretching the quality of provision of the arts, being an opinion former as part of the setting’s overall ethos and being able to make a difference when it comes to sharing impact.

The following table gives a quick overview of how the two programmes can link at this higher level:

Artsmark key criteria Potential to demonstrate Platinum criteria through Arts Award
Value and ethos Impactful Arts Award offer in KS4, actively working towards Arts Award in other Key Stages
Leadership Names Governor for arts and culture is aware of and involved in Arts Award offer, Senior leaders share Arts Award ideas and expertise across a range of settings
CYP engagement Young people are ambassadors for Arts Award, and can lead CPD in school and out
Curriculum design Supporting other settings to design their Arts Award offer (in a wider range of arts and cultural subjects)
Range of offer Arts Award activity demonstrates a wider range of challenging arts and cultural experiences
CPD Sharing of Arts Award resources and expertise with other settings, leading beyond the school and measuring the impact of this
Partnerships Embedding long lasting partnerships as part of Arts Award delivery, with positive impact on young people
Equality and diversity Ensuring Arts Award access for all pupils and sharing practice with other settings


I have the insight of being an Arts Award Subject Expert, trainer and moderator for Trinity College London, as well as an Artsmark trainer for Artswork Bridge in the South East region. My roles as part of the two programmes frequently interlink. Over the past year as part of Artswork’s Arts Award Leadership Network* (AALN), I have been mentoring staff at Shenley Brook End School in Milton Keynes. They came to the AALN programme with the key aim of delivering the Gold Arts Award as part of their wider journey to gain Platinum Artsmark status as a school.

Chris Holmwood, who is Headteacher of Shenley Brook End School and 5 Dimensions Trust Chief Education Officer was keen to explore how the characteristics and criteria of the Gold Arts Award could support the school’s Platinum Artsmark journey. I started out by asking Chris and his fellow leadership team some searching questions about their intentions for Arts Award – these can be used or adapted to suit other settings and can support your process of self-assessment as a school in preparation for your Artsmark journey, as you explore your strengths and weaknesses in delivery of the arts:

  • Is Arts Award offered across the curriculum? Is it offered to all students? Do you measure how it supports the raising of standards?
  • Do you actively use Arts Award to develop voice and leadership among students of all ages?
  • How will you grow your offer over the coming 2 years?
  • How will you work through Arts Award to grow arts and cultural partnerships?
  • How do you measure the impact that Arts Award is having on students, staff, the wider school?
  • Do you actively promote career pathways in arts and culture? Do you use Arts Award as a vehicle for this?
  • Is Arts Award on the School Improvement Plan?
  • Do students help to plan the school’s approach to the award?

Arts Award advisers at the school then set about designing a Gold opportunity for students that reflected some of the key Artsmark criteria at Platinum level. This included a student-led approach to the design of the Gold journey, the opportunity to champion wide-ranging artforms, the inclusion of external partners, as well as students leading on enrichment activity, gaining meaningful career pathway experience and advocating for the arts and Arts Award to their peers and to other schools.

Among the Gold portfolios are examples of one participant creating and leading a new characterMilton-Keynium-scaled design club for students; the beginning of a new cultural partnership with a local arts café; a participant leading a new performance with the school’s saxophone ensemble; and a volunteering project with hard-to-reach students from the school in partnership with a charity.

Headteacher Chris Holmwood said, ‘This whole process is significantly re-shaping and refining the quality of our curriculum. It is growing the leadership, creativity and opportunity of our students and the personal and professional qualities that they develop are truly impressive!’

For further resources linking Arts Award to Artsmark at all award levels visit:

Artsmark and Arts Award case studies: Webinar Nov 2021

How Artsmark can support the Arts Award journey: Webinar Feb 21

Artsmark links with Arts Award: Resource

*The Arts Award Leadership Network (AALN) is a growing movement of organisations and leaders across the South East dedicated to the sustainable development of Arts Award across all settings and levels. Mentees in the programme enjoy unique access to these peer mentors, who will support and guide them through a range of bespoke aims and objectives. These will firmly embed Arts Award into their work with children and young people.

Image: Artwork by Renee, ‘The Tale of Milton Keynium’. Commissioned by Black Sheep Theatre during her Gold Unit 1 Part B work experience. This project has since led to further freelance work for the student.

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