Transforming your primary school through singing and Arts Award

Transforming your primary school through singing and Arts Award

Picture of Julie Neville

BY: Julie Neville
03 Oct 2022

Earlier this summer, blog-readers will have read about our partnership with Out of the Ark Music, teasing the imminent launch of Sparkyard, their brand-new digital platform for schools. We’re delighted to bring you news of the launch of Sparkyard, its direct links to Arts Award Discover and Explore, and the wider benefits of singing in primary schools.

We’ve been talking to Georgia Cooke (Head of Marketing) and Leigh Barnett (Senior Editor) at Out of the Ark to find out more about the wider value singing brings to primary schools.

‘One of the main benefits of singing that we have always seen at Out of the Ark is on children’s wellbeing, and this is now particularly important since Covid struck. The pandemic is still very fresh for so many children and was a big part of their lives. Being able to feel happy and secure at school is so important and we all know that singing can lift the mood. Staff can choose energetic songs, or calming songs depending on need. Songs can also help to reintroduce routine during the school day, such as a ‘hello’ song, or ‘Line Up, Line Up’. Our research demonstrates the positive impact that singing has on wellbeing as well as attainment across subjects.’

‘We want children to be singing all around the school, not just in music lessons. We know that remembering song lyrics is a brilliant way of learning facts, as they really stick in your mind. The links between music and memory are really strong, so singing can help embed learning in every classroom. Out of the Ark has also developed a series of cross-curricular singing resources for use in maths, English, science and all other curriculum areas. These can be purchased in a physical book and CD format, or through our exciting new digital platform, Sparkyard.’

MusicHub-EditableFlyer-Block4Sparkyard is described as a visionary approach to primary education, supporting staff to place singing at the heart of the school, for transformational results. It is an easy-to-use subscription service jam-packed with almost 1000 songs, assemblies and teaching resources, as well as a bespoke, flexible music curriculum. Within Sparkyard, there is a ‘Collections’ area, where teachers can gather together songs, guides, curriculum links and much more, according to their individual needs. Here you will find an Arts Award Collection, featuring suggested playlists as a starting point, downloadable Discover and Explore log books for children to use when creating evidence of their Arts Award journey, plus a teacher guide.

‘We hope that, through Sparkyard, teachers will be doing lots of singing in their classrooms linked to a variety of topics, so just by giving the children that opportunity to sing, they will be fulfilling Discover and Explore Part A: Take Part. Where a second arts activity is required in Explore Part A, Sparkyard provides lots of links to ideas for extended artform activity. For example, after singing the song ‘Fireworks!’, they might go on and create visual artwork about fireworks or write a poem inspired by the song. We have also produced a list of ‘Creative ideas’ for Explore Part C: Create, which can be found on our Arts Award web page or in Sparkyard’s Arts Award Collection.’

Alongside the bespoke Sparkyard Discover and Explore resources, Out of the Ark has produced log books to support teachers in achieving Arts Awards through putting on a musical, mini-musical or class assembly, nativity or pantomime.

‘Putting on a musical at primary level usually involves the whole school, including all the different creative subject leaders, whether it’s through singing, acting, making costumes or designing the scenery. Out of the Ark recognises that Arts Award is not an extra, it’s a framework for the work that teachers are already doing and so it can be easily achieved through putting on a show or one of our class assemblies. With Christmas fast approaching, we are seeing lots of schools purchasing a nativity or musical which will then appear directly in their Sparkyard account.’*

For finding out about and exploring artists and arts organisations (Discover and Explore Part B), the Out of the Ark website features biographies of their songwriters. In their log books, children are also encouraged to think about the other artists involved in the process such as recording engineers, scriptwriters, singers and graphic designers.

Once a school has subscribed to Sparkyard, all teachers in the school can access the platform underMusicHub-EditableFlyer-Block5 that subscription, and they can also personalise it. So, if one teacher builds a collection, he or she can then share it with other staff. This function is very useful for Arts Award advisers to share with other colleagues in school who are supporting the children’s journey, and especially for those staff who are not music specialists. All songs have the Words on ScreenTM function making them easy to learn, and very accessible for non-music specialist teachers to lead.

Sparkyard’s sharing function is also a very popular and useful feature, allowing up to 35 song-links to be sent home with children. So when children are learning a new song, such as one about times tables or perhaps a musical*, teachers can send the link home so pupils can carry on practising outside school.

Out of the Ark share our values around access and inclusion.

At Out of the Ark we believe that singing can and should be inclusive. We have worked closely with British Sign Language (BSL) specialists, Makaton specialists, teachers, deaf and hearing adults, and children to produce instructional signing videos and a growing range of SEND resources, to help promote inclusion in a mainstream class. All of these resources can be accessed within Sparkyard.’

Sparkyard is currently offering a free 30-day trial to those curious to find out more.

*Although Out of the Ark’s nativities and musicals are not included in a Sparkyard subscription, if a school purchases a nativity or musical separately, this can then be accessed through Sparkyard.

'[Sparkyard] has now become the backbone of my teaching this term... most importantly, I can hear the children singing songs all over our school. Thank you, Sparkyard!'  Ruth Coles, Blackheath High School

Out of the Ark's Sparkyard Discover log book and teacher guide are available as part of our new, free-to-access collection of downloadable resources, focussed on Discover. Access the Arts Award Discover resources here.

As part of the partnership between Arts Award and Out of the Ark we are offering a discounted rate to all schools and partner arts organisations who are running Arts Award linked to Out of the Ark’s programmes. This discount is available for Arts Award Discover and Explore, and will run until 31 March 2023. You can find out more here or for further information email

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