As part of the Attain Academy, we have taken part in the cultural champion program run by the Royal Opera House, and are now part of an innovation team within the academy to increase the profile of arts and culture within school, and to build on the opportunities available for children. Through this at Bocking, we are striving to provide varied and high-quality opportunities both within the classroom and as extra-curricular activities. Most recently, these have included a trip to the Royal Opera House to watch Cinderella; a creative entry into a school eco-event, where we won £100 towards our project; visits from authors through Scholastic and World of Stories; an academy wide cultural festival in Colchester where we presented a song and poetry written by our Year 6 class, and won two categories in the art competition; a visit to Layer Marney Tower to watch the dress rehearsal of the opera Elixir of Love and partnerships with the Royal Opera House, Essex Music Service, Stavehouse and Wild Arts to embed specialist teaching within the music curriculum. As we continue on our Artsmark journey, we will only be increasing these opportunities, we have already applied for tickets for next year’s Royal Opera House matinee; are looking forward to learning about Wild Arts next show The Magic Flute and are planning to take part in the Braintree Vocal Project.
After the limitations of lockdown, we are seeking to enhance our local community partnerships. Our choir have visited the local nursing home; out and about club planted daffodils in the nursing home garden; we have been running an Arts for the Elderly club after school and every child throughout the school painted a pebble for the local cemetery’s new garden project. We are building partnerships with local organisations including the Braintree LCEP (Local Cultural Education Partnership); Wild Arts; World of Stories; Scholastic; Royal Opera House; Mercury Theatre and Saffron Hall, and building on those we already have with Braintree Museum, and the local library.
To ensure that our provision meets the needs and desires of the children, in September they were all asked to fill in a cultural passport, and parents were invited to complete a survey. The results of these were collated and have been used to inform the future opportunities we are seeking to provide our children. We were pleased to see a 25% increase in the children’s engagement with cultural activities over the past school year. This includes things like experiencing classical music (particularly through our composer of the month scheme); attending a sports event; attending a theatre show (for example the Wild Arts dress rehearsal or Cinderella) and doing something within your community (for example visiting the nursing home or taking part in the Arts for the Elderly scheme).
All of this obviously comes at a cost, which is why we have also set up a Pupil Experience Fund. This allows us to subsidise trips and visits for our children, to make them accessible for all. We have already had generous donations from Daniel Robinson Funeral Directors, and an anonymous donor. As a result, we have been able to offer the Royal Opera House trip at a reduced cost; due to extra funding from Wild Arts, that trip was provided free of charge and from next year we will be funding a new music package for singing assemblies and choir. If you, or any businesses you are part of, would be able to contribute to this, please get in touch with the office.