Artsmark network final report April 2011 - Arts Council England

Artsmark network final report April 2011 - Arts Council England

Culture – Learning – Ecology - Technology

Researching online communities of practice to inform Artsmark

future developments

Final Report April 2011

Table of Contents

1. Executive summary ......................................................................................................................... 4

1.1 Introduction and background .............................................................................................................. 4

1.2 Aims and objectives ............................................................................................................................. 4

1.3 Our approach ....................................................................................................................................... 5

1.4 Interview research findings: capturing the views of educators .......................................................... 5

1.4.1 Aims ............................................................................................................................................... 5

1.4.2 Summary analysis of interviews with teachers ............................................................................. 6

1.5 Recommendations ............................................................................................................................... 7

1.5.1 How can a web service best support the complete Artsmark cycle? ........................................... 7

1.5.2 What interactivity and networking functionality is suitable? ....................................................... 9

1.5.3 How might Artsmark operate as a service across the wider web? ............................................. 10

1.5.4 Summary of features that would make an effective, usable website ........................................ 10

2. Our approach ................................................................................................................................ 12

2.1 Step one: planning and understanding opportunities and constraints ............................................. 12

2.2 Step two: researching online communities of practice ..................................................................... 12

2.3 Step three: understanding school needs ........................................................................................... 12

2.4 Step four: suggest a suitable model ................................................................................................... 13

2.5 Step five: produce a final report ........................................................................................................ 13

3. Understanding opportunities and constraints: Artsmark online ..................................................... 13

3.1 Aims .................................................................................................................................................... 13

3.2 Methods ............................................................................................................................................. 13

3.3 Findings .............................................................................................................................................. 13

3.3.1 Current Artsmark online presence .............................................................................................. 13

3.3.2 Constraints and opportunities .................................................................................................... 14

3.4 Key issues ........................................................................................................................................... 15

4. Understanding the needs of schools 1: online communities of practice ......................................... 16

4.1 Aims .................................................................................................................................................... 16

4.2 Methodology ...................................................................................................................................... 16

4.3 Findings about Communities of Practice online ................................................................................ 17

4.3.1 Networking by educationalists around the arts .......................................................................... 17

4.4 Findings: Key issues facing educators in engaging online ................................................................. 19

5. Understanding the needs of schools 2: reviewing evidence of the Artsmark evaluation ................. 20

5.1 Aims .................................................................................................................................................... 20

5.2 Methodology ...................................................................................................................................... 21

5.3 The former Artsmark award .............................................................................................................. 21

5.4 The new Artsmark award ................................................................................................................... 24

5.4.1 The application process ............................................................................................................... 24

5.5 Analysis of reports: training and application support needs ............................................................. 26

5.5.1 Overview and explanation........................................................................................................... 26

5.5.2 The need for interactive guidance .............................................................................................. 27

5.5.3 Focusing on forum functionality ................................................................................................. 27

Appendix 1: Detailed findings about online networks ....................................................................... 31

A1.1 Professional organizations that promote research and teaching practice ..................................... 31

A1.2 Independent non-profit and grassroots organisations ................................................................... 34

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


A.1.3 Blogs and social media .................................................................................................................... 38

A.1.5 Industry and media organisations .................................................................................................. 40

A.1.6 Other school marks and their online presence .............................................................................. 42

Appendix 2: Interviews with teachers ............................................................................................... 44

A.2.1 Methodology .................................................................................................................................. 44

A.2.2 The respondents ............................................................................................................................. 45

A.2.3 Findings from teachers who have not been directly involved in applying for Artsmark ............... 47

A.2.4 Findings from teachers who have led Artsmark applications ........................................................ 52

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


1. Executive summary

1.1 Introduction and background

This final report sets out our initial findings and recommendations in accordance with our project


You have completed ten rounds of the prestigious and popular Artsmark national awards scheme for

schools. At this juncture you are reviewing Artsmark to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and to

align it both with Arts Council England’s (ACE’s) ten year strategy ‘Achieving Great Art for Everyone’ and

with emerging arts and education policy. You have identified that guaranteeing quality outcomes and a

simpler online application are important factors in shaping a new scheme. You would also like to

increase the developmental and support side of the programme which is likely to include a more

customer facing website and a wider digital networking strategy.

Planning for developments for the new Artsmark are underway, and you have tested these with new

audience groups including FE colleges and youth justice settings. The new website needs to reflect this

broadening, whilst also better serving the core audience of schools.

This small-scale piece of research informs the building of an online community of practice to support the

new Artsmark and/or utilising existing networking tools. The recommendations aim to maximise contact

you can have with schools (without increasing spending), to promote the benefits of Artsmark and to

better enable teachers to share ideas.

Artsmark will continue to be an ACE-endorsed scheme because of the status this confers, but it may

over time become more independent in terms of its management.

1.2 Aims and objectives

The aim of this research has been:

To research online communities of practices and recommend how a community of practice could be

best developed to support the Artsmark award scheme.

You needed to know:

How can a web service support conversations and networking?

How might it support local elements/clusters, maybe involving local strategic organisations in

this process? How can there be more of a sense that you’re joining a network of

supporters/partners as well as applicants?

At the same time that the site develops functionality, how it can be simple, navigable and usable,

delivering the right service?

How might the web communications interface with other networks online for creative & cultural


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


1.3 Our approach

As per our project plan, our research comprised the following phases:

set up meeting (review project plan, finalised milestones, teacher survey methodology,

deliverables and liaison points)

initial background research (identifying communities of practice and their online networks and

platforms, select good examples and identify key communities of practice for educators in

cultural and creative fields)

establish and understanding of school needs (reviewing Artsmark evidence and evaluations,

school changes relating to teachers’ access to networked devices, creating and implementing a

short survey sent to a range of teachers [primary/secondary, Artsmark schools/non-Artsmark


developing a suitable model for a future web service (providing set of recommendations in final

report, having checked our understanding of questions with expert colleagues in the sector)

reporting (submitting draft final report for comment and iteration; final report).

1.4 Interview research findings: capturing the views of educators

1.4.1 Aims

In order to further understand the needs of educators, we:

Developed an overview of recent and projected changes in schools in terms of teachers’ access

to professional networking online.

Devised a questionnaire with which to interview a range of teachers at both primary and

secondary level. There were two distinct groups, with adapted questions for each. The first

group, from the Flow teacher advisory panel, had an unknown Artsmark status (and most turned

out not to have it). The second group was teachers known to have Artsmark, having been

involved in testing the next phase. This helped us understand needs of potential applicants as

well as applicants familiar with Artsmark. We requested interviews with 25 but due to half-term

we were only able to complete interviews with 15.

From this, we were able to develop an understanding of:

how teachers use online networks

when in the day and using what technology

the constraints for educators

what they might need online when they're applying for school marks

and more positively, what web-based measures might be put in place to inspire them to use

Artsmark to develop practice, and to inspire children and young people to be involved?

Please see Appendix 2 for transcripts of interviewees’ responses to research questions.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


1.4.2 Summary analysis of interviews with teachers

Time is of the essence

The time needed to undertake a major team initiative (applying for Artsmark) alongside competing

initiatives is the major barrier to application. The web service needs to focus on streamlining the process

and needs to promote that as a feature.

A forum is less important than responsiveness

A major finding is that none of the teachers used a web forum to seek support for applying for Artsmark.

Teachers who applied for other marks similarly didn’t make use of the Internet very much. Two

mentioned that they had Googled and found the answer to their question via TES or the website for the

school mark. Nobody wanted to discuss online practice in depth, although they would like to see a

forum focused on key questions. They prefer to hold in-depth discussion with their school colleagues (or

those in a Creative Partnerships network/local cluster or on a training event). This can be explained in

two ways:

i) that there is no interactive content or forum to serve their support needs

ii) that if they can gain support locally they prefer not to seek it virtually.

Any interactivity on a new web service will therefore be ‘generative’ of new approaches and potentially

reach more isolated educators. The current lack of use also suggests that any interactivity should be

simple and not expensive to develop as it may not be heavily used, especially at first.

They need answers

They primarily need information, citing templates and examples of how to complete an application

above all, and they need this to be clearly signposted and structured. Teachers don’t like to spend hours

surfing multiple threads and following leads online.

Enough is enough

They don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much content. For example, they don’t want to see too

many examples of arts practice in schools as they felt this can be of dubious quality. Also, it is not always

easy to glean ideas from long reports and celebratory pictures. Any models of practice have to focus

very closely on the categories in the application form, be representative of excellence and be described


Expectations of an official Artsmark website

They did cite use of other sites such as LONSAS, CCE and their local arts education sites (such as A New

Direction) but they were all very clear that they would expect primarily to go for information to an

official ACE Artsmark website. They would simply want to see links to the Artsmark site, and promotion

about it, on their local or specialist network sites.

What they want from an Artsmark website

They would like an Artsmark website to:

provide a clear visualisation of the steps in the application process

provide some clear evidence such as testimonials about the benefits of applying for Artsmark

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions

contain prominent information about how you can get support (and what that might cost or


offer absolute clarity on the criteria for each category and what good practice means exactly

provide a calendar of all training events and opportunities.

They may be pragmatists but they also want inspiration

Having emphasised the need for a very pragmatic approach to getting the application done, they also

clearly make use of the Internet for finding inspiration and teaching ideas. There could be room for an

inspiration zone in the Artsmark website which provides illustrations and links to award-winning

projects and practice by Gold schools.

This might include linking to blogs where teachers can go to comment and debate creative practice, for

example this from the School of Creativity Thomas Tallis:

They may also like a set of ideas and links that they can give direct to young people, to help involve

them in being a great Arts school.

1.5 Recommendations

1.5.1 How can a web service best support the complete Artsmark cycle?

The cycle could be seen as a virtuous circle, with celebration and promotion increasing advocacy and

awareness, which in turn attracts and motivates novice applicants, and provides further opportunities

for advanced teachers to spread good practice to others.

Note: This section of the recommendations focuses on the term ‘web service’ as a sequence of timely

actions across appropriate channels rather than the information architecture of a website. Note that we

use the term ‘web service’ rather than website. This is indicative of our view that the wider web could be

better leveraged to serve the needs of people around this cycle. Our recommendations, therefore, are

centred on improvements to the core Artsmark site, but with attention to how this content is also

circulated through e-bulletins, partner sites, media sites and social media.

Stage 1: Attracting novice applicants and reminding schools to reapply

At this phase, Artsmark is promoted by Strategic Partners/Local Authorities (who are given promotion

packs) as well as Central office, which promotes through press and web content.

Artsmark could reduce costs by reducing print and postage and focus attention on web marketing.

The Artsmark website should make full use of plug-ins and ‘share this’ tools so that advocates can

spread a choice of collateral through emails, e-bulletins, blogs and webpages, and also through Twitter

and social media.

The most useful content to highlight on the website at this stage would be testimonials from recipients

about how the process has benefited their organisation.

Artsmark should set up a new thread in TES forum and request an article on the Guardian Teachers


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


They should also create a Facebook group to reach the notice of people such as non-arts teachers,

heads, school governors, young arts leaders/students and artist educators, as well as potentially

reaching a wider informal audience for Artsmark as it expands.

Stage 2: Support around the application deadline

Applicants could be invited to register on the Artsmark site (and/or on a Facebook group) so that they

can receive bulletins, with tips on when they should start or finish certain tasks or where they can find

inspirational resources. These tips could draw attention to exemplar arts policies and answers to

questions in the application form, on the website.

Notes on registration: You would need to decide if it is efficient to create a central database via the

website rather than outsourcing applicant data to the strategic delivery partners. If you do distribute the

databases regionally, all strategic partners should use interoperable common database systems. The

advantage of a central database with datasets generated from initial registration forms is that you

develop a more sophisticated ‘marcomms’ tool. You could identify or tag registrants as being in one of

three of the following categories:

supporters (e.g. local authorities wishing to promote it)

strategic partners (e.g. regional agencies delivering training and assessment)

applicants (perhaps with identification of whether they are i) considering it/wanting training, ii)

going through application process, iii) reapplicant iv) superteacher e.g. multiple Gold/advisor.

A news page on the Artsmark website could compile the bulletins sent out.

A prominent invitation to ‘contact us if you have any queries or would like to organise more support’

(e.g. a visit). You might prefer to provide a web-based contact form, where the region is identified so

that the help request can be directed to your regional delivery partner.

During this phase, you and partners should ensure that advisors/moderators are available to respond

for conversation. (You may need a light-touch duty rota, with central staff watching for generic queries

and elsewhere on the web, and regional delivery partners responding to local teachers.)

During this phase, it’s also important for you to keep a watch on Facebook and TES forums, to promptly

and accurately answer any questions and to point to testimonials or inspiring responses in response to

any negative comments.

You could also encourage applicants to go to the Facebook group or a current TES thread (that you can

start) if they want to engage in more free discussion or ask other educators for their views. Regionally,

delivery partners could also start threads on services such as LONSAS.

Stage 3: Assessment and validation

During this phase, the website may be serving both assessors/validators and applicants as a central

repository of exemplar practice. A FAQs section would be helpful, providing guidance on what is needed

to achieve Artsmark or Gold. It may be used as a prompt or communication channel in meetings or

support calls.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Any email bulletins to registered users (and an equivalent news page) would need to explain the

validation process and the extra support they can buy into, if suitable at this stage. The bulletins should

also explain the timing of the awarding and celebration process.

When applicants are notified of their result, e-bulletins/news might need to promote the support

offered to non-recipients and encourage them to try again.

Stage 4: Awarding and celebration

The simplest way to celebrate Artsmark recipients is a roll call of award holders’ details on the News

page and in an email bulletin. This data should be openly available (through an open API) so that it could

then be taken and used on a regional basis by delivery partners.

You might choose to create a more highlighted ‘celebration’ online, for example, applauding particular

Gold award holders via Twitter or a Facebook group. Or you might want to highlight particular stories of

practice that were outstanding to the validators.

You could create a rich media gallery of practice, inviting submissions of photographs and videos.

However, bear in mind that teachers don’t appreciate a surfeit of information and may have other

places online in which they prefer to post (such as a school website or local network). Also, media

galleries can be problematic to set up and moderate, including in terms of photographic permissions.

We would not, therefore, advise the development of this function at this stage. Alternatively, you can

encourage recipients to share photos/videos on a Facebook group or to post links to their school web

content. You may want to invite Artsmark recipients and delivery partners/assessors to upload

testimonials (‘why Artsmark benefited our school’), sample arts policies or sample answers to questions.

(See the upload form on the Cultural Learning Alliance website as a model for inviting uploads: the

content goes to a moderator, who then selects what can be posted online.)

You may want to take advantage of any other events (for example, the Big Link Up by the Cultural

Learning Alliance or opportunities with the Cultural Olympiad) to produce presentations of good

Artsmark schools and testimonials about the value of the award.

1.5.2 What interactivity and networking functionality is suitable?

Having researched this question thoroughly, we have come to the conclusion that although you should

focus development on the Artsmark website (and not look to develop heavy official presences or

channels elsewhere) you should not create a significant forum function or community network on this

website. None of the teachers we surveyed used an online forum to develop their Artsmark application

or any other mark. They would not wish to express critical thoughts or appear dumb on an official web


This is not to say that the site should not be more responsive and interactive, which could be achieved in

the following ways.

Registration for Artsmark e-mail bulletins

See the CCE or CLA monthly bulletins as examples. The bulletins should also appear on a News page. It

makes sense for these to be generated at a national level.

A moderated user-generated FAQ

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


See how this works on Flickr ( where questions entered into the search

bar are stored and analysed so that Flickr can respond with answers. You could commission the regional

delivery agencies to compile questions asked by applicants not answered on the site, and write their

standard response linking to relevant examples/advice on the site.

Prominent ‘contact us’ button leading to a form

As proposed above, a prominent contact form, and encouragement in bulletins to use it. The contact

form could be used to identify which region people are from, so that enquiries can be distributed to the

suitable region, and also to identify their status (supporter, new applicant etc). If you require that they

register before using the contact form, you will be able to identify each person individually each time

they contact you (rather than needing to give each enquiry a number).

Encouragement to upload exemplar material

You could invite Gold recipients to upload material such as arts policies and answers to questions on the

application form. We suggest that this is moderated so that you select what appears rather than be

forced to delete material that has already appeared online. See the upload form on the CLA site as a

simple example.

Encourage participation in discussion elsewhere

You should create one ongoing ‘fan site’ or group, and we would recommend Facebook because so

many people already have accounts and spend time everyday there. Other forums may be forgotten for

months. Not all teachers use Facebook, especially not for their professional networking. But this would

be a means to promote Artsmark, for example, to push news about the celebration events and roll call

of recipients, and the testimonials about the value of the award. You can also seed questions and allow

people to discuss them. Users don’t have to be teachers/applicants but could be young people, artists or

governors interested in arts education.

You should also seek to control forum discussion on TES forums by setting up one thread each year, with

a friendly invitation to discuss Artsmark and ask its moderators/assessors any questions. Your regional

delivery partners could echo this on their regional networks.

1.5.3 How might Artsmark operate as a service across the wider web?

See the recommendations above about creating light-touch external forum threads.

Your contracts with the regional delivery agencies should include moderating FAQs on the website,

responding to queries, and seeding local threads. They may also select exemplar material for the

inspiration section and encourage teachers to upload it. They may also include Artsmark bulletin

content on their own websites and local bulletins.

You should regularly check and seek opportunities to feed e-bulletin content to sites with a more

national or cross-regional reach such as EAS/LONSAS, CLA website and My Learning.

1.5.4 Summary of features that would make an effective, usable website

Users would like an Artsmark website to provide:

a clear visualisation of the steps in the application process

some clear evidence such as testimonials about the benefits of applying for Artsmark

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and enable them to ask more

prominent information about how you can get support (and what that might cost or involve)

absolute clarity on the criteria for each category and what good practice means exactly,

illustrated with exemplar material

a calendar of all training events and opportunities

registration by individuals to feed a database of the Artsmark community.

Learning from the Ecoschools website, these are some additional features that could be helpful for an

Artsmark site:

providing open data on usage/participation e.g. a full bank of statistics, with an indicator on the

front page to say how many schools have which award, and a tool to search for registered


an Artsmark ‘shop’: support packages and resources promoted in similar terms to ‘shop here to

get what you need’

a Twitter feed: and invitation to follow Artsmark on Twitter

a front News Page: highlighting events, deadlines and celebrations (and making training events

seem enticing social occasions)

prominent cross-promotion of related awards and marks

‘Support Artsmark’: a page that addresses people who may not be in a position to apply for an

Award but may be able to support the scheme another way.

Finally, and crucially, the following technical details will ensure that the site is easy to use for a timepoor


if the site requires registration, users need easy usernames (their own name), passwords (e.g.

not requiring numbers and letters) and prompts (e.g. keep me logged in)

stable technology that won’t time-out or crash

users need to be able to apply online in forms that are intuitive and accessible, and to store halfcompleted

forms and return to them later

they need to be able to switch easily from their application forms/profiles, to be able to search

and ask questions and see exemplar content (for example, a prompt to open a new browser tab)

they need to know where and how they can ask for help from an expert or support person

they need to be given options to share exemplar content or event news on their personal/social

pages or calendars

they may also need to be encouraged to make use of collaborative file systems such as Dropbox

or Googledocs in order to work with colleagues on arts policies or application statements

they need very clear and encouraging instructions and calls to action.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


2. Our approach

Our research comprised a series of stages, as outlined in our plan of action. These included:

2.1 Step one: planning and understanding opportunities and


We had an initial phone call with Charlie Bunker in which we reviewed our project plan and made sure

we were in agreement about each stage of our approach. We discussed in more depth the context and

background and were given important background documentation. We agreed on the detail of the

methodology for the teacher’s survey and received details of a selection of 10 schools that have already

been involved in testing the next phase (see section 2.3 below). We agreed on milestones, deliverables

and liaison points.

2.2 Step two: researching online communities of practice

In agreement with you we carried out the following short pieces of research:

identify a broad range of communities of practice (especially across education and the arts) and

looking at how they network online

identify a broad range of online network platforms and looking at how they are used by relevant

communities of practice ranging from official to ‘grassroots’ in nature. (Here, we tried to include

practice in youth justice & FE and migrant education.)

select from the above some good examples where the communities of practice appear to be well

supported online

identify key online communities of practice for educators in cultural and creative fields currently

in development (such as CLA’s Cultural Learning Ambassadors network) and consider any

overlaps or synergies in service.

2.3 Step three: understanding school needs

In order to understand the needs of schools we:

reviewed evidence of Artsmark evaluations and user feedback

provided an overview of recent and projected changes in schools in terms of teachers’ access to

networked devices and their time for professional development

created and implement a short survey sent to a range of teachers at both primary and secondary

level, a deliberate mix of Artsmark Award recipients – including those who have been involved in

testing the next phase, and those from the Flow teacher advisory panel, to help us understand

their preferences for online information and processes.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


2.4 Step four: suggest a suitable model

As agreed in the project plan, this report contains a set of options as recommendations for circulation

and discussion with relevant colleagues. Immediately prior to writing up these recommendations we

consulted with three people to check our understanding of certain questions:

Elizabeth Crump, Cultural Learning Alliance

Wyl Menmuir, digital strategy for CCE

Caroline Pearce, co-ordinator of Gateshead/NE Cultural Learning Ambassadors.

2.5 Step five: produce a final report

After submitting a draft for comment, this is the final version of the report.

3. Understanding opportunities and constraints:

Artsmark online

3.1 Aims

To further understand your needs and the background of the Artsmark online presence

To understand how Artsmark currently appears across the web

To further understand the opportunities and constraints in the development of Artsmark online

in order to produce recommendations which are appropriate and achievable as well as desirable.

3.2 Methods

We had a set-up conversation with Charlie Bunker to discuss the technical aspects of the site. We

wanted to understand the constraints and opportunities of what you want to achieve. For example, are

you restricted to adding simple features within your ACE website? Are you able to create a new custom

website? Would you consider distributing guidance and application forms onto other teacher network


We then undertook a simple review of the current online presence of Artsmark including how it is

signposted on Google or discussed in online forums.

3.3 Findings

3.3.1 Current Artsmark online presence

Artsmark Website

The online presence of Artsmark is, in the main, limited to the official Artsmark website. It is updated by

the ACE/Artsmark team, who have access to the backend. This website was initially constructed without

any Google Analytics which means that there is little evidence apart from the appearance of the site for

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


us to determine how it is used. Currently there is no interactive functionality on the Artsmark website:

no forms, polls, comments, forum or interactive artwork.

TES Forum

The only other main location for Artsmark is on the TES forums, where negative or mistaken comments

can potentially proliferate unchecked, so this should not be the only forum. If this happens to be the

most active forum because teachers gravitate to it, it needs some positive intervention. When we

reviewed the TES forum for references to Artsmark, it appeared on three different discussion forums:

Creative Curriculum: Artsmark appears in only one thread (a question asked by a teacher in June

2010 who said he hadn’t received any help from an email to the Artsmark team and who

received no replies on this thread)

Art and Design: there are 35 Artsmark threads on this forum

Music: there are 20 Artsmark threads on this forum

On these forums overall, the following are the key questions or comments about Artsmark:


teachers want to share their success

they want to see exemplar art policies, exemplar filled in forms, exemplar action plans

they want to know about timing of the process of assessment/confirmation/news

they want to decide whether to apply by knowing the benefits of applying

they make appeals for advice such as: ‘I’m co-ordinating art and I’m not arty’ appeals for any


they ask about other awards in creative subjects e.g. music award.

Apart from the press pack that ACE gives schools when they are awarded, Artsmark has not had a

marketing budget. This has meant that there isn’t anywhere else that Artsmark is really showcased

online. There are good links on the Arts Awards website and on the Education Arts Service (formerly

LONSAS). There is no branded or functional presence on any other site than the Artsmark site.

3.3.2 Constraints and opportunities

Additionally we discussed that:

During the coming year 2011-2012, because Artsmark will be up and running again, there are will

be time and money constraints on the development of the website.

A distinct application system is already being prototyped and built that will allow users to apply

online. Therefore the guidance and application forms will remain a part of the main website.

In the future, Artsmark may have cost implications to schools. For example, if they want a visit

rather than using the web or network, they may have to pay (this issue was explored in Ann

Gallagher’s investigation into support packages for schools applying for Artsmark; see section

5.5). So, having an active online community would be cost effective, and would save money for

ACE and the applicants.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


There are opportunities to use third party tools e.g. Yahoo, Google, Facebook groups to plug-in

to the site to facilitate networking of applicants. It would be necessary to know the pros and

cons of doing this.

ACE/Artsmark is looking at an e-portfolio model for uploading and sharing practice. There is a

concern, however, that this might alienate some users. But it is thought that to others, e.g.

Further Education providers, might like it. It’s important that the technology is not intimidating,

which e-portfolios can be. But uploading functionality will be needed for forms and evidence.

There is a need for a balance between more overt and official control, and more freedom for

fans, advocates or conversation seeders about Artsmark, on the website and beyond. For

example, a full Artsmark channel on LONSAS may not be appropriate, but encouraging articles or

references to Artsmark would be positive.

Currently there isn’t an Artsmark ‘cabal’ of teacher advocates. There are the assessors, who help

to build up awareness but ideally, this should shift so that it is more teacher-led. You see an

opportunity for more peer assessment between teachers (with moderation e.g. by people at

RSC). This will need to be reflected on the website.

There may also be an opportunity for the scheme to have a ‘super advocates’ e.g. arts and arts

education celebrities. So the website might need to support that.

3.4 Key issues

From our findings we drew out key issues for consideration in our recommendations:

because of resource constraints this year we need to think of scalable options for future


the distinct application system means that the guidance and application forms will not be

distributed onto other channels

we need to provide recommendations for how Artsmark can have an enhanced presence across

current networking sites and social media and how it can monitor and control that, including

what 3 rd party plug-ins might be useful on the site itself

we need to understand how Artsmark could create a ‘cabal’ of teacher advocates, with space for

that on the website itself; it is likely that a forum space will be useful

we need to provide recommendations on teachers’ comfort level with using e-portfolios

and we need to understand how the scheme might use its online space to engage ‘super


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


4. Understanding the needs of schools 1: online

communities of practice

4.1 Aims

In order to help understand the needs of schools we:

identified a broad range of communities of practice (especially across education and the arts) and

look at how they network online

identified a broad range of online network platforms and looking at how they are used by

relevant communities of practice ranging from official to ‘grassroots’ in nature (here, we tried to

include practice in youth justice & FE and migrant education)

selected from the above some good examples where the communities of practice appear to be

well supported online

identified key online communities of practice for educators in cultural and creative fields

currently in development (such as CLA’s Cultural Learning Ambassadors network) and

considering any overlaps or synergies in service

provided an overview of constraints for teachers and others in using online services.

4.2 Methodology

The term Communities of Practice (CoP) was first used in the early nineties (Lave and Wenger, 1991 1 ):

‘communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do

and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.’ 2 A CoP revolves around a shared practice and is

bounded by a shared competence, rather than an interest or a geographical space and involves

activities, discussion, practical help, information sharing and relationships that enable learning.

The features of a CoP have been defined as: 3


not driven together for a specific purpose, nor to achieve tangible results

their existence defined by group members and may be formal or informal.

For the purposes of this research we have also explored ‘professional knowledge networks and

communities’ where professionals respond to a practical or common need through the exchange of

ideas, strategies and expertise. 4 Professional community networks may host a CoP, or a variety of CoPs,

1 Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger (1991) Situated Learning. Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

2 Wenger, circa 2007, quoted in Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) 'Communities of practice', the encyclopedia of informal education,

3 Definition by National Electronic library for health discussed by Ball, Wendy, ‘Fostering a professional community’ Dec. 2005, The Journal of the Chartered

Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

4 Much of this definitional thinking comes from Ball, Wendy, ‘Fostering a professional community’ Dec. 2005, The Journal of the Chartered Institute of

Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


or include aspects of CoPs such as forums for discussion, but are mainly driven by the professional body

head. National professional organizations now play an important role in knowledge-sharing.

Features we have explored include: 5

forums: where you can ask questions, post information or respond to other members' posts

wikis: where members can add and edit content collectively or post a document for others' input

or amend existing documents

events: the place to promote relevant upcoming events or meetings

library: where you can upload, share, and track documents

blog: an online journal or diary that others can comment on

search facilities: which allows you to search for documents, wikis, blogs, people, and events

alerts: daily summaries of activity from your communities, direct to your e-mail inbox.

We have reviewed the results of a wide range of likely Google search terms and have followed up the

results. We have extended our search of professional networking to include:

arts education in the formal sector (primary and secondary)

arts education within the cultural sector

further education as relates to the arts

migrant education as relates to the arts

the role of arts education in youth justice.

We then explored forms of online practices and sharing that may provide examples for art education

practitioners, particularly exploring new models used by ICT educators (probably the most ‘net-savvy’

group). We have not included US-based or other international forums, unless they are very heavily used

for a UK context.

4.3 Findings about Communities of Practice online

We explored a wide range of online networking and professional knowledge-sharing that takes place in

the UK amongst education and arts professionals.

4.3.1 Networking by educationalists around the arts

Public sector organisations

We looked at a range of public sector organisations that often provide platforms for CoPs, or include

aspects of CoPs such as wikis or forums. A lot of organisations are in flux at the moment as the

government reviews its quangos and their websites. It is tricky to distinguish between public sector and

independent, as many bodies such as Learning Outside the Classroom have had to float away from

Government department tethers due to cuts and policy changes. Some bodies that provide digital

resource services to education have had their funding cut, including BECTA and Teachers TV. The DfE’s

5 Features taken from

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


websites have rarely consistently supported community networks, focusing on simple provision of

information (much of it out of date due to the policy review). The BBC is stripping back its web provision

in general and for this particular audience it aims to focus on engaging game-like content for novice arts

educators and young people rather than engaging them in any development of professional practice.

Overall, major public sector bodies are not currently the place to look for good practice in supporting

communities of practice online (except in spin-off, temporary or niche initiatives).

The place to look for exemplary practice is Scotland. Their national Learning Platform, GLOW Scotland, is

highly interactive, with many tools to enable collaborative networking between schools. Creative

Scotland is about to launch a Cultural Learning Ambassadors network modelled on the Gateshead/North

East model.

Independent and grassroots organisations

There are many independent non-profit organisations that promote knowledge-sharing and best

practice in the arts and education. These include artsform or cultural providers, academic organisations,

policy bodies, or professional unions. The most lively are more ‘grassroots’ or peer-led, often focusing

fairly squarely on particular aspects of practice or advocacy issues.

Unsurprisingly, those who use the web to best advantage are those networks engaged in ICT education

and digital culture. They tend to build their platforms on third-party open source software such as

Wordpress or Ning, that have emerged from the blogging culture, but which have now advanced to

provide full online services.

The independent organisation described in most detail in Appendix 1 is the Cultural Learning Alliance.

This is planning a revamp of its web presence but is waiting for policy and funding changes to settle

before forming a strategy. It is likely that they will focus on presenting and inviting sharing of the best

evidence for cultural learning rather than create a big UK-wide online network of arts educationalists.

Blogs and social media

We have looked at individual blogs or co-authored blogs that have become hubs for ideas sharing.

Because blogs often have one or two motivated individuals behind them, they can be pushed out into

social media to reach a wider audience. Blogs are also very interactive, so that posts can spark debates

(through comments threads). Teachers involved in media studies, digital arts and ICT are confident users

of blogs, so this may be a particular audience to target to help you promote Artsmark. You could link to

some excellent and lively arts education blogs to enable spin-off discussions.

Facebook has by the largest membership of any social network (inevitably including many teachers) so it

is worth considering how you can use its Group and Fan function. There are a few successful relevant

groups, such as the one for Sing Up. However, Facebook would not work as the main forum tool for

Artsmark for reasons outlined elsewhere, but could certainly be seen as a tool for widening


Industry media and advertising-based organisations

We looked at commercial media bodies that sponsor fully-fledged CoPs or aspects of CoPs such as

resources and forums. These aim to draw membership to their site (or to partners’ sites or to campaign

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


microsites). Media companies often have exemplary technology and heavy traffic so they are good

places for you to take an active interest in how Artsmark is presented and discussed. Two key services

are TES, whose forums we have discussed above, and the Guardian Teachers Network.

Other school marks and their online presence

We have analysed the web-based schemes of other awards, such as the ICT mark, Ecoschools and

Sportsmark to provide a comparison with the online experience of Artsmark. See Appendix 1 for a

detailed account of the many networks and websites under the headings above.

4.4 Findings: Key issues facing educators in engaging online

Educators seeking information, inspiration and support for professional development online report on

various issues which we have described below. This understanding is gained from Flow’s previous

research, auditing and evaluation of online services for education, from our interviews with teachers for

this exercise and from discussions with Caroline Pearce (manager of the Cultural Learning Ambassador’s

network in the North East).

Time: the big issue

Educators have limited time during the working day, and this is likely to become more squeezed with

economic pressures. This means that they will need to develop arts policies and complete applications in

snatched moments or at weekends/holidays. They are likely to use a combination of home and schoolbased

technology and so will need easy log-ins and plenty of prompts to bookmark/save log-ins.

Growing public expectation for digital services partially shared by teachers

Constantly improving web functionality and increasing digital literacy makes interactivity much more an

expected feature of any online service. Basic expectations are that users can contact a named person for

help, that they can give feedback, that they can comment on articles, that they can share content to

discuss with others on social media, and so on. People are now getting used to registering so that they

can enter for competitions, book online for events and receive regular e-updates. Educators probably

share these expectations. However when it comes to secretarial tasks in school they are still somewhat

less digitally adept than, for example, office workers, because of their environment and working

practices. They are likely to have limited access to functioning emails, especially during the day and they

are very likely to print out forms or guidance (and then use ‘snail mail’).

Note: Teachers may have also have to print out forms to get management signatures or to involve other


Some are cut off from the Internet in school

Many school Internet services are strictly limited, locking you into a Managed Learning Environment

that is ultra-secure. This means that when teachers are in school, they may not be able to access social

sites or to contribute to forum threads, even ones on official sites. This should not be a reason to ensure

that a service isn’t well delivered online, but it will mean ensuring there are workarounds and the

barriers are acknowledged.

Teachers find their own workarounds – and mobile is growing

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


The challenges of educator access to workplace Internet are being overcome by increasing personal

ownership of netbooks, tablets and smartphones with constant 3G/wifi access. Using these, teachers

can bypass the Internet restrictions within schools and work anywhere out of school. This means that

Artsmark content should be easy to use on mobile devices (e.g. mobile friendly forms).

This constant access may be more common for secondary teachers. There is growing acceptance in

secondary schools that the Internet should be accessible on a variety of devices, including personal

devices. Schools applying for Artsmark may also tend to make more experimental use of ICT.

Growing but still partial use of social media

Teachers increasingly want to embrace social media, and many are personal members of networks such

as Facebook, using it to network informally with colleagues and to join special interest groups. There are

still many, in particular older teachers outside metropolitan areas who are not so familiar with social

media, or who may not associate it with their professional identity at all. Social media may be best

perceived as a tool for raising awareness of the value of Artsmark and attracting new teachers to

consider it.

Everybody has certain technical challenges, and teachers perhaps more than most

The key challenges for educators in using online services are the same as for all other users, but because

teachers have less time to access technology and the Internet these challenges may be exacerbated:

they need easy usernames and log-ins (e.g. keep me logged in)

they need stable technology that won’t time out or crash

they need to be able to store half-completed content and return it later

they need to be able to switch easily from forms/profiles to ask questions and see exemplar


they need to know where and how they can ask for help from an expert or support person

they may want the opportunity to share their advice and ideas with others, especially if they are

advanced in the process, and they will want to comment on other people’s questions. (People

like dialogue)

they need to be given options to share content on their personal/social pages

they may also need to be encouraged to make use of collaborative file systems such as Dropbox

or Google Docs in order to work with colleagues on arts policies or application statements

they need very clear and encouraging instructions and calls to action.

5. Understanding the needs of schools 2: reviewing

evidence of the Artsmark evaluation

5.1 Aims

In order to help understand the needs of schools we:

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


eviewed evidence from recent Artsmark evaluations and user feedback.

5.2 Methodology

We reviewed the following information reports:

access to Survey Monkey results (note the account was only able to serve the first 100 results so

it was not very informative)

knowledge of the ongoing evaluation of Artsmark since its inception, by Flow associate Sally Fort

Artsmark Test Phase evaluation report by Tom Fleming

investigation into support packages for schools who apply for Artsmark: report by Ann Gallacher.

5.3 The former Artsmark award

Artsmark was an Award for formal education (reception to year 13) on three levels: Artsmark; Artsmark

Silver; Artsmark Gold. It functioned as an audit process for schools to assess how much support they

gave to the arts, specifically art, dance, drama and music in curriculum time and in teacher’s CPD; and

other creative elements beyond this (e.g. A and AS level; out of hours provision). This audit process

aimed to help the school identify its strengths and further opportunities to develop. Artsmark is a

measure of provision, rather than quality (as it has never been possible to identify an objective set of

quality baselines due to the subjective nature of interpreting ‘art’ and ‘quality’). Artsmark was also

tailored to accommodate special schools and PRU settings. Artsmark does not cover Early Years before

Reception level (though a pilot and review was undertaken; at the time it was concluded to be


The old Artsmark application varied slightly each year. The application form was altered annually to

reflect changes in education and in response to areas teachers found hard to complete (as a result of

the form being too complicated or not clear enough about the exact information it was asking about).

Completing the old Artsmark application form was time consuming and required you to be extremely

thorough. The validation process was methodical and rigorous. In contrast to opinions expressed by

teachers in Tom Fleming’s report, Artsmark is not an easy process to pass. It has been a supportive

assessment process with help being provided where teachers have not filled the form in correctly or

fully. However, Artsmark overall has been a clear process: schools either meet the criteria and pass, or

they don’t. Where schools have not met criteria for the Award applied for, depending on the year of

application, either they have been marked for the next Award down, invited to withdraw their

application and reapply another year, or informed that they have not met criteria. A helpline, and in

some years a letter outlining points for development, has been offered to schools who have not met


The underlying principle has always been ACE’s support for the development of visual art, dance, drama

and music in schools. Understanding this cannot be underestimated as a context for understanding the

process of Artsmark.

In part this has been to meet ACE’s core national remit. In part it has been to ensure schools continue to

safeguard education of the arts as disciplines. Artsmark has explicitly distinguished between the arts,

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


and broader culture (e.g. in science or humanities) or creativity (e.g. creative thinking or innovative ICT).

In 2009, as a precursor to the pilot phase of the new scheme, a review was conducted to explore

whether or not this distinction should continue to be made, or whether it should look at becoming more

cross-cutting, covering other areas such as crafts, design, film, creativity, English etc; whether it should

continue to be managed by ACE; or indeed whether it should continue to exist at all. It has been

confirmed that the four cornerstones of visual art, dance, drama and music continue to be the priority in

the new scheme.

The former process contained ten sections asking schools about:

basic data such as contact details, address, LEA number, lead contact teacher and head teacher’s


background context: information about the socio-economic profile of their catchment

population, information about the school and the arts resources in its locality or region,

approaches to diversity (both ethnic and ability)

an overarching school Arts Policy, and other details such as the resources and spaces in school,

number of specialist teachers, examples of arts to meet requirements of Every Child Matters

arts in the curriculum; how planning and development took place and is monitored; the number

of curriculum hours available to the four main arts subjects specified by ACE (art, dance, drama,

music); which could include block time such as end of year / Christmas shows; and delivery via

other subjects (Drama through English or History being a popular example)

out of hours provision; including breakfast / lunch/ after school clubs and holiday projects; also

information about who led these and any opportunities to work with artists in the delivery of


sharing and celebration: opportunities for the school to showcase and share arts provision with

parents, families and the wider community. For example how they shared achievements within

the school environment (shows, exhibitions etc); which local, regional or national festivals and

competitions they take part in; how they offer their resources for community use (on a noncommercial

basis); and working in partnership with other schools

partnerships with artists: working in partnership with external providers (professional arts

venues and individuals)

CPD: the number of arts CPD opportunities taken up by staff in each of the 4 art areas specified,

across subject specialists or heads of departments and other art delivery staff

referees and signatories: schools were asked to provide two independent referees who could

discuss their application if required; these usually consisted of one local authority officer and one

arts partner (a clear list of who was or wasn’t eligible as a referee was included in application

guidance); Fields to demonstrate the Head teacher and School Governors had also approved and

signed off the application

Ofsted; schools were asked to provide relevant sections of latest Ofsted report, and in later

years, relevant sections of their SEF.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


The application cycle in previous years has followed this pattern (with slight variations each year). See

the diagrams below for a visual representation. Ways in which an Artsmark web service could support

this cycle are offered in the Executive Summary (5.5).

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


5.4 The new Artsmark award

The major change in the new Artsmark as proposed is that it is offered as a two-level award: Artsmark

and Artsmark Gold.

5.4.1 The application process

There are two phases to the application process, as before, but with some adjustments.

Application process part one

The application process is in two stages: part One is an audit based quantitative exercise in which the

online application process will calculate basic data.

This includes the old requirements of:

section one: school information

section four: curriculum time

section five: extra-curricular arts

section seven: arts partnerships.

Plus there is a new category about how schools offer access to the Arts Award.

This basic eligibility audit now meets the old Silver standard, requiring at least 12% of curriculum time

for arts in each year (former Artsmark level was 10%; Gold was 15%).

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


The pilot assessment shows that teachers responded well to this Part One Application and on the whole

found it much quicker to complete. Almost all schools could complete this using existing school data.

If schools meet this stage, they can continue on to part two. If not, they have been provided with followup

support (in this instance a visit; though this may not be the case with the roll-out version).

Application process part two

At this stage schools are asked if wish to apply for Artsmark or Gold. They then complete more

descriptive questions; with Gold school being asked more questions than Artsmark.

Questions include:

contextual information about arts provision in the school

future vision and pupil voice

ability differentiation and cross-curricular impact

wellbeing and leadership in pupils


the wider community

partnerships with other schools

partnerships with artists and arts organisations.

As expected in trials, schools who were new to Artsmark struggled more than previous applicants. The

difficulties they voiced were typical of some of the recurring issues former applications experienced.

They include the following points.

How to write an overarching arts policy

Most schools have subject specific policies; or overarching policies for configurations which do not fit

the Artsmark requirement e.g. Creativity Policies rather than Arts Policies. This has always been an issue,

though less and less so each year as teachers become more experienced at this and the guidelines have

become clearer and clearer. Teachers would very much benefit from communities of practice to support

this area (as well as example documents with notes explaining why it has been selected as a good


Struggles to find professional arts partners, particularly in rural areas

Usually this has been overcome with a more thorough understanding of who counts as a professional

arts partner e.g. a local artist working from a small studio; a retired dancer coming in to lead an after

school club; schools tend to think of a theatre or gallery only. Schools working in clusters can also help

overcome this e.g. they took part in a drama workshop hosted at another school but the applying

school’s pupils also took part – a common mistake is to list the school as the partner not the practitioner

– most difficulties are of this nature, technicalities of filling the form correctly rather than gaps in

provision). A community of practice could help teachers clarify definitions for one another and provide

examples of how they have overcome this.

Some committed teachers not having the support of their Head so they struggle to achieve a team


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


This does happen, in principle it should be a whole school approach to the application; in reality because

the form asks for a lead contact in some cases that person does the vast bulk of the work. The form

cannot be completed without colleagues support because of the information it asks for. No single

teacher would have access to it all. In former years the Head has had to approve and sign the application

on paper. However the extent to which they genuinely support it varies greatly; though it is not

immediately apparent that this is still the case, there is no obvious space on the application form at this

stage which requires this. The bottom line is that the school has to meet the criteria and ACE are not

involved in the politics or motives behind the application (though at Gold level formerly, school visits

must include a discussion with the Head as part of the application verification; the new visit protocol will

presumably still involve discussion with the Head and if the process does charge a fee then it would be

hard to have this agreed without their support). It would be virtually impossible for one teacher alone to

complete the whole form and meet the criteria, they simply would not have access to all the data

required; by default it becomes a team exercise, however committed (or not) colleagues may be.

However this is clearly an area where a community of practice could help teachers feeling overwhelmed

and alone in their efforts, be it through practical or moral support.


Teachers new to the process felt the application time was tight. There is no getting away from this, it is.

In the past teachers have been able to prepare to some extent in the preceding summer term from

previous application forms though the form changes each year so will always need additional work

when the revised application process is launched each year. There is an opportunity for an online forum

(or offline training) to highlight how the questions or sections have changed from one year to the next

and for newly applying teachers to benefit from experiences of repeat applicants.

5.5 Analysis of reports: training and application support needs

5.5.1 Overview and explanation

Both reports (Tom Fleming and Ann Gallacher) note the importance of support during the application

process. This has always been something offered in different ways on a local and regional basis rather

than something uniformly rolled out by the national Artsmark team. Training is provided by the National

Committee through schools or agencies. Support materials have been provided by ACE and the delivery

is then adapted to the trainer’s particular style. Financial arrangements vary: in some cases local

authorities have organised, hosted and paid for the training; in others, committee members have been

recruited by schools for individual support. Therefore the content and cost of support has varied.

Attending training of any kind is no guarantee that the school will achieve their award. Some schools

have neither received nor asked for support in their applications. Training or initial support has never

been a requirement of applying. So the training/support mechanism has evolved somewhat organically

and variably across the country.

Ann Gallacher’s report suggested an area for guidance documents, including:

downloadable versions of the application form (for reference only, to help planning)

application guidance documents

exemplar Arts Policies

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


exemplar answers to more difficult (each answer with a persistent URL so that discussions online

can reference them easily).

5.5.2 The need for interactive guidance

Key barriers to attending training or meetings in the ‘real world’ are lack of time and the cost of supply

cover/transport, so it may be that many schools are not taking up the offer support for these reasons.

Alternatives to real world support can be provided online through any or all of these tools:

downloadable cribsheets or templates

enabling applicants to upload (or send by email) exemplar practice e.g. arts policies

open FAQs (FAQs that have been community-sourced and new questions added by users are

offered to others to answer: This differs from a forum because its scope is limited to core

questions about Artsmark and is heavily moderated)

video tutorials or podcasts (e.g. describing how practice can translate into awards),

streamed live discussions (e.g. a timed and promoted event where users can interview a Gold

teacher and an arts educator)

one-to-one real-time chat (or timed appointments with advisors using email, Google Chat or


a user forum, lightly moderated, where anyone is free to set up and respond to discussion

threads, including on lateral topics.

These kinds of services are easy to create using current web functionality. The main investment will be

creating engaging and effective content and moderating FAQs/forums. However, this may be more

affordable than investing more heavily in training events and one-off real-world visits and meetings. It

will also save time and money for schools and embrace non-formal settings where they may have even

less time for professional training.

5.5.3 Focusing on forum functionality

Highlighting need for consistent provision nationwide

If Artsmark develops community networking (on its own site or elsewhere) this will provide the

opportunity for educators to ‘compare notes’ much more than ever before. They will be able to

compare notes on how much support they gained and what mark they achieved for what kind of

practice. This, and the likely cost of applying, makes it vital that support is consistent across the country.

Trained moderators at regional level?

We note and support the plans for commissioned training providers in the regions and ‘recommend that

moderation of the forums will be a necessary element of ensuring this consistency of advice is

maintained online as much as it will be offline’.

There may be a way to tie this into training provider’s agreements, in other words, by the provider also

training and overseeing the forum moderators. However, this approach raises some questions:

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Would this mean the forum would need to be grouped into regions, to enable regional

moderators to focus on their own network? Would too much regional splitting of forums be

cumbersome and reduce sharing of practice? Would forum moderators, trained regionally, have

a national remit and work with others to form a national team? Or should their role be restricted

to communicating only with local applicants (for example, by email, and answering regionally

specific questions on a forum)?

If the plan is for some of the Artsmark advisers to be expert/Gold teachers, would they have any

extra capacity to take this role on?

Moderation and online support may require an additional cohort of freelancers. These could be

recruited by regional training providers to form a central group; or there could be a specially

commissioned external provider taking responsibility for overall forum moderation. (Given the scale of

interaction on TES Artsmark forums or Facebook teacher groups, this cohort will only need to be a small

and not with onerous duties.)

We would recommend that the website ensures transparency and connection across regions, or rather,

provides a national platform. Using the web to open up of regional boundaries has benefits, for

example, being more explicit about training beyond your own region if it is geographically nearer or on a

more convenient date.

Networking as Artsmark expands to other settings

Potentially if the scheme is rolled out to other types of providers (youth organisations etc) a community

function would act as a useful opportunity for schools and other providers to find one another and

support each other in applications, as well as build relationships that could benefit delivery in and with

schools, to mutual benefit. This kind of networking could only happen with functionality that enabled

applicants to register and connect directly with each other.

Potential to develop forum on another professional network

It is noted that LONSAS/EAS is aiming to develop nationwide functionality to enable providers and

educators to connect over arts in schools. We have not been able to get an update on these plans, but

understand that you would prefer not to have an official channel on LONSAS.

There has been consideration by the Cultural Learning Alliance to extend the Gateshead Cultural

Ambassador’s Virtual Learning Environment to enable its members, especially educators, to network.

However, their stop-gap solution of a LinkedIn group combined with registration on CLA site to share

ideas/material seems to work fairly well. They are waiting to see how curriculum reviews and funding

(e.g. for Creative Partnerships) affect their role: at present they are focusing on higher-level advocacy

and simply catalysing the existence of local networks of teacher ambassadors.

You could decide to support and have a presence in one or both of these developments rather than

create a custom networking space purely for Artsmark. However, these developments both appear to

be in limbo. Also, users would expect to find content on an Artsmark site rather than elsewhere.

Therefore, the recommendation would be to improve the core Artsmark site and ensure that its

improved content and ‘shareability’ improves the Artsmark presence across the web more widely.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Considering use of language and systems familiar to teachers

Schools now have their own Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs, or Managed LEs) to share their

development and activity internally and with parents. Ann Gallacher refers to teacher’s familiarity with

the term VLE in her advocacy of the Gateshead’s Cultural Learning Ambassador’s use of the Local

Authority VLE as a model.

Pros: teachers are familiar with this language and trust a VLE to be an official, formal, sanctioned space

(perhaps more so than a forum or blog).

Cons: it is out of step with life outside of school. Only schools use the term. Does Artsmark need to be

positioned as a link to industry i.e. professional arts practice or life beyond school? If so then VLE is not a

term that would be used in this context.

We would propose use of terms such as ‘community network’ or ‘Artsmark network’ to suggest any

forum functionality. However, it may be that a forum or VLE per se is appropriate (see findings below).

Pros and cons of building a forum on the Artsmark site

Pros (and ways of managing):

A forum would be an effective way for teachers (new and repeat applicants) to help one another,

in full understanding of the practical issues they face.

This would make connectivity much more productive, and much simpler for the Artsmark

provider organisations, especially if teachers or arts providers could search for one another by

year group, region or subject. (However, as mentioned above, the natural place for such iteration

might be LONSAS/EAS and/or local online arts education networks such as those for Gateshead

or Milton Keynes.)

If the forum requires full registration (name, role, setting, interests, Artsmark history etc), it

could be a very useful source of data and opinions, helping you to develop the service.

If moderated well to ensure the discussions extend practice, and do actually lead to discussions,

it would benefit arts practice in education. (It could be that such discussion could take place in a

Facebook group, where participants may feel free to express themselves if unsure.)

It would also enable further marketing/awareness-raising of the offline training and support


It could be helpful to build up a community-sourced set of Frequently Asked Questions. (It could

be that the forum on Artsmark is no more than this.)

Cons (and ways of mitigating):

A forum on the Artsmark site may not be used. Applicants may follow habitual online behaviour

and revert automatically to spaces such as TES or Facebook forums rather than join new ones.

(So, you may need to make proactive use of such services.)

For similar reasons, users may prefer to connect on other arts education networks, those that

exist or that may emerge. (So, again, you may want to develop a subgroup or presence


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Forum functionality can often be blocked by school servers. (It would be important for a forum

to be additional, not essential, to the process of applying. However, if teachers are doing their

application work at home, they may prefer to use Facebook or similar, which they may already

be logged into.)

More time would be required in order to register and create profile. (However, this could be

minimised to 2 to 5 minutes if just a username/password is required, especially if you allow users

to register with a pre-existing Google or Yahoo ID or Open ID.)

There is a risk that only the most pro-active forum posters will be visible and the community will

be a small group all discussing the same points with one another, making it hard for new queries

or new/less regular visitors to stay visible. (This is expected however. Many people appreciate

that others are active posters so they can learn from what others share. It can also be mitigated

with good moderation, for example, encouraging all new registrants to introduce themselves,

explain what their key queries or needs are, and what inspires them.)

It would need flexibility to accommodate other types of applicants if plans are extended to

informal providers or arts organisations.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Appendix 1: Detailed findings about online


A1.1 Professional organizations that promote research and teaching


Learning Platforms, intranets and Grids for Learning

Since the 1990s and particularly emphasized in part of the 2005 White Paper on education, all schools in

the UK have been working towards creating personalised learning spaces online for pupils, teachers and

parents. Some of these are organised at national level (e.g. Scotland) or at local authority level. Virtual

learning environments include spaces for parents, teachers, children and specifically for CPD, as well as

links to resources and information. They are becoming one of the main ways in which teachers can

access information and advice. Despite the fact that in the summer of 2010, the government halved the

annual 200M ‘Harnessing Technology Grant’ to local authorities and schools, reducing the ability of

schools and local authorities to spend on ICT systems and develop Virtual Learning Environments they

are still an important factor in networking and innovation. For more information see:

These learning platforms that are hosted at regional or local authority level, and are managed by

companies such as RM or are increasingly important sources of information, rather than the traditional

information-based ‘intranets’ for teachers on local county council websites that in the past provided key

information to teachers and schools on training opportunities, jobs, holiday dates and formats required

for Local Authority advisory services. e.g.

The National Grid for Learning (NGfL) was a government funded gate-way to educational resources of

high quality that was set up in England in 1998 (separate agencies were set up in Scotland, Northern

Ireland and Wales) and managed by BECTA. It also worked to secure lower broadband connection prices

by entering into region wide contracts called Regional Broadband Consortia. Since then these consortia

(at regional level) have taken over some of the original aims of the NGfL. BECTA closed the NGfL in 2006,

but the regional grids for learning live on through the different consortia, with national level bodies in

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. They are now linked through the National Education Network

(NEN) utilizing the JANET network to provide a single, secure private network available to provide

shared resources amongst all UK schools.

Learning platforms are now being linked to regional Grids for Learning. For example, the

Middlesborough Grid for learning contains the login page for the Learning Platforms

The most ambitious combination of an Intranet-based Learning platform and a Grid for Learning is Glow,

the Scottish Schools National Intranet. This is a major national ICT and telecommunications programme

managed by Learning and Teaching Scotland. The funding for Glow comes from the Scottish

Government and the project is a collaboration between local authorities, Learning and Teaching

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Scotland and RM. The Glow system provides access to a variety of collaboration tools within a secure,

password authenticated environment. These include:

Glow Meet - A webconferencing service

Glow Chat - A text-based chat client

Glow Messenger - An instant messaging system accessible by every teacher

Glow Mail - A web based email service available to most Glow users

Glow Learn - An integrated Virtual learning environment (VLE) allowing nationwide sharing of

resources and creation of teaching courses.

Glow Groups - Sub-sites which can be created by teachers in each establishment for a variety of

purposes, such as a class group, a curricular subject group, or a group for staff collaboration.

Groups also exist at a National Level for each curricular area to encourage collaboration across

the country.

Discussion Boards

Document Stores.

Note also that Creative Scotland is about to launch an online network for cultural learning ambassadors

in schools, similar to the one running in the North East.

NGfL: Teacher’s Resource Exchange

This is a longer-standing moderated database of resources and activities created by teachers Includes

the Teacher’s resource exchange, This is not very up to date and is currently

being integrated with as a part of the government’s drive to reduce the number

of different websites available. This website is still functioning but is not accepting new resources.


The QCDA runs a Curriculum Network that has worked with schools across the country to develop and

improve the curriculum. Again, the future of

this would seem to be unclear in the current environment. Schools work together on curriculum

development and the QCDA has supported this with resources, opportunities to share ideas with other

groups and, where possible, through workshops and conferences. There is a termly newsletter,

Curriculum Network news, and each network school receives the Curriculum co-development toolkit,

which includes activities and resources to help teachers develop their curriculum. Apart from

showcasing case-studies on line and providing an email for feedback there is no direct networking

through the website.

General Teaching Council: The Teacher Learning Academy

The Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) provides a framework of continuing professional development for

teachers and schools, built on research-based evidence about effective professional learning. The TLA was developed by the General Teaching Council

for England (GTC) in partnership with teachers, schools and others. It has functions for six years.

However as the GTC are being abolished, they are looking for a ‘new home’ for the TLA. Resources have

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included summaries of teacher projects, summaries of recent research for teachers, themes and toolkits

to enable teachers to undertake research. These are currently housed on the GTC website and available

for downloading. To join the TLA and submit a project, for which you get professional recognition,

schools pay a subscription fee. There is also a forum that is membership only, and you need your

professional teacher number to join. Over 7,000 teachers have submitted TLA projects.

DSCF: Teachernet and Teacher’s TV

Teachernet was a communication tool of the Department of Schools, Children and Families to teachers

specifically. It is now in the process of being migrated / integrated with

the new Department of Education website. It gives news about professional changes and highlights key

new resources. It has featured hot seats – question and answer sessions with experts, and podcasts. As

a part of the site 2865 users are registered to the TeacherNet General forum with a range of different topics, from the Primary review, to SATs

to job opportunities.

Teacher’s TV is a major part of Teachernet with its own community landing page and offshoots. The online professional development channel was launched in

2005 and is produced by the company Ten Alps. Teachers TV catalogues its videos by subject as well as

by stage (e.g. primary or secondary) and audience type (e.g. parent, governer). Subjects include Art and

Design and Music. You can follow Teachers TV on twitter, facebook or ITunes. It has it’s own community

page where teachers can post messages or start groups. One lively group in particular is ‘Creativity and

the Arts in Education’ with 213 members from across the world Ten

Alps is losing its £10m annual budget for the teaching resource from April 29, 2011. Ten Alps is now

investigating alternative funding methods through a combination of subscriptions, sponsorship and


DSCF: National Strategies

The National Strategies are professional programmes for school children and young people in England,

delivered on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families since 1998 and since then have

been a key national delivery vehicle for many new and existing government learning priorities. They are still in use, and are linked to the new

department of education website, although they offer no specific forum space for educators to

knowledge-share. The programmes provide a mix of resources and services that support improvements

in the quality of learning and teaching in schools, colleges and early years settings in literacy and maths.

Department of Education: e.g. National Curriculum Review Consultation

The current government is migrating aspects of the DSCF sites onto the Department for Education

website. It currently contains a range of news items and videos. It also

contains the National Curriculum Review, which requires users to register a profile before they can

complete a long form.

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is an independent not-for-profit membership organisations

of schools that was set up by the previous government to support the development of specialist colleges

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and academies. Over 90% of English mainstream

secondary schools, almost 50% of special schools, and 600 primary schools are members of SSAT, which

also works internationally in 36 countries. Membership confers support from a regional coordinator

dedicated to enhancing and supporting the transformation of education in your region, invites to

regional events and a National Conference, access to specialist subject conferences, roadshows. On line

teachers with password access to:

information, advice and resources

membership of iNet - the SSAT's international arm

discounted software - Microsoft, Symantec, Quark, and other product offers - find out more

regular bulletins and newsletters

ICT advice and support

access to the SSAT suite of leadership programmes.

Tate (example of a national cultural body)

Tate has a section of its website for schools and teachers. This

provides an overview of the schools and teachers programmes, including Schools Online, a repository of

high-quality resources searchable by type, subject, artist or by age-group of children. For example, here

you can find ‘Tate Tools’, interactive whiteboard resources. You can also go to Tate Teachers, a base for

programmes such as Teachers in Partnership and courses for teachers to work with artists and learn

new ways of engaging with artworks in the classroom. They also have a current international exchange

project in partnership with Unilever The site doesn’t

support any forum functionality, simply asking teachers to sign up for email bulletins.

A1.2 Independent non-profit and grassroots organisations

These are all organisations that promote and support cultural or creative learning. Many have started as

Government funded initiatives but have become more independent, or others have emerged from

special interest groups.

Art Education 2.0

This is a global community of art educators using new technology. A great many similar networks are

using Ning as a platform as it offers strong functionality, usability and design. However, Ning started

charging for use in 2010, which meant that some groups exported to other platforms whilst others used

the charge as an impetus to ‘up their game’ (see below Museum 3.0 for an example).

Creativity and Culture in Education (CCE)

The organisation that runs Creative Partnerships (CP) and Find Your Talent doesn’t have a forum on its

organisation’s website. CCE is starting to do more to

capture and promote good practice, using the web, for example this Story Catching project about early

years practice:,485,AR.html.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


The CP website does have a Creative Professionals forum for teachers and creative agents/practitioners: This is an informal thread-based system, which includes

a recent question asking for case studies on Arts Awards. However, there are only 21 questions asked

since its establishment in 2009. Also, CP’s many regional implementation agencies (ADOs) have online

community spaces for sharing of stories and events/news.

Cultural Learning Alliance

The Cultural Learning Alliance advocates learning enriched through cultural and creative experience

within and beyond the classroom. It is political and led by

trusts and foundations (and so doesn’t need fees or donations), rather than being membership-led.

Some of its partners are public sector bodies such as ACE and HLF.

Professional educators in schools and cultural organisations are also invited to be members. They are

invited to upload ‘stories’ (about their early personal experience of cultural learning). They are asked to

send in evidence reports and project case studies. You can see the form for this evidence at the end of

this page: The form asks for name, email, position and

organisation, and provides a ‘browse to upload’ function, a space to add one web URL, and a box for 400

characters of writing. The instructions state that the CLA will be in touch to receive documents by email

if the user states this preference in the writing box. The page asking for project case studies (as opposed

to evidence reports or research) is an exact mirror of the Evidence page, with the same form at the end:

When there are events, members are invited to send comments and questions to speakers via a forum

tool set up for each event by the digital agency Germination. This forum tool did not work well at the

last major event, The Big Link Up. There was no link made between the comments sent in advance and

the discussion on the day, and then no follow up afterwards. It is much easier to use Twitter hashtags

for forum engagement at events. An alternative is to tap into the EventEye service from Futurelab which

provides ‘back channel’ services for all conferences and training events in creative, cultural and

innovative education:

The CLA discussion group uses LinkedIn Groups, which is separate from and not very evident from the

CLA homepage. The latest entries on the LinkedIn group come through to members’ email inboxes.

Members are also encouraged to use Twitter or Facebook to have discussions and promote the CLA to


CLA is planning a revamp of its web services, but they are waiting for clarity on funding of other schemes

such as CCE to plan the extent of their role. At present, they are focusing on using the web for advocacy

rather than creating an architecture for community networking.

Artsmark is mentioned in passing or embedded into a few articles on the blog but there is scope for

fuller stories and evidence pages about Artsmark, from ACE, delivery partners and award-holders.

Education Arts Service

Originally known as LONSAS due to its London initiation (ACE London funded), this has now expanded to

the West Midlands and East Midlands and has ambitions to be the default national broker service

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


etween schools and creative learning providers. The system

works by inviting users to create a profile, explaining their offers and needs, and the profiles are

clustered into three channels: Education, Arts and Consultancy. Forum functionality is offered through

Discussion Boards, organised into national and regional categories, then thematic sub-categories: Under the sub-category heading ‘Initiatives’ (and some

others) one might expect to see Artsmark but it’s not very visible.

There are also plans to develop tailored branded channels for relevant initiatives, although this is

proving slow to implement. Initiatives such as Artsmark can promote themselves through the news

emails to users (news on the site), through a registered profile, through supplying case studies/data to a

page on its Knowledgebase, and promoting training events, as well as creating a thread on a Discussion

Board. Given its growing coverage across the regions, it would make sense to increase presence in all

these ways. Artsmark is currently found in an article in the Arts Directory as well as in a large number of

archived news items, mostly about training courses, from 2003-2006.

Engage or the National Association of Gallery Education

This organsation is not an ideal example of online strategy for members. For example, there is a non-standard log-in to a members

section, so the ‘walled garden’ forum is not well used. However, the site has rich content available to

non-members and functions well as a public advocacy tool. For example, a tool created 10 years ago is

the Gallery Finder, a map-based database of galleries and museums offering education services. This is

well used by teachers searching for services. Engage also sends out a regular email newsletter to

members, which could be better used to promote Artsmark.

English National Youth Arts Network

ENYAN is not for teachers specifically, but may be an excellent way for Artsmark to reach educators

working in non-formal settings as the scheme expands. ENYAN is a membership body designed to create

connections throughout the diverse youth arts sector at national, regional and grass roots levels.

Membership is free and includes access to the magazine Upstart Online, and information about job

vacancies, news, events, CPD and funding opportunities. It has a ‘Headspace’ community forum where

you can post your own queries, or vote in online campaigns.


The IDeA Communities of Practice website provides local government with a new tool for managing its

work. It provides a complete and very sophisticated platform for interested professionals to create their

own community of practice that defines different roles for members, facilitators and sponsors. The

platform allows for:

forum - where you can ask questions, post information or respond to other members' posts.

Forums are the best way in for new members.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


wikis - where members can add and edit content collectively. You can post a document for

others' input or amend existing documents.

events - the place to promote relevant upcoming events or meetings.

library - where you can upload, share, and track documents.

blog - an online journal or diary that others can comment on

search facility - which allows you to search for documents, wikis, blogs, people, and events

alerts - daily summaries of activity from your communities, direct to your e-mail inbox.

Milton Keynes Arts Education Forum

This is a useful example of a local arts education network promoting Artsmark very well on its website. This isn’t a broad regional agency but a very local forum, led

by arts organisations. It could be helpful to look at making better use of other similar local forums,

where they exist, to use their web presence (as well as their capacity to run training events).

Museums Computer Group

This is an exemplary site and a lively group of professionals interested in using digital media to engage

users of museums and heritage. The forum uses the JISC e-list system (as does GEM). You can join MCG

without paying, but paying members receive discounted events and other benefits. The site has a blog

which invites a monthly post by any member, rounding up their view on events, issues or initiatives.

Museum 3.0

This is a Ning-based group of international museum and heritage professionals interested in public

engagement, social media and contemporary tactics of participation. It started off as an online network,

run by Australian museum academics, but has grown into a registered charity, organising real world

events and making research funding applications. Membership is free but events are charged, donations

are welcome and the charity looks for income from other sources.


NAACE is the ICT association who are currently partners of BECTA. They say ‘we are a community of

educators, technologists and policy makers who share a vision for the role of technology in advancing

education. Our members include teachers, school leaders, advisors and consultants working within and

across all phases of UK education’. Includes:

ICT CPD resources that can be accessed free through a log-in site

school Corner

talklists, where ICT professionals are on hand to help answer your questions.

events and discounts for NAACE Annual Strategic Conference and other NAACE events or priority

tickets for BETT 2011

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


NAACE Certified ICT in Education Professionals scheme

ICT Mark ( which charges schools for being a part of the


National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD)

A long established members association for art & design educators, NSEAD has built up a good deal of

expertise and resources on its website. It has recently merged

with an organisation called A4 to form a Community for School Improvement, whose remit starts from

but goes beyond the arts in education to develop schools. This CSI has an online forum and regional


School Music Association

The website of the schools music association which provides a network for music teachers, and a link

between those working with young people and the policy makers at local, regional and national level:

Specialist Teachers of Speech and Drama Association

The STSD protects the professional interests of qualified, specialist teachers of Speech and Drama,

encourages good standards of teaching and promotes the study and knowledge of Speech and Dramatic

Art in every form. The forum on their website, which is not at all being used, is

an example of how custom forums within organisation’s own website often fail to engage a critical mass

of people.

Teaching Unions

Teaching Unions run CPD programmes and produce monthly magazines that are shared through their

website, sent to members and delivered to staffrooms. Union positions on policy issues are keenly

followed and discussed by teachers. These positions and articles are available on the web, but are more

likely to be accessed via the print copy, or staffroom union representatives who may table a discussion

in a staff meeting. For example the National Union of Teachers has produced position papers on

phonics, SATs, personalised learning and many other topics.

The Story Museum

The Story Museum is a charity based in Oxford, aiming to create a Story Museum building and until then

is running schools outreach programmes to promote creative literacy practice. A little like Sing Up, this is a collection of stories and resources for

creative literacy. Although the website doesn’t have a forum, it is a very popular resource bank for

teachers, and they are invited to share their story resources for inclusion on the site.

A.1.3 Blogs and social media


There are many hundreds of blogs by and for arts teachers and educators in different settings. These are

often very useful sources of inspiration, especially when they include photographs, videos, and practical

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


advice and personal experiences of other educators worldwide. Blogs will list other useful blogs and

sites and are shared through other forums and social media. They can be an excellent way of sharing

success stories about arts practice in schools. A few examples:

The Art Classroom

The Art Teacher’s Guide to the Internet

Dan China – Art Education

Also, many schools now run their own blogs, and there are some excellent ones by Schools of Creativity

or Specialist Arts Colleges (e.g. Thomas Tallis school).

Facebook groups

Teachers in the UK use the group function on Facebook in a limited way. This is often for support e.g.

the group Black Male Primary school teachers in the UK has 78 members on and Support for Supply

teachers has 256 members. We found a few groups that would be relevant to the arts such as Drama

Teachers in the UK (secondary) which had 286 members, and the Sing Up group (see below). The Drama

Teachers group shares extra-curricular information, lesson ideas and resources, as well as news and

reviews of productions and CPD.

Grassroots group as exemplary user: Sussed

This is a grassroots network about Sustainable & Environmental Education, which uses a Yahoo Group.

Membership is free but moderated. Members receive news of jobs, training opportunities, events and

resources, into their inbox, in a timely manner. They can easily post such news themselves (as Yahoo

members are usually logged in by default, as with Google). They can control how they receive emails.

They can also access individual emails of members and contact them directly. Features of Yahoo groups

like this include being able to:

contact members individually (as most email & contact details are visible).

send a message to the group, with emails going to members own inbox (and archive it on the

group site)

upload files, including PDFs, Word docs and photos (e.g. learning resources)

create databases and add data to them (for example, lists of project or event participants)

create lists of weblinks (e.g. campaigns or learning resources)

set up a poll of members

post events on a group calendar

develop and add other applications.

This demonstrates how the use of web tools can enable effective networking, without needing any

formal group structure or financial expense. The group works because people are united in a very

particular shared interest, and the tools give each member independent agency to make best use of the


School as exemplary user: Thomas Tallis School

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Thomas Tallis is a School of Creativity and Specialist Arts College, and an exemplary user of online

communication to promote creative learning beyond its own walls and community. They have

developed an I-phone app, a Tallis TV channel, online book clubs and creative writing clubs, the use of

Twitter and Facebook, and the use of open publishing tools. They have developed a highly visual and

interactive forum called Tallis Talk, which allows all the school’s communities to connect with each other

(e.g. Friends, Student Governors, exchange schools abroad and is open for all visitors to see)

Nowhere on its website can be seen an Artsmark logo, although it would be surprising if it did not have

Artsmark Gold. This example raises a question of how such exemplary schools can use their strong web

presence to engage other formal and informal practitioners with Artsmark practice.

A.1.5 Industry and media organisations

Advertising-based or commercial sites

There are several sites that provide free downloadable resources for teachers, which often include

space for teachers to upload and share resources or comments, or resources that are sold as part of the

site. In the case of The Education Forum or Teacher’s Talk they include a fully interactive forum. While

popular with teachers, they can be extremely unreliable. They include:

Primary Resources


Teaching Ideas


The Education Forum

Teacher’s Talk Forum

The Teacher Net

The Primary Teacher Resource Centre

BBC Teachers

This could also be included in the category of public sector organisations but its services are roughly

equivalent to large media organisations. The BBC Teachers site includes a rich set of resources for

teachers, although it does not include any interactivity or ‘community’ as such. The BBC is in the process

of upgrading their Primary Arts education resources and there may be scope for engagement with

Artsmark – including links to the site.

The Guardian

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The Guardian has recently released its 70,000 teaching resources onto a new website, without charge, in

keeping with their open data policy. They have created the website as a network, actively inviting

members to share their resources.

The site’s main forum functionality is the Classroom Innovation section In reality, this is a reskinning of Guardian articles

about practice (with comments only temporarily enabled), a Twitter feed, and other features relating to

their Classroom Innovation awards and so on.

Times Educational Supplement (TES)

Where teachers network online the most is through the TES forum

( This is an extremely busy platform with a plethora of

posts and threads. There are many forums (which support many threads) related to arts and creative

education, for example, the Creative Curriculum forum had 2,222 new posts in the last 24 hours, most of

them new threads, or new questions set by forum users. (Date: last week of January 2011.)

There is also an Art and Design forum


and a Music forum:


Microsoft UK Partners in Learning Education Network

(Formerly the Innovative Teachers Network)

Microsoft’s initiative to link teachers that are engaged in innovative ICT teaching was the winner of 2010

BETT award, and has more than 4 million educator members worldwide, and more than 2000 groups

that are hosted through the network. The network showcases innovative examples of practice and

includes free tools, resources and research. It has a ‘Communities’ page where members can ask

questions or start groups, browse profiles of other teachers, and a ‘notebook’ function that stores

evidence of your activities or upload resources. It also has particular programmes including:

The Innovative Teacher’s programme for peer coaching to teachers using technology in the classroom

Research tools for schools to self assess how they are embedding ‘21st century learning’. Surveys can be

repeated in schools annually to track progress.

The ‘SHOUT’ programme links students across the world tackling environmental problems.

A new YouTube channel featuring ‘INNOvids’ created by teachers about how to use Microsoft resources,

case studies of successful parental engagement using technology and Innovative Teacher’s Programme


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


A.1.6 Other school marks and their online presence


Eco-schools is an international award scheme, that is one programme of the Foundation for

Environment Education – a not-for-profit organisation that has chapters in 66 countries and the award is

being implemented in 43 of them.

See This website outlines 7 ‘steps’ of a programme that must be

implemented for a whole year before receiving a ‘Green Flag’ (or in some cases a Bronze, Silver and then

finally a Green Flag). The steps are all child-orientated, include having a school action plan, an Ecocouncil,

and documentation of how the action plan is being implemented. Assessment for the

programme is then through the visit of an assessor.

This is a huge site. It has information for schools to register online, and self-assessment for the first two

stages of the award (bronze and silver) are done online and only through self-assessment. Only when

schools are going for their Green Flag, or their Green Flag Ambassador status do they need a visitor from

an assessor.

Some features that could be helpful for an Artsmark site include:

open data – a full bank of statistics, with an indicator on the front page to say how many schools

have which award, and a search of registered schools.

an eco-schools shop – an Artsmark shop may not be appropriate but a support packages and

resources section could use a similar approach (‘shop here to get what you need’)

a Twitter feed and invitation to follow them on Twitter

highlighting Ecoschools conferences, competitions and celebrations on a News page – making

training events seem enticing social and inspirational occasions

cross promotion of related awards and marks – for example, Ecoschools actively promotes the

ASDAN award for individual students (like the Arts Awards but for sustainable action)

support Ecoschools – a page that addresses people who may not be in a position to apply for an

Award but may be able to support the scheme another way.

Finding the Eco-schools site is problematic: Each national or regional chapter of the programme is

hosted by a different organisation. This is quite confusing as the information on the eco-schools’ site is

generic. But the specific information for England is only accessible through a ‘contacts page’. The

England award is hosted by ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ campaign at: From there

you need to locate the link to Eco-schools that is part of a busy homepage. This sends you to yet another


ICT mark

The ICT mark information is one part of the NAACE website. It is a very simply structured page divided

into the sub-sections ‘apply’, ‘costs’, ‘benefits’, ‘quality assurance’, ‘FAQs’. To apply you first fill in a form

and arrange payment on ‘survey monkey’ that arranges for an assessor visit:

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Evidence is completed as part of a ‘self-review framework’, that is only visible to members of NAACE. It

is submitted as a csv file.

ActiveMark and Sportsmark

Sportsmark is Sport for England’s accreditation scheme for secondary schools that recognizes a school’s

out of hours provision for sport and Activemark is the equivalent for Primary. Interestingly it is poorly

sign-posted on the web – with the first page of search terms for Sportsmark not hitting any official site –

only a Wikipedia article about the scheme. In fact the top listing is for a sport’s

marketing company, and further down a firm selling event and show equipment.

We have not been able to find any online information about the current status of these marks. The

Government’s Teachernet site has not updated the info page since 2007.

Healthy schools

The scheme is a joint initiative between DCSF and Department of Health (DH) which promotes a whole

school and whole child approach to health. It is a well-promoted website with details of how to become

involved with the scheme, as well as providing information on ‘resources’, ‘news’, ‘events’ and ‘hot

topics’ as well as a ‘shop’ selling different merchandise and resources hosted by Kaboodle.

Becoming a Healthy school is a complicated process, described as an ‘enhancement process’ involving

multiple stakeholders and requiring auditing and monitoring of 41 criteria. It is described in 7 stages and

a PDF handbook for schools.

Once schools register online they can log on to the site. This leads them to their school ‘page’ where

their evidence, audit and application can all be uploaded and saved.

International Schools Award

The international School award is featured as part of the Global Gateway site which promotes all

aspects of international school partnerships:

It is also accessible through the British Council, who promote the scheme:

Running since 1999, this award recognizes curriculum-based international work in schools through

school partnerships with schools abroad. The application process is entirely an online form, accessed

through a password and school identification number. The website is very details and also gives advice

and resources for finding partner schools, types of international project, access and information about

the different funding schemes and different types of support, guidance and CPD available at regional

and local level.

Sing Up

Sing up ( is a national scheme for promoting singing in primary schools. It is

currently unsure of its public funding for the next financial year (from March 2011). The website

includes information about the award and current training, showcases successful school practice and

has copies of the monthly Sing Up magazine. It also includes interactive resources such as a ‘Song bank’

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


which includes downloadable songs for use in school with space for teachers to upload songs, or

comment on how they have used them. Schools are asked to register, so that they can access the

services of the website and so that the scheme can keep data on participation. It has a link to a

Facebook page – with a lively discussion forum there, space to ask questions, upload material and useful


Appendix 2: Interviews with teachers

A.2.1 Methodology

We wanted to get a range of primary and secondary viewpoints, and from schools that have an

Artsmark as well as those that are not in the scheme. We initially wrote to thirty teachers, ten of whom

were recommended by Artsmark as being in schools that were involved in testing the next phase, some

of whom were part of the Flow Teacher Advisory Committee, and some who were recommended as

being in schools intereted in the arts. Fifteen teachers responded and were interviewed.

In each case we first asked them the filter question, ‘What is your experience of Artsmark?’

The response choices were:

A. Never heard of it, or only vaguely know of it.

B. Considering it in our school but I won’t be very involved.

C. Our school has Artsmark, but I wasn’t very involved.

D. Considering Artsmark for first time and I will be leading or very involved.

E. We have Artsmark and I was leading or very involved.

F. Have Artsmark, was involved and have been helping with the testing of the next phase.

All Artsmark recommended teachers were in group F.

For responses A-C we asked a set of questions:

1. To help us understand why you’ve not heard of it or not been involved in applying, please tell us

more: what’s your area of confidence? Does your school have someone confident to lead an

application? Does your school need to do more to feel that it’s good enough at the arts? Anything else?

2. What other ‘mark’ awards has your school applied for?

3. Were you involved in this/these application(s)?

4. To what extent did you use the web to research and support this/these other application(s)?

(Exclusively/Mostly/Somewhat/A little/Hardly at all)

5. In general, in applying for an award/mark or similar e.g. major competition or exams, would you value

the chance to discuss it online with other teachers informally, and to share ideas for good practice in

that subject? 6. If you do this already, where do you go?

6. If you have explored Artsmark, have you looked online? Tell us more: what did you find? Did you ask

for thoughts on a teachers forum or just go straight to the official website?

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


7. What are the main positive and negative factors in using the Internet to help develop your school’s

practice in a subject area such as arts or sports? In other words, what are the benefits and what are the


8. If you could imagine the perfect online resource to inspire you to go for an award like Artsmark or

Sportsmark, what would it include, or what would it be like?

For responses D-F we asked a set of questions:

1. Can you tell a little more about your history of involvement. Which grade of Artsmark are you going

for/do you have? Are you an Arts specialist/coordinator?

2. Can you describe your level of enthusiasm for Artsmark e.g. in terms of the difference it has made to

you and your school? Very keen, pretty keen, somewhat keen, a little keen/mixed feelings, negative.

Just briefly explain any reasons why:

3. To what extent did you use the Internet to research and support your application? What did you think

about the support you found online? Exclusively/Mostly/Somewhat/A little/Hardly at all

4. Did you ask for other teachers’ thoughts on a forum or just go straight to the official website?

5. Where online would you most want to find information/advice about Artsmark? (e.g. would it be on

an official Artsmark site or in any other place that you might spend more time online for professional

matters? If the latter, where?)

6. If you’ve used the Internet to research e.g. competitions or other school awards, how do you think

the Artsmark website compared?

7. What are the main positive and negative factors in using the Internet to help develop your school’s

practice in a subject area such as arts or sports? In other words, what are the benefits compared to

going to training events/having meetings and what are the barriers/what makes it tricky for you?

8. If you could imagine the perfect online resource for Artsmark:

What would most help to inspire you and help inspire your colleagues and students?

What would be most helpful to save you time?

A.2.2 The respondents

A profile of the respondents is as follows:

Name and Role Type of School Experience of Artsmark Recommended by


Year six teacher and

science coordinator


English Teacher





Considered it in their

school, did not apply

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service

Flow Teacher Advisory


None Flow Teacher Advisory


Becca Primary Contributed to School Flow Teacher Advisory


Foundation Stage



Year three teacher

Arts coordinator


Deputy head teacher


Year Six teacher,

literacy coordinator


Year Six teacher,

Deputy head teacher


PPA/ SEN teacher


Head of Art


Textiles Teacher

Mr Hales

Head teacher


Director of Arts



Class teacher


Art Specialist

Mainstream application Group
















school, Private





Stuart Pupil Referral

Unit for children

Decided not to apply for

Artsmark this year

Artsmark Gold school on

three occasions, led the

application process

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service

Flow Teacher Advisory


Flow Teacher Advisory


Not heard of Artsmark Flow Teacher Advisory


Decided not to apply for


Flow Teacher Advisory


Not heard of Artsmark Flow Teacher Advisory


Gold Artsmark school Recommended by Sally


Only vaguely heard of


Working towards

Artsmark and was

involved in testing the

new phase.

Artsmark Gold award

and was involved in

testing the new phase.

Have Artsmark Gold

award and was involved

in testing the next phase.

Special School Going for Bronze award

and was involved in

testing the next phase.

Led Artsmark

applications. Has been

Recommended by Sally


Recommended by


Recommended by


Recommended by


Recommended by


Recommended by



Headteacher with autism involved as an assessor.

A.2.3 Findings from teachers who have not been directly involved in

applying for Artsmark

Q1. To help us understand why you’ve not heard of it or not been involved in applying, please tell us

more: what’s your area of confidence? Does your school have someone confident to lead an

application? Does your school need to do more to feel that it’s good enough at the arts? Anything


Polly – We considered going for Artsmark in our school but we didn’t go for it in the end as we had too

much going on. Our Arts coordinator looked into it but felt it was quite a big job to do and we weren’t

doing all the right stuff for it. We were good in music and dance, but not the visual arts.

Becca – We’ve got an Artsmark award, for which our deputy and former music coordinator interviewed

us, and asked for us to fill in different sections, so she could fill it in on the big form. She asked us

various questions and collected some evidence. She made recordings and then uploaded them or

something. I’m actually not sure.

Mark – I’m not in the art department so I’m not sure.

Ed – We decided not to apply for Artsmark this year as we are currently looking at lots of other marks

and awards, and there was a limit to how many logos you want to apply for at the same time. In

particular there is a danger of becoming unfocused. When I asked other colleagues, no one at school

was sure what the Artsmark was going to mean. At the moment we are really trying to push the global

curriculum and the Uganda link (Global Curriculum Partnership) and a link with India (funded by the

Specialist Schools and Academies Trust). We are emphasizing equality and commonality with the

community there. This means focusing the whole school community including the adults on how you

relate with people, especially those in poorer countries. For that we’ve been working in parallel with lots

of projects – similar and in parallel.

Beth – We don’t have it and I’m not sure why. I guess it’s because it’s never been delegated to anyone.

Right now we are in Special Measures and it would detract from our current focus.

Brian – It is something that we have considered, but it’s not a priority at the moment.

Hannah – I’m not really sure if my school has an Artsmark award. They are really arty, so they might do,

but it’s not on their website. I’m just starting.

Debbie – We haven’t got an Artsmark award. I’m not sure why; It might be because it is a private school.

Q2. What other ‘mark’ awards has your school applied for?

Polly – We have an International award, a leading aspect award in story-telling and the creative

curriculum, eco-schools silver and we are applying for an eco-schools green flag award.

Becca – We have an international award and an eco-schools flag and a healthy schools award.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Mark – I think we have international status or something like that.

Ed – We have Healthy Oxfordshire schools, a leading aspect award, an international school award, and

eco-schools silver.

Beth – We have International Schools award, Eco-schools award and Healthy Schools award.

Brian - We are working towards a different level of Eco-schools – we’ve got the basic level and we are

going for the next one. We are also focusing on singing and we are doing Sing-Up. We have got Bronze

for that and we are going for Silver. For all of these other things that we are developing there are

parallel procedures but slightly different directions. We have a healthy schools award and our Investors

in People award will be renewed fairly soon. If we were considering a scheme, I would speak to

colleagues – how is it going to benefit the children? At every point it’s got to show a benefit to the


Hannah – I’m not sure.

Debbie – I don’t think so, no. Not that I’m aware of.

Q3. Were you involved in this/these application(s)?

Polly - I am currently applying for the eco-school green flag award.

Becca – No. But I helped to collect data, and for the International award we reviewed our activities, so I

filled in evidence for that too.

Ed – I was personally involved in the application for the International schools Award and the other

Global Curriculum grants.

Beth – No.

Brian – Not directly no. The only part I was involved in was providing evidence for other teachers to use,

such as photographs, and getting my year sixes to do some of the projects.

Hannah – I’ve not applied for anything.

Q4. To what extent did you use the web to research and support this/these other application(s)?

(Exclusively/Mostly/Somewhat/A little/Hardly at all)

Polly – Mostly

Ed – Somewhat

Q5. In general, in applying for an award/mark or similar e.g. major competition or exams, would you

value the chance to discuss it online with other teachers informally, and to share ideas for good

practice in that subject? 6. If you do this already, where do you go?

Polly – I looked at a TES forum for linking with a school in relation to our gardening. You have to give

advice to a school for your eco-school award. So I suppose that would be a good way to make a link, but

I haven’t done it like that. Mostly I have used the Internet for getting information. I also phoned them

and spoke to them. I feel it’s better to ring them as the lady explained it better than the information on

the (Eco-schools) site, and gave me advice on time-scales and confidence building in school. I also went

to a Developing Sustainability Inset day course where I met teachers face-to-face. It was the annual

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


conference for Sustainable Schools. It was really useful to sit and talk to people about their Eco-schools

application – and realising that it was worth going for, even if other people just said ‘it’s a bit of paper’.

Becca – I haven’t used forums before really. Probably would be really useful, if I wasn’t spending my

time doing clip art and stuff! I did use the TES forum when I was looking for a specific activity that was

art-based. The TES forum did give me some ideas. I tend to just Google things I need, and on this

occasion I was directed there, and it was useful to get some games from it. I don’t have time to think or

the forward planning to ask questions – I always need something or an answer straightaway!

Mark – Very occasionally I go on the exam board OCR media forum. I just search if there is something I

don’t understand about the specification. They are really bad about describing what they want for their

coursework. So I find out from other teachers if they want 4 or 8 pages, or other stuff like that. I know

about the TES forum, which sometimes I read about in the newspaper, but I don’t really look for advice

about teaching anymore.

Ed - I don’t use the Internet for forums. I value talking to colleagues. I talk at Inset days with school

colleagues or friends. I get orientated on different things. I prefer to be able to speak to somebody. If I

go online, it’s most likely to be to find the contact numbers!

Beth – The only thing I’m involved in is a story-telling initiative (Oxfordshire Story museum project). I

don’t go online because it’s only in Oxfordshire. I do use TES forums a lot for resources, but not for


Brian – I don’t often go on Internet forums. The only time I do so is when I have ICT issues. Then I might

go online to share practice and brainstorm problems. It’s for problem-solving really and from that good

practice and practical applications. I’m driven by the need to find an answer to a problem, rather than

just the notion of sharing good practice. For example I have submitted a few questions on blogs, and

also on the learning platform about solving a particular problem with provisioning accounts. On the TES

blogs I’ve asked if anyone knew of a free software for graphing with year one. It has always been that

sort of question.

Hannah – When I was coordinating a subject (MFL), I used the TES a lot for other people’s ideas, and I

googled and got other people’s ideas.

Debbie - We don’t do anything online. We try to discuss with schools in our area as we get no support

from the county. We also have a North Yorkshire forum group for textile teachers that try to meet up

and discuss the exam. We are teachers who have found each other at different meetings.

Q6. If you have explored Artsmark, have you looked online? Tell us more: what did you find? Did you

ask for thoughts on a teachers forum or just go straight to the official website?

Ed – I looked on their website.

Q7. What are the main positive and negative factors in using the Internet to help develop your

school’s practice in a subject area such as arts or sports? In other words, what are the benefits and

what are the barriers?


Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Polly – It’s very useful for an overview: checklists and templates. It provideds links to other things that

will help you get your mark – websites with resources and things like that. I am planning Science week at

the moment and organising people to come in. I value being able to find out more information.

Becca - You can find a piece of artwork as a stimulus by googling it. That is brilliant if you want to

research an artist or sculpture. It’s also useful if you want to find interactive art web sites, to look at the

style of different artists. It has been pointed out by our coordinator that in art we are all doing our own

thing, only loosely connecting to objectives, and not following the National Curriculum. We would

therefore need the Internet to get a scheme of work or something, but all the government websites and

advisory team are being axed. For policy development we would probably ask other schools directly that

we know. We might look for links from other county’s websites.

Ed - A well-designed website can help you categorize your thinking better. I find design the of websites

very useful. A great strength of the Internet is that you can follow the links.

Mark – I remember when I started, trying to use the Internet uploads, and being frustrated that there

wasn’t enough on it. Quite quickly I stopped using the Internet except for very specific things, very

specific pictures, or using YouTube. But I don’t really engage in advice for teachers. If there was

something completely new, I haven’t taught before, I might go to a website, but I’m more likely to check

the exam board.

Beth- You get ideas and examples of best practice.

Brian – The Internet has a wide variety of sources

Hannah – you can have a look at what they are doing in other countries. You have resources online, and

people can post up their resources and you can nick them! Sorry share! I need to start putting up mine!

Debbie – It is beneficial that kids can access the Internet, and can find out stuff for themselves. We have

good Internet access at school and as it’s a boarding school they will do it in the evening. The server is

quite restrictive though, and you have to get sites to get unblocked – e.g. for YouTube for half hour



Polly - Specific questions are easier to ask person to person and the website can be an overload of

information. Eco-schools has so much information up there, that you feel daunted by it.

Becca – We only have one interactive whiteboard in the whole unit, and you can’t see it because there

are no curtains, and it’s not in the area where we do art!

Ed – The problem with the Internet is when you can’t find what you looking for and you get frustrated

wasting time searching for something!

Beth – People put things up but you don’t know the quality of their own teaching or practice. (This

problem is otherwise known as Primary Resources!)

Brian- The strength of the Internet is also its weakness: a wide variety of sources! It’s quick and you can

find lots of solutions to problems and ideas for teaching and learning. But there are so many you have to

trawl through that it can be really difficult to find the right one that really fits your school. It’s a double

edged tool. If you find a good site you cling on for dear life!

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Hannah – The barrier is that you are not able to see things in practice. If you visit a school you get a

different experience physically.

Q8. If you could imagine the perfect online resource to inspire you to go for an award like Artsmark or

Sportsmark, what would it include, or what would it be like?

Polly – It would include links. It would be really clear about deadlines and the timeline, so you are not

necessarily prioritising yourself, which can be so overwhelming. The Eco-schools site is really good in this

way. As teachers you don’t have time to do that planning or pages and pages of form filling and ticking

boxes. But some teachers aren’t ICT savvy – uploading, or slow connections can be a pain. Some things

can take 3 hours to upload on a slow connection. Our secretary can’t do that for us because she’s not

very good at computers. It’s often better to put it in the post. It’s good to have choice and different

ways of doing things e.g. uploading or post.

Becca – I’d want examples of what they meant, because sometimes they ask questions about what you

do, but you are not quite sure what they mean. It would be useful to know other schools have overcome

barriers, and what they have achieved. I would like to see examples of their achievements. It makes us

think ‘ooh, I wish we could do that!’ If you look at how they’ve overcome barriers then you are focused

on what you could achieve.

Mark – Not sure.

Ed - I would want to know what benefit it has had for other schools, so I would want testimonials. I

would want a clear timeline or flow chart that describes how you do it. I would want the criteria to be

judged to be absolutely clear. The GCP from the British Council was very unclear and a nightmare. The

initial report came back and then we had to go to a meeting about it.

Beth – The story-museum website is such an exciting place to go. It has instant access to inspiring ways

of doing things. I can find out other school’s practice. It has all the stories audio and written, so I can

instantly access storytellers telling the stories. When you go there you just think, ‘this is something


Brian – A perfect web-resource would include resources we could use, and a streamlined process. That

is one thing that has put us off in the past when we go through these sorts of things. Coordinators hate

to be delegated with something that means a lot of extra work. Over time, I find they are all getting less

paperwork driven. There should be clear reasons why the school should do it. Some case studies and

resources we could use to achieve some of those things would be great. With the case studies, some

relevant examples we could emulate so we are not reinventing the wheel. It is useful to see how

different people went with it. In particular: how did it benefit the children?

Hannah – The most useful thing is an outline of how somebody else got it. It is useful to have the steps.

You feel a bit on your own sometimes when you are coordinating. A diary of how somebody achieved

something in another school would be best.

Debbie – I would like to see an area for pupils on it, and places that they could find out information and

get access to different sites. They can waste so much time typing in random words – meaning that the

Internet is not always a helpful resource. A forum for staff to pose questions. Or interviews with

practicing artists would be nice, especially those who are not mainstream.

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A.2.4 Findings from teachers who have led Artsmark applications

Q1. Can you tell a little more about your history of involvement with Artsmark. Which grade of

Artsmark are you going for or do you have? Are you an Arts specialist or coordinator?

Henry – We are a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit), but we have achieved a gold Artsmark award twice. We

work with children with complex needs; they are high functioning autistic children – and so we believe

that the arts are absolutely paramount. To be recognized at this level is absolutely great. Artsmark is

absolutely crucial in promoting what we do, and also getting recognition for it amongst the community.

Peter – We have been an Artsmark gold school on three occasions. On this last round we got a special

plaque for 2010- 13, which was a special achievement. We first got Artsmark Gold in 2003 or 2004. They

reassess every three years, I think.

Mr Hales – We’ve only applied and taken part in the pilot scheme for the new Artsmark award

application process. The positive feedback we’ve had means that we would apply for Artsmark gold.

Bernie - We’ve been involved with Artsmark for a long time. We applied first about eight years ago

when it first started. At that point we got silver. We then got gold and then got gold again. We stopped

this year as the scheme was suspended.

Julia – We are still on Artsmark silver, and we are not due until September to apply for gold. We took

part in the pilot though, and there are a just a few things to work on. We are definitely going for

Artsmark gold.

Rebecca - At Nicholas Hawksmoor we value the arts highly and believe these subjects have contributed

greatly to our high academic achievement. The Arts are firmly embedded into the ethos of the school

and we therefore value the contribution that Artsmark makes in recognizing the importance of the arts

in school. We have achieved Artsmark gold four times officially and participated in the trial when

Artsmark first began. We aim to maintain this achievement. We have specialist teacher for Art, Dance,

Music and Drama in school who works as part of an arts team alongside the main class teachers. It is the

teamwork and contributions of all staff members that enables us to extend the boundaries of our

practice and approach new projects with enthusiasm. I am currently Head of Arts at the school but also

a full time specialist art teacher to pupils in Key Stage 1 and 2 and a qualified primary class teacher.

Helen – Getting a bronze Artsmark would be great! I am an Art specialist. I have a degree in art and I’m a

teacher of the deaf. I also have a teaching degree from Goldsmiths.

Q2. Can you describe your level of enthusiasm for Artsmark e.g. in terms of the difference it has made

to you and your school? Very keen, pretty keen, somewhat keen, a little keen/mixed feelings,


Just briefly explain any reasons why:

Henry – We are very keen. A good thing about Artsmark is that it provides a brilliant audit of the arts

provision here. The online application process does the same: it gets you thinking, and gets you thinking

about the future. The future is uncertain in PRU, but we are judged ‘good with outstanding’ by Ofsted.

As future funding is under threat we hope to use recognition of our achievements to apply to become

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


an academy. That will allow us to be more strategic about our future. Artsmark is a part of that


Peter - I’m very keen on the accolade, which is great. I’m very, very not keen on the form, which is a

nightmare. I like the findings. It’s a good audit, and it’s good to keep your school healthy, by having to

‘prove it’. The length of the form is terrible though. The first time, it was 80 pages and very involved.

Given the pressures on school on all areas, it’s unnecessarily onerous. Also, if you wanted, you could

make up the figures! The best way of measuring something is to visit somewhere. The visit was very

positive and felt very celebratory. It was a very positive experience.

Mr Hales – We are very keen and feel it is a very positive thing for the school. All the staff are very

willing to do the necessary, as our displays and musical festivals and dance are a part of annual school

events. It is good for parents to see what the children are achieving.

Bernie – We are pretty keen. It is just recognition for the amount of art we do in the school. It just gives

us a certificate, to say that we are committed to the arts in this school.

Julia – We are very keen because it raises the profile of our Company (The Art’s Company). We have a

Company structure in the academy and literacy and maths often take precedence. Artsmark provides

recognition for what we do across the school.

Rebecca - Artsmark has given our school a level of expectation that we can strive towards. Each time we

apply we aim to achieve more and develop the arts in our school as a result. The program allows us to

assess areas for development within the arts and be proactive towards achieving our goals.

Helen - I am very keen to acquire this award for our school as it will be evidence of the strength of the

Art department and how this benefits the overall curriculum.

Q3. To what extent did you use the Internet to research and support your application? What did you

think about the support you found online? Exclusively/Mostly/Somewhat/A little/Hardly at all

Henry – We mostly used the Internet. For us using online stuff is not a problem, as of the two things that

drive us, one is the arts, and the other is IT. So the concept of using online applications is all part and

parcel of that. We have no problem at all using the online form.

Peter – We used the Internet a little. We did use it to check that we were using the right format. The

online guidance is what we used. They had examples. Wherever we looked there were examples of

work done and ways that you might say how it was done. This helped us with the question of whether

our answer was the right sort of thing they were looking for.

Mr Hales – I used the Internet a lot to research the rationale which underpins the value of Arts

Education as a preparation for life itself. I read a number of research articles about international

provision and prioritise in those countries to gain a comparative overview. Obviously many of the

questions in the Artsmark research documentation applied specifically to the school’s own provision,

both historically and currently, for the Arts and I did not need to use the Internet for such a personal

perspective. The Internet is a valuable resource. It keeps you in touch with what is going on elsewhere –

locally, nationally and internationally. Generally, the respective websites are extremely useful,

particularly if you are looking to involve arts practitioners in arts projects in school. The related links

usually enabled us to access what we needed. Details of the organisations funded by the Arts Council in

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


NW England are particularly useful and have been the starting point for many of our school-based

initiatives. We would love to be able to order resource packs for the various arts subjects.

Bernie – We mostly used the Internet. It was very good. But you know the first time we made the

application, it was very difficult, but after that we used what we had done before and improved our

answers for some of the questions.

Julia – We used the Internet a little. We had trouble accessing the website and filling in the forms. I’m

not sure whether it was a glitch at our end or not. From the conversations I had, it seemed as though

one or two people had problems.

Rebecca - The Internet does provide a valuable source for the application process and I am sure that this

will be required more in the future, particularly by schools who are new to the scheme or unfamiliar

with the process. However due to us being a return applicant, we did not use the Internet for support

this time.

Helen - I googled the Artsmark information one day , to see what it was about and how challenging it

would be to apply! I had contemplated going on a one day course for information on applying for the

award , but as it was £300.00 ( a little more if I can remember, and the school is struggling financially ) I

thought it best to try and have a go online. I am dyslexic and the online application was a nightmare. I

tried to get the office staff to help but they too found it very difficult to access. I asked the deputy head

for information and some help with the form but this wasn't very forthcoming (she was quite new to the


Q4. Did you ask for other teachers’ thoughts on a forum or just go straight to the official website?

Henry – It is a bit different for me because I am a validator for Artsmark. There is good online support

for Artsmark and the Arts Council have been brilliant at this. When we went from Artsmark to Artsmark

gold they were very supportive. The only occasion I needed them was for a technical issue. I don’t do

things by myself. I got the head of performing arts and my two deputies and we did it collaboratively.

Peter – No, we’ve done it a few times before. I did go on a training course a long time ago. That was


Mr Hales - Collectively, we started to gather evidence of our arts provision in 2009 in preparation for an

Artsmark application in 2010. The staff have had many meetings both to review what we have done,

and also to develop ideas for the future. Much has already happened in school as a result of these

discussions and planning. The research documentation submitted by the school to Artsmark in

October/November 2010 was a collaborative effort within the school. We did not access any other

teachers’ forums but did use the Artsmark official website to help us to focus on specific areas of our


Bernie - Each time we applied, although I was the one who in the end wrote up, the application was

made by a consortium of teachers. Because of course, it is not just me who does art in school but it

happens across the curriculum. We are a school of creativity for Creative Partnerships. I didn’t go online

for advice from teachers although I did speak to friends.

Julia – No.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Rebecca - We discussed our application within the school context, but did not use a teachers’ forum. I

believe a forum would be useful for teachers to discuss the process of application and share good


Helen - I did ask the PE teacher for his thoughts on clubs and activities and dance but was struggling to

find any information for the form.

Q5. Where online would you most want to find information or advice about Artsmark? (e.g. would it

be on an official Artsmark site or in any other place that you might spend more time online for

professional matters? If the latter, where?)

Henry - I would go to the Art’s Council website. PRUs are very different, for instance as we are not

always sure about our budget. The client group is also different. Main schools work in cohorts, but we

work with group of children who come as individuals which is not always easy to plan for. For instance

we have a child who is Grade 8 violin. So we weren’t planning to provide violin tuition, but we will now.

So in this sort of thing I look for the opportunity to use narrative to explain contextuality.

Peter - We are a school of creativity so we go to the CCE website, and to LONSAS, which is a helpful one.

It gives you good ideas. And A New Direction is the follow on Creative Partnerships broker for South and

East London. They are a very, very well informed arts organisation and broker and I thoroughly

recommend them.

Mr Hales - We would always refer, initially, to the Arts Council/Artsmark website because the links

within and beyond the site are easy to follow and very useful. When we are researching information,

organisations or professional support for our Arts Festival activities, we also access other sites

specifically directed towards the cultures of Africa, China, India and South America. We want details of

INSET on the Artsmark site for teachers, local contacts and workshops within easy reach. Information on

equipment and resources is also most welcome!

Bernie - Just the official Artsmark site.

Julia – If I were going to research Artsmark, I would go straight to the Artsmark site.

Rebecca - I think an official Artsmark site is necessary to give the award the recognition that it deserves

and to show outstanding practice across the arts. I also believe links to the site would be beneficial

perhaps from organizations associated with the arts or sharing a common approach towards them,

especially at a time when the contribution the arts makes to education, child development and industry

needs highlighting. Perhaps this could be from groups such as the NSEAD or leading arts organizations

RSC, RSA and influential educational websites.

Helen – I would go to the offical Artsmark site.

Q6. If you’ve used the Internet to research e.g. competitions or other school awards, how do you

think the Artsmark website compared?

Henry - Its very user friendly. When BECTA was running we won the excellence award for the region.

Their website was quite complex. This one is pretty good.

Peter - I haven’t compared it to other sites, but I did find it very useful.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Mr Hales – I think it compares very favourably! For example, the school is interested in developing

professional partnerships to enable us to deliver a Junior Arts Awards programme from 2012. The Arts

Awards site was very useful in keeping us updated and providing both email and personal contacts –

very important that you can speak to someone directly by phone.

Bernie – Nothing springs to mind.

Julia – I didn’t use the Artsmark website at all. I didn’t realise it was there. I tend to use the Creative

Partnership website a lot.

Rebecca - The Artsmark website is very clear, easy to navigate and has application forms and support at

hand. It showcases high quality examples in the arts. Compared to other websites I feel the website is

easy to use, but perhaps it requires more imagery for celebrating the arts. But generally it is the

simplicity of the site that makes it approachable.

Helen – I found it hard!

Q7. What are the main positive and negative factors in using the Internet to help develop your

school’s practice in a subject area such as arts or sports? In other words, what are the benefits

compared to going to training events/having meetings and what are the barriers?

Henry – There are no barriers at all as it is so embedded in what we do. We use Skype and those sorts of

programmes all the time. I do some work for Edexcel and I’m interested in the use of technology.

Peter – The benefits are that it is very easily accessible. I could make the application at home over half

term, which is unfortunately the reality of when you have time. One of the drawbacks is that you don’t

have personal contacts with other arts providers. There’s nothing like talking face-to-face with people to

find out what they are doing, particularly with artists and practitioners. I would never have got that on a

website. Creative Partnerships were great, because they were brokers, and could bring in good people,

and knew your school. I think that is the best thing, because very day I get inundated with requests and I

don’t have verification of their quality. When we get people through New Direction, we know we are

getting good quality.

Mr Hales - The Internet offers a broad perspective on the arts and sports – it tells you what you need to

know if you have the time and patience to follow through the links and explore the available options. It

also presents the wider perspectives and considerations so that you can put your own ideas and plans

into a wider context. What was particularly useful was reading the Arts Council’s strategic Framework

for the Arts over the next ten years articulating clearly the rationale for investing time, efforts and

money into Arts education. There will always be a place for training meetings and organised arts events

because they give teaching staff the opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues and professionals and

these informal contacts are often the springboard for co-operative ventures and school partnerships.

The personal association is important. Equally, the Internet is initially important in that it can help to

bring interested parties together – email, facebook, twitter, etc – thus facilitating an ongoing and

vibrant dialogue between arts practitioners. Also you’re not held back by time constraints – you can

access the Internet at any time. No real barriers. We don’t see many negatives! The Internet websites

are not a substitute for personal communication between interested arts/sports practitioners but simply

an extremely effective way of accessing useful information as a starting point for further development.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


Bernie – The Internet is much quicker. It’s much easier and more accessible and cost effective. We do go

to lots of courses, and nothing beats going to a conference where you can network with people. But the

Internet is at your fingertips.

Julia – The Internet makes it quick and easy to pass information along and redistribute it. However in

our application, I found the meeting really useful and encouraging, and I realised we had done a lot

more that I had written on paper. It would have been quite good if I had had the assessor in first before

the process started.

Rebecca - What the Internet does not provide is a high level of social interaction. Yes you can use

forums, chat rooms, blogs etc., but for creative practitioners, the social and hands on experience is

really valuable in moving their subjects forward. The Internet is great for documenting practice and

recording ideas: it saves time, provides quick access to resources and we all value those elements.

Perhaps an annual event would be useful to celebrate Artsmark schools’ annual contributions? The

Internet is great for sharing resources, contacting other practitioners when time is limited but does not

allow you to see, feel or share the beauty of the arts experience so you value its full potential.

Helen – The interent is quicker and accessible immediately and cheaper! I would find a training event

very useful and hope to avail of one. I would try and make it possible to go as I think its very important.

Q8. If you could imagine the perfect online resource for Artsmark: what would most help to inspire

you and help inspire your colleagues and students?

Henry - I quite like the idea of using upload buttons to showcase evidence – a place for people for

showcase their work. For instance we made an astonishing film of children singing, that shows the

quality that you can achieve in non-mainstream school. It would be great to have a place to put that.

Peter - To inspire me and my colleagues, I think it would need a little video clip or slide show or powerpoint

that showed you the benefits of doing something creative that would go towards Artsmark, and

that has enriched curriculum and made significant differences to the health of the school. And it wasn’t

just a talking head going on but seeing a piece of the process.

Mr Hales - We would like regular newsletters, updates and ideas sheets in respect of each of the

‘subject’ elements within the Arts – particularly Art and Design, Dance, Drama, Literature and Music – to

be forwarded directly to the subject Leaders within our school so that they had a direct link with the

Arts Council as an ‘umbrella’ organisation. It would keep Arts initiatives at the forefront of our thinking.

We would be prepared to pay an annual subscription for such a resource because we feel it would keep

us abreast of good practice and new initiatives.

Bernie - I would definitely have examples of how to complete the questions – a must! And easy to

answer questions: The Artsmark form is seventy pages. That puts people off straight away. It could be

done in a much easier way. It could be much shorter. With Creative Partnerships, when you apply to be

a school of creativity it’s 4 pages in comparison with seventy for Artsmark. You still have to get the same

information down, and it’s difficult trying to sell yourself in those four pages, but it’s much less daunting.

Julia – What would inspire us would be examples how they had applied it in a practical way.

Rebecca – We would like key examples of good practice; not too many so that you are overloaded, but

maybe examples that are changed each term or annually. A facility for practitioners to contact one

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


another for professional development would be very useful. We would also like links to quality learning

resources for the arts.

Helen – I would like access to other schools who have completed the application and more visual


Q9. What would be most helpful to save you time?

Henry – I can’t think of anything.

Peter – The length of the form is the biggest drawback.

Mr Hales - Time is all important. It is a busy and fast moving world out there! Sharing news, ideas, good

practice and details of local initiatives, courses and partnerships would be a fantastic help. The Arts

Council website has much to commend it in a broad sense but we would like to be able to contact local

Artsmark advisors personally and, if possible, meet them on site. Again, we would expect to meet costs

or pay an annual subscription.

Julia – It would be helpful to have a list of resources and people to contact and maybe a calendar of

events. We get so much stuff given to us, particularly for taking children to places and there is not

always a realistic timeframe. A yearly calendar of events would be extremely useful.

Rebecca – I would like the renewal process for consistently high achieving schools to be on a smaller

scale, or to have an online portfolio that we add to maybe twice a year so that our practice can be

viewed as we progress and an award given as a result. This would ensure all schools participating would

be developing and would also help you to manage renewals minimizing workload for both parties. I do

believe the extent of the form may put people off applying, but ultimately there does need to be some

level of assessment criteria to distinguish levels of practice. A concern of ours relating to Artsmark is

that the award appears heavily weighted towards the provision made for the arts, and we feel that the

quality of practice happening in education also needs to be considered and would welcome this in the

re-launch of Artsmark. However we do believe that Artsmark is extremely rewarding and we value their

commitment to profiling what the arts can offer in education today!

Helen – I would like to go on a course and to be able to speak to Artsmark advisors directly, as this has

happened when the two Artsmark colleagues visited the school. It was really helpful. We discovered

that the form sent to me was in fact for a gold award. It was very repetitive and confusing and offputting

and a bit of a guessing game, which they agreed. I also had another teacher onboard the day the

Artsmark representatives came. This was very helpful as two heads are better than one! We were then

able to discuss the outcomes together and hope that we can both go on the course. This teacher is

deputy head of speech and language and has a performing arts background as part of her degree, but is

a class teacher. I am working in isolation somewhat due to the nature and structure of the school, and it

is difficult to get evidence of "the arts" as I really am only involved in Art & Design. There is no Dance

teacher or drama specialist but I am still hoping to be able to find the necessary criteria to gain at least a

bronze status.

Flow Associates: research and recommendations for developing Artsmark web service


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