We’re thrilled that local school Grange Academy in Kempston has achieved the Artsmark Gold Award, after 15 months of innovative curriculum changes and rich arts experiences. The Grange took part in the BACE Twinning programme run by BCA and The Culture Challenge last year and we are delighted to have played a small part in their journey.
Grange Academy is a special community academy for pupils aged 5-18 with a wide range of ability levels and additional learning needs, including moderate learning difficulties and autism. Grange embarked on the Artsmark journey because it believed the arts could have a vital role to play in the educational and personal development of its pupils and its community. The award praised the school for increasing the confidence of its pupils through the arts and said it had “increased their social connectivity, with the effect of improving their communication skills, physical development, mental health and well-being.”
Having opened its doors to Bedford’s wonderful arts and cultural community, Grange has collaborated with Bedford University alongside the Philharmonic Orchestra, Corn Exchange and Primary Music Network to help pupils with special educational needs and disabilities to access the arts.
The whole school worked together alongside community artist Anne-Marie Abbate for its biggest project – UBUNTU – the school sensory garden, named after a South African quote made famous by Desmond Tutu meaning ‘we are who we are because of who we all are; I am human because I belong and I participate)’. Students participated in design competitions for murals in collaboration with graffiti and digital artists, horticulture students shopped for and planted plants with sense-stimulating properties, whilst DT and art students created hedgehog hotels, board games, signs and painted rocks.
Donations of plants, tiles, gardening equipment and tree stumps came from the local community and the Rotary Club assisted in fence building and path making. The grand opening took place in July 2019 with a theatrical sensory experience from Collar and Cuffs and special guest Pat the dog.
Students also took part in a range of experiences including: dancing with Hot House Dance, visiting museums and galleries, performing at the Head Teacher’s Conference and the Corn Exchange with leading musicians, orchestra studies with visiting members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, a Gigs4Kids interactive concert and an M&M theatre visit. Headteacher Catherine Assink thanked everyone involved, “for giving our pupils wonderful experiences and opportunities that they may never have had.”
This is by no means the end of Grange’s journey. Grange is now an Arts Award Discover & Explore Centre and is looking forward to giving students further qualifications in many meaningful ways.