The Woodroffe School, Dorset

The Woodroffe School is a rural 11-18 Secondary School in Lyme Regis, Dorset. The school gained specialist school status in the visual arts in 2003 and has been awarded Artsmark Gold three times since then.

The Arts have been held in high regard ever since we became a specialist school and from the specialist funding we have been able to increase the staffing both in teaching and in support staff, specifically to improve and develop our digital arts provision. We have increased the subjects taught at both GCSE and A level to now include Graphics, Music Technology and Photography as well as the traditional Arts subjects as a result of the extra specialist school funding.

The school also has invested in a community arts teacher who runs out of hours workshops, a Director of Arts, an AST who is given time to coordinate and plan extra curricular and community projects, a digital technician who is responsible for supporting the digital arts including music technology, an art technician and two DT technicians – all of whom are paid from the specialist school budget.

Tell us your story

Our approach to the Arts is very much due to the enthusiasm and support given by the Head Teacher. Of course the staff in the departments that deliver the Arts subjects are all passionate about their subject, however having the Head Teacher fully behind everything we do is massively important. We have a very succesful music, drama and art department who consistently produce work that is praised highly publically year on year, and parents are sending their children to the school because they have heard of its reputation as being ‘particularly strong across all areas of the arts’.

We are very proud of the look we have created for our learning environment. As we are in an old building with the usual problems that occur in old buildings, we have made a deliberate effort to cover all walls with art from the moment visitors arrive on the campus and as they progress through the school. This has meant investment in large scale murals and sculptures in the grounds and the art technician being responsible for display throughout the whole school in all the corridors. We are not frightened of allowing the students to paint murals on the walls inside the building, which most of the time has been extremely successful. We first applied for Artsmark in 2004 and hoped that the process would be of benefit to us. Our first realisation was, having done the arts audit, that we would benefit from including dance in to our curriculum. We managed to do this, as well as converting our old changing rooms into a new dance studio –a very useful addition, not only for dance but also as an additional space for Drama lessons.

The other aspect that our Arts census continually flagged up was the lack of participation from boys as they progressed up through the school. To address this we promoted after-school spray painting workshops with a professional mural artist. These sessions not only immediately attracted the boys but also helped us make a massive impact to those not so picturesque areas of the school site.

The impact in having Artsmark has meant that the school has been approached to take part in projects that have been incredibly beneficial in developing more specialist areas of the arts. One of the larger projects was to recieve Creative Partnership funding to develop our film-making skills across the school. This initial funding has had continual knock on effects as we now have digital equipment and the staff training that allows us to include film-making in different subject areas and with a variety of ages across the whole curriculum.

More recently the school has been sucessful in becoming a lead teaching school in the Jurrasic Coast Teaching School Alliance. We then were able to apply to become Cultural Coordinators across other teaching school alliances which has increased our overall Arts status tremendously. Through this scheme we are developing toolkits for teachers to use to assist them in running different projects across the arts and provide support as well as everyone sharing ‘good ideas’ and those particularly innovative and imaginative projects.

For more information, please contact Dot Wood, Director of Arts, Coordinator of Cultural Education.