Mounts Bay Academy

Arts Award Good Practice Centre 2014-15

Mounts Bay Academy is a large secondary school in rural Cornwall. They have been running Arts Award for over three years and so far 150 students have achieved awards. Mounts Bay has an ‘open to all’ policy for Arts Award, with participating students ranging from those with Special Educational Needs to students identified as Gifted & Talented. Weekly clubs for Arts Award Explore through to Gold provide weekly mentor contact for students.


Arts Award is offered as an option for all students, and is delivered via extra-curricular clubs, events and trips. In Year 7, students are encouraged to engage in the award through arts clubs. In Year 8 the whole year group are invited to work towards Bronze Arts Award, and in Year 9 those who completed the Bronze Arts Award are invited to take part in Silver. In Years 10 and 11 all those who have completed Silver are invited to do Gold Arts Award. Students’ participation and progression through the levels relies on them being independent and motivated.

Mounts Bay Academy recently started a primary outreach scheme to deliver Arts Award Discover. Students from St Madderns School came into Mounts Bay for a lesson each fortnight to participate in Taiko drumming and photography workshops. Mounts Bay provided an outline of Arts Award Discover to teachers, and encouraged St Madderns to use activities with local artists and organisations to contribute to other parts of the award.

Students from Mounts Bay take part in the Golowan Festival in Penzance each year. Recently, two Gold Arts Award students coordinated an acoustic music day and a band night at two local venues as part of the festival for their Unit 2 (leadership of an arts project). They coordinated performers from local schools, colleges and the community, as well as organising all the technical production, promotion and refreshments.

The school also participated in National Museums Takeover Day at Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance. The event was coordinated by six Silver Arts Award students who organised a full day of poetry workshops in the gallery inspired by the art work on display. In the evening, the museum was turned into a venue for a night of 1940s inspired live music played by over 30 musicians from school, poetry readings and dance performances. The Silver level students used this event to complete Unit 2 (arts leadership) of their Silver award, while Bronze level students used the poetry workshops and participation in live music performances to complete Part A (explore the arts as a participant). A Gold level student also created a film inspired by the paintings exhibited in the gallery which was screened in the evening, as part of her Unit 1 Part A (extend own arts practice). The events were such a success, that Mounts Bay have been invited to repeat the project this year.

Most students use either sketchbooks or plastic folder files for their Arts Award portfolios. A number of students also use Pages, Keynote and Prezi programmes on their iPads to record evidence. Mounts Bay are also starting to experiment with using Artsbox to create portfolios.

A 24-hour gig is put on every two years at Mounts Bay to raise money for Arts Award. The school also won a grant from Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), their local Bridge organisation for their Gold programme.

Mounts Bay Academy works with a number of artists and organisations to create ‘real world’ experiences for students and provide them with stimulating challenges. Partners include Golowan Festival, Hall for Cornwall, Kneehigh Theatre, Acorn Theatre, Penlee Museum, Deep Blue Sound, Eden sessions, Newly/Exchange Gallery, St Ives School of Painting, Sarah McQuiad (musician), Martin Stansbury (sound engineer/tour manager), Mary Woodvine (actor), John Keys (artist), Lizzie Black (textiles), Awen (filmmaking), Dogbite (filmmaking), Steve Tanner (photography), Kevern (photography), Young Americans (music/dance). They also work closely with their Bridge organisation.

Plans for developing Arts Award provision at Mounts Bay Academy include building on the Discover and Explore programme with local primary schools, extending and diversifying the range of trips and workshops on offer to students and extending links with Penwith College and Deep Blue Sound to develop the Gold programme work
placement and workshop opportunities.


Arts Award has created a real sense of community at Mounts Bay Academy. Students gather every break, lunch and after school to take part and work with their peers. The whole school gets involved in Arts Award fundraising and staff and senior management fully support the award and the way it develops students understanding of the arts.

The award has had a particularly positive impact on a Year 10 student who struggles with school and has been in and out of the local short stay school after several exclusions. He is a musician with an interest in singing and rapping. Through the course of his Bronze and Silver awards he has become a regular performer at events at school and the local community. He is now in school and enrolled on a Year 10 Music Technology course.


‘I became an Arts Award adviser because it offers the recognition of a national award for students involved in lots of extra-curricular arts. It encourages peer group and independent learning and offers a proper insight into the professional arts industry.’

Shelley Claxton

Community Arts Development

‘We worked with Arts Award students from Mounts Bay Academy for Museum Takeover Day in November 2013. We were really impressed with the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of the students, and the Mounts Bay Academy Arts Award team were brilliant. We are again being ‘taken over’ by Arts Award students from Mounts Bay this year, and we hope to build on this partnership in the future.’

Zoe Burkett

Education and Outreach Officer, Penlee House Gallery and Museum

‘The impact of Arts Award at Mounts Bay Academy has been tremendous. Young people have developed creativity and leadership beyond all our expectations. The community is enriched by the variety and quality events that has resulted from their work, and the self belief that has been engendered in the participants is palpable from Bronze to Gold arts Leaders.’

Sara Davey

Headteacher, Mounts Bay Academy

‘It’s good to learn about things we are passionate about and enjoy’


Bronze Arts Award achiever, now working towards Silver Arts Award

‘Arts Award is an extremely enriching opportunity to be given here at Mounts Bay Academy. It not only develops my own arts practice, but makes me think more deeply about the wider arts sector. Along with this, we are enabled to plan our own events and interview artists – both of which are very inspiring.’


Bronze and Silver Arts Award achiever, now working towards Gold Arts Award