Gifted pianist Derek Paravicini joined staff and students at Prior’s Court for an uplifting Music for Autism concert on Tuesday 13th December to celebrate the school receiving Artsmark Gold, the Arts Council England’s award for schools that champion arts and culture in the classroom.

In order to become an Artsmark School, Prior’s Court demonstrated its commitment to giving each and every child at the school, all of whom have autism and learning difficulties, a high quality art and cultural education, as well as showing ambitious plans for the future.  The award recognised the wide and regular programme of arts activities that has been built into the curriculum, from watching visiting theatre companies, to taking part in music performances and workshops and creating artwork with professional artists. 

A concert by Derek Paravicini was a fitting celebration and a regular feature within the eleven years Music for Autism concerts have taken place at the school.

Projects undertaken as part of the Arts development included a year-long singing programme by The Voices Foundation giving staff the skills and confidence to enable young people to express themselves and interact with each other through sound and music. In a school of predominantly non-verbal students the results have been very positive as some students who had previously not sung have begun to sing or hum whole songs during the class music sessions.

Commenting on receiving the award, Louise Cole, Senior Teacher who led the Artsmark application said: “I am over the moon with the result of our Artsmark award; it has been a long journey, which has enabled us to develop the arts provision at Prior’s Court and widened the opportunities for all of our young people to experience the arts first hand. Gaining the Artsmark gold award means a great deal for a setting such as ours, where the arts play such an important role in developing our young people’s communication and social skills, motor skills and creativity.”

Congratulating the school on becoming an Artsmark School, Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: “I would like to congratulate Prior’s Court on joining Artsmark Award and welcome them into our growing family of Artsmark schools.  To become an Artsmark School, Prior’s Court had to demonstrate its dedication to the arts. It has put together an ambitious plan which will ensure each of its pupils is given the opportunity to explore and build a love of the arts that will remain with them as they go through adult life.”

More photos from the day are available on our Facebook page.