Putting creativity at the heart of Ryburn Valley High School

Ryburn takes a whole school approach and puts creativity at the heart of their school ethos

Ryburn Valley High School is a secondary school in Sowerby Bridge with some 1450 students. The school puts creativity at the heart of their school ethos describing creativity on its website as ‘intelligence having fun.’

A whole school approach

‘Our school breaks boundaries to create a fertile culture where creativity flourishes. A creative circle which constantly reinforces itself; a whole school approach, driving creative teaching, community and students.
Ryburn is known as a creative school, a strength recognised by our Artsmark Platinum, the only creative quality standard for schools accredited by Arts Council England, and we understand the wider benefits it brings. Cultivating creativity is a priority here. It gives our students life skills, creating innovators and problem solvers who will succeed in a changing world. It builds confidence and wellbeing, helps students withstand academic pressures, and enriches lives. And, as our results show, improves performance.’

Focussing on the individual

A new focus on Identity is one of the means by which creativity is cultivated:

‘In 2017, we exploded PSHCE, replacing it with our Identity Curriculum. In iGen, classes read a novel together, creatively exploring key themes. Everyone teaches it, so the impact across school has been huge, developing an expressive confidence in teachers. Students build greater knowledge of the world, expanding their cultural capital, compassion, and gaining insights that help their own mental health.’

Developing connections with cultural organisations

The school stresses the value of connecting with community groups, businesses and arts organisations so that students can take part in activities such as working on a real TV set and collaborating with professional artists on events including Winterlight Festival and Piece Hall’s ‘Enchanting Windows’.

Teachers are also working with the Crafts Council’s ‘Make Your Future’ project, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

“All such connections enable students to blossom creatively, connecting what they do in school and the real world.”

Celebrating the value of creativity

Ryburn’s whole-school creative approach allows student to develop their skills and confidence whilst connecting with creative organisations in their community.

“Many schools sideline creativity as a result of a narrowing curriculum. At Ryburn, we want to share our story of how enabling creativity to flourish inspires the innovators needed in our ever-changing world.”

Find out more about how Artsmark helps develop and celebrate school’s commitment to arts and cultural education here.

Takeaway tip

In embedding creativity in PSHCE Ryburn Valley High School shows how powerful it can be when teachers stop and rethink a significant area of the curriculum. Could you try something like this in your school?

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    • Case studies

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    • Artsmark

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