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Collaboration in Southend

Southend High School for Girls has worked with Metal and also with Focal Point Gallery in Southend to help support its Artsmark and Arts Award journeys. The power of collaboration is evident in the impact on pupils and through the tailored approach to working with schools.

We asked both Metal and Southend High School for Girls about how their relationship has evolved.


How did you make contact with the school?
We’ve had a good relationship with the school for a longtime, through various networking activities here at Metal such as our Future Park and Pecha Kucha events. Southend High School for Girls (SHSG) has also been really active in participating in our schools led programme, namely the Art Teachers Network meetings, and in recent years the Village Green: Next Generation Festival for young people.

What was your role?
We try and be responsive to the needs of the school, so if they come to us with an idea we can support them to make it happen. We are lucky to be able to have a physical space where people can meet, but are also really happy to go out to schools and deliver programmes or talk through, for example, best practice in delivering Arts Awards.

How do you feel this helped support the school in their Artsmark journey?
We were able to be available at pivotal moments within their journey, but equally importantly, we can augment their cultural offer through our regular artistic programme of activities.

What did you learn?
We learned that a ‘broad brush’ approach to engaging with schools is much less effective than a tailored, highly specific strategy, developed through face to face meetings with key members of staff.

Metal Art School has been especially helpful to us in allowing our students to do something creative which is different from that which they do at school – and in a completely different environment. The facilities and equipment offered to us for an afternoon recently, along with the expertise of the art practitioner who was demonstrating and guiding a technique that day, were of great interest and use to the students. We had an enjoyable and purposeful experience.

Ruth Stewart, Head of Art, Southend High School for Girls

Southend High School for Girls

Why did you work with Metal as a cultural organization?
The work with Metal was art driven. They provided us with opportunities to display work and we were able to work with them on a project called Village Green. Some of our students went there as student reporters and worked on BBC Newsreport.

What did you do with this cultural organization? E.g. was it a specific project or an ongoing relationship?
We have had specific projects with Metal, such as an afternoon in Metal Art School with our Year 12. The students used iPads as part of their artwork. We are also part of wider networking with Metal, as they have hosted local networking meetings.

Why did you work with Focal Point gallery?
Focal Point Gallery ran a series of workshops for Art A-level students. Our students looked at temporary exhibitions by a contemporary artist. Students met with the artist and responded to the work. This had an impact on their A-level portfolio and the contacts were later useful for their Arts Award. Sharon Byrne from Focal Point Gallery put up an exhibition of her own work at school and gave a talk about how it was made and her inspirations for the pieces. The Year 8 students used this as an interview/audience opportunity for one of four parts for the Bronze Arts Award.

What were the outcomes? Were there any surprise outcomes with both organizations?
Our students achieved surprising outcomes in their own artwork, using iPads and digital skills inspired by working with Metal. We have also made contacts that we didn’t have before and met with practitioners we didn’t know. For example, students made contacts for work experience.

How did it support your Artsmark journey?
We established new connections with Metal and feel connected to arts organizations. As a school, more contacts means a broader experience of outside influence for students. This has been a tangible outcome of Artsmark.