Banbury primary school receives accreditation from art council for anniversary sculpture

A Banbury primary school is celebrating after receiving accreditation from Arts Council England for its tree sculpture, which celebrates the history of the school.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

For the past 18 months, staff and pupils at Dashwood Banbury Academy have been working on a variety of art projects that culminated in a whole-school collaboration tree sculpture that celebrates the 120th anniversary of the school.

Under the guidance and tutelage of artist Emily Cooling, students aged two all the way to year six worked together to create a huge willow tree lantern sculpture to feature in the school library.

The school received the silver Artsmark award for the work, meaning that the arts council deems the school to have a strong link to arts, culture, and creativity.

The completed tree sculpture in the library, which has earnt the school the silver Artsmark award.The completed tree sculpture in the library, which has earnt the school the silver Artsmark award.
The completed tree sculpture in the library, which has earnt the school the silver Artsmark award.

Vice principal Annelise Gooch said: "Because we are celebrating our 120th anniversary, we wanted something big and memorable that would stay forever. The tree sculpture seemed particularly appropriate and symbolic. Every child in the school has created a leaf for it.

"Coming back from COVID, it was a joy to be able to work collaboratively again. We had older children working with younger ones, mentoring them. It was great to see them exploring cultural capital, different artists, and looking at our community for inspiration."

The school was supported by Cherwell District Council and the North Oxon Cultural Education Partnership, which funds staff training and connects schools to local artists with the aim of enriching learning.

Annelise said: "We’re so grateful to the CDC and NOxCEP for their input. This is the first time an Artsmark award has been achieved at Dashwood. We’re really invested in our arts curriculum, and to have this sort of recognition in an area we are hoping to develop further is very rewarding. We’re already thinking about the next award and going for gold!"

Staff and pupils worked together to create the huge tree sculpture.Staff and pupils worked together to create the huge tree sculpture.
Staff and pupils worked together to create the huge tree sculpture.

Year four teacher Jodie Shaw said: "The children have learned so many new skills and had so many new opportunities. The project has allowed them to be part of creating something large-scale and produce an outcome that inspires awe and wonder. They have learned how to weave willow using their knowledge of angles, proportion, and fractions, and they’ve also learned how to create a tissue skin and blend colours to create different effects."