One of the things I love most about working in my current school is the fantastic house competition. It really feeds into almost every aspect of school life in much deeper ways than I am aware of in other schools. There are competitions virtually every week, some relating to subjects, others to extra curricular clubs, with some just for fun. It really brings students together and adds to their identity & sense of belonging. In many schools, it’s mainly sports competitions that dominate a house competition. While they still play a large part in ours, there really is something for every student.
A couple of years back whilst reflecting on our annual school film with a parent, they remarked to me how they would like to see a higher presence of non sport competitions. This was mainly down to logistics around documenting events, but it got me thinking. The ‘carrot’ of the house competition holds tremendous sway with us, so I was intrigued as to how this would influence a competition for the Art & Design Department. Up to this point there were competitions for anti-bullying week posters, photography, dress the guy & house films which are all still a big part of the annual calendar. But I wanted to look into launching an event that could ‘rival sports day’ in scale, and thus “The Creative Showdown” was born last year.
In the first year students (Yrs 7-10) had 3 weeks to produce Art & Design work in the following categories: Drawing; Painting; Mixed Media; Textiles; Film; Photography; Animation; Sculpture. The response was fantastic with over 250 entries. The scale of the competition was reflected in the overall points that contributed to the house competition. We launched a re-vamped KS3 January Art exhibition to include the Showdown entries which worked really well. We also joined forces with the Performing Arts departments at Expressive Arts Evening to combine their performances with ‘Creative Showdown’ prize giving & an exhibition opening.
This year the competition went fully cross-curricular with all departments having categories. The idea being for all students to have opportunities to showcase their talents. It was fantastic having the opportunity to discuss what creativity meant and looks like in each subject area with staff from each department. We gave students longer to work on entries, launching the competition with assemblies on ‘creativity’ (a great opportunity in themselves) in October, with hand in early January. Most departments had entries, with those that did not keen to develop approaches for next year. We had over 250 entries again which was fantastic, even after leaving Yr 10 off the bill so as not to distract them from other commitments (this will be reviewed again next year).
On Thursday night we had this year’s Expressive Arts Evening / Creative Showdown Awards & Exhibition launch. It was a fantastic event with a school hall full of proud pupils & their families. Some of the winners were spotted wearing their medals around school on Friday, and the follow-up conversations were fantastic. The confidence that events like this can give to students is immeasurable. We have all been buzzing today, and I wanted to share the story (which we look forward to building upon next year) along with some of our students work:
There were also entries for Media, History, English, Dance, Music, Food, Maths & PE which I hope to share once I have documented the content.