County Durham school children have successfully achieved an Arts Award thanks to their hard work and home learning during the lockdown.

Durham County Record Office began working with Year 5 children from Langley Moor Primary before the pandemic, helping them to complete an arts project and work their way towards an Arts Award Explore certificate.

As part of the project, the children were able to explore the arts, research Craghead artist Tom Lamb (1928-2016), and find out about the role that the Record Office plays in preserving art and culture and bringing them to audiences across the county and further afield.

Unfortunately, when they were just half-way through the project, the country went into lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Determined not to bring their hard work to a halt, staff from the Record Office began creating home learning resources so that the children were able to carry on and gain their awards, in which they all succeeded.

Inspired by an account of ten-year-old William Laws, a boy who worked at Blackboy Colliery near Coundon Grange, the Year 5s created their own characters and fictional accounts, with many illustrating their work with drawings or doing more research to make their accounts more detailed.

Dawn Layland, educational archivist at Durham County Record Office and arts award adviser, said: “I was really impressed at the children’s creativity at such a difficult time. Their work was really inspiring.”

The Arts Award is a programme of accredited qualifications offered by Trinity College London and in association with Arts Council England. Even under perfect conditions, the Explore certificate represents a significant achievement.

The project was described as ‘excellent’ by moderators at Trinity College London, who found the links between coal mining heritage and the exploration of art forms interesting.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “I’d like to congratulate all of the Year 5s from Langley Moor Primary for their hard work and dedication to their Arts Award. Working on the project from home during lockdown highlights how committed they were to achieve the award and it’s fantastic to hear of how creative they were with their efforts.

“I’d also pay tribute to our Record Office staff who have worked hard creating home learning resources to ensure the children could gain their awards. This dedication has helped our children achieve something very positive in a very challenging time and it’s wonderful to see a worthwhile outcome from that.”

More information on the Arts Award can be found online at

You can also find some home learning resources on the Record Office website

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