‘Enriching’ schools art competition returns for second year

Almost 100 schools took part in the first Art Bytes national inter-school art competition, and it was such a success it is now launching for a second year.

Run by Liverpool-based social enterprise dot-art, Art Bytes is open to all primary, secondary and SEND schools in England. But teachers need to be quick as they have to sign up by Christmas.

Art Bytes combines an inter-school art competition with bespoke virtual gallery technology. Schools submit artwork from their Year 5 or Year 9 students. These are showcased on the Art Bytes website where each participating school has its own page.

Forerunner of Art Bytes was dot-art Schools, which for the past 10 years has inspired more than 10,000 children and young people to get involved in art. Art Bytes is the natural evolution of that.

Lucy Byrne, founder of dot-art, said: “Art Bytes helps teachers celebrate creativity, nurture talent and raise ambition in a simple but highly effective way, building confidence and supporting wellbeing in young people.”

Once the artwork has been submitted a panel of judges, which includes experts from the National Society for Education in Art & Design, The Big Draw, Shape Arts and Access Art, will compile a shortlist. This will include the top three submissions from each school.

In spring 2023 there will be a public online vote where people can choose their favourite piece. This is open to art lovers from all over the world. The judges will then conclude the process by picking the regional and national winners.

A specially-designed Art Bytes Virtual Gallery will display the winning artwork from each school. The 2022 winners are still on display on the site and can be viewed until the New Year.

Virtual Gallery

All winners are invited to a special Celebration Event at our cultural venue partner for their region. Here, certificates are given out, regional and national winners announced and celebrated, and the Virtual Gallery exhibition is launched.

As well as being a fantastic experience for all the young people taking part, Lucy explains the competition can play a critical role in plugging the gap left by the squeezing of art from the curriculum over the past few years.

She added: “Arts Education in schools is absolutely vital, but teachers are more and more stretched. And there has been a 40% decline in arts GCSE entries since 2010.

“It makes little sense because the UK’s creative industries are growing at four times the rate of the rest of the economy.

“Creative jobs will be the most resistant to AI and automation in the future and it only serves to highlight the integral part that creativity should play in schools.”

Teachers from across the country have testified to the value of Art Bytes and the impact it has had on their students. Talia Armstrong from the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Cambridgeshire, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure taking part in Art Bytes.

“We are definitely going to take part again next year. It has been such an enriching experience for the students, and they are so proud of their achievements. The celebration event was brilliant also to get them and their families actually into creative spaces to show off their work.”

And Mrs Slater from Pewsey Vale School in Wiltshire, added: “As a small secondary school, I always encourage our creative students to explore all available opportunities to exhibit their work outside of school.

“Art Bytes has provided such a platform, which has sparked joy in our school. For year 9, it can be the turning point for many students in choosing a direction of study for the next two years.

“Having the Art Bytes exhibition opportunity has given our students a real sense of pride and confidence in their creative abilities. The public voting system allows for everyone to be involved in the process. We are thrilled to be taking part.”

Art Bytes is open to all Primary, Secondary and SEND schools in England. Watch a short video about Art Bytes here.

Schools can find out more and sign up NOW at artbytes.co.uk/registration/ until the end of December 2022. For further information contact hello@artbytes.co.uk or follow on Twitter @ArtBytes_ or on Instagram @artbytes_


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