Arts Award for Looked After Children

Arts Award for Looked After Children

Picture of Guest Writer

BY: Guest Writer
07 Mar 2016

In our latest Good Practice Centre guest post, Vicki Taylor from Work in Progress Arts tells us about how they’ve delivered Arts Award to Looked After Children, with some advice for any centres working with similar groups.

Hello there!

My name is Vicki Taylor and I am the Arts Award Lead Deliverer for Work in Progress Arts - an Arts Award Good Practice Centre based in Birmingham. Last year, we had a great level of success having submitted 34 Arts Awards (across all 5 levels) in May 2015, and then a further 81 Arts Awards (again, across all 5 levels) in November 2015. This is a great success for our little creative arts company, but even more so because over half of these young people were Looked After Children within the care system here in Birmingham. This blog post, therefore, is being written to provide you with some inspiration and guidance in relation to working with Looked After Children to successfully deliver the Arts Award.

"I have really enjoyed coming to be part of the Arts Award group" - Aailyah

Firstly, I would like to tell you a bit more about me, and a bit more about Work in Progress Arts (WiP). So, as I said, my name is Vicki - with two i’s… two eyes on my face so two i’s in my name ;-) and I am a 28 year old Researcher and Arts Award Lead Deliverer. I am also a student studying a Masters of Education in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities at the University of Birmingham. I love my job and I love my course, but life does come with challenges. The reason I wanted to do my Masters course is because I can relate to people with SEN and disabilities as I have disabilities myself - autism, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, severe dyslexia and ADHD to name a few, and I live within the care system (for adults). Therefore, I have a real passion for the theme of this blog post.

"I recorded my Arts Award on videos and it was great" - Ramell

Work in Progress logoWork in Progress (WiP) was founded in April 2009 by Director Ruth Richardson, and became a registered company in October 2013. The company is a small creative arts organisation that delivers work with, for and by children and young people. We also deliver training and consultation activities for companies working with children and young people. Ruth has an abundance of experience working with children and young people having worked for Rights of Children Drama (Looked After Children), Midlands Arts Centre, Playtrain, Women & Theatre, The Drum Arts Centre, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the National Memorial Arboretum to name just a few! Ruth and I have actually worked together for over 13 years now and have been delivering the Arts Award since 2006.

"My favourite part of Arts Award was taking part in dance" - Israel

Arts Connect logo

Last year, WiP was commissioned by Looked After Children’s Education Services (L.A.C.E.S) as part of their work at The Drum. This project involved a large number of Looked After Children participating in a Creative Arts Summer School at the venue, which also included an Arts Award session at the beginning and end of each day, and was supported with funding from our regional Bridge organisation Arts Connect.Like all children there were a mixture of needs and backgrounds, however for Looked After Children, these needs can be amplified by their backgrounds. This can lead to all kinds of support requirements and difficulties including attachment disorder, anxiety, and sometimes oppositional defiance disorder. Some children may have been placed into the care system because they have special needs or disabilities, whereas others may be in care because of the loss of their parents or issues within the family setting.

"The Arts Award tutors helped me keep my cool during sessions" - Sam

It is important to consider the possible needs of the children coming into your Arts Award Club even though you may not ever discover the details of their situations. Because of the possible disruption in their pasts, some of these children may struggle with learning skills such as reading and writing or have difficulties managing their behaviour or emotions. Therefore, it is key that the award is flexible. Fortunately, Arts Award is very flexible in the way that it can be delivered, as well as the way that the young person’s work is presented for moderation.

"I loved going on the trip and writing a review" - Liaba

WiP group photoWhen working with the Looked After Children during Arts Award sessions, it was agreed that they would begin on Explore Level (or Discover if their understanding or age was not appropriate for Explore) as the Summer School presented the children and young people with opportunities that met the requirements of that level. In some cases, young people aged 11 plus moved on to Bronze level once Explore was completed. However, some children found reading and writing challenging and presented defiance to completing the work. Fortunately, WiP recognised the difficulties and were able to offer an alternative to the children having to write. Instead, the children were recorded speaking about what activities they have been participating in, and presenting their artist research via film. This flexibility enabled the children to achieve their awards in a format that they were comfortable with and also gave them something that they could lead on (filming each other) which increased their confidence and provided them with an immediate sense of achievement.

"I really like that I could progress through the levels" - Hassan

I hope that this has inspired you too, to work with Looked After Children or children who have other complex needs. If you have any questions or want to find out more about how we deliver our Arts Award Clubs across Birmingham – our latest started this month - then please visit our website: or email

I hope to read your success stories soon.

Take care,

Vicki (Work in Progress Arts)

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