Arts Award couldn’t be a better fit!
BY: Guest Writer
27 Sep 2021
This week we hear from Kathryn Williams, Director of Rubicon Dance who talks about delivering Arts Award through their dance projects in Wales.
Arts organisation Rubicon Dance are a Trinity Champion Centre and operate in a wide range of contexts across several sectors providing exceptional dance opportunities. We initially considered delivering Arts Award because we wanted to give our work within the education sector consistency and recognition, whilst at the same time maintaining every partner’s needs and individual circumstances at the heart of what we provided. We felt a robust framework which allowed flexibility was what was required and were therefore delighted when our initial forays into discovering more about Arts Award demonstrated that this may be exactly what we needed as we developed our strategic plans.
A flexible framework
Pilot projects were put in place at Discover and Explore levels and the results of these led us to commit to designing more of our planning to incorporate Arts Award and what it enabled us to offer. The new curriculum framework in Wales has a Creativity and Innovation strand within which dance features as one element alongside other artforms. What better fit could there be than Arts Award which offers experience across more than one specialised art form and is creative, valuable and crucially, accessible and also gives a recognised external status to what we do?
Primary schools were excited at the prospect of a dance-based project which related and linked to other curriculum areas allowing creativity to develop, alongside sowing the seeds to enable growth of the ambitious, capable, ethically informed, healthy and confident citizens of the future. Rubicon felt with Arts Award as the framework, it could offer these opportunities and schools would buy into the project. And there was the possibility of moderation taking place within the Welsh language - a major plus!
Expanding our offer
Having tested the waters within the formal education arena we looked at what we may be able to offer those who, for whatever reason, find themselves outside those structures. One example was M who has learning and language difficulties. Her difficulties with language comprehension mean that she can rely heavily on contextual cues as an aid to understanding. She can also find it difficult to explain that she does not understand and has sequencing problems. Because of these issues M can lack self-confidence. Traditional routes post-16 weren’t working for her so, with her and her family on board we created a bespoke Arts Award Explore programme as a pilot.
After Explore came Bronze and then the challenge of Silver (during Covid). By this time M was really fully involved in the designing of her own programme with her advisers. Her Silver leadership project was to direct a short film about Life as a student on Rubicon’s full time BTEC Level 3 course. Covid added extra layers of difficulty to overcome but the flexibility of Arts Award and the fact that moderation needs only happen when the learner is ready all made this journey possible.
“I feel like I have come a long way since I first started. I never imagined that I would be self-assured in myself when I had to dance in the studio or in front of the other students and to make mistakes and laugh at myself and then move on and carry on. If you told me, the day I started, that I would in a year or two, be laughing at myself and then carrying on and not crying if I did not get the move or if I found it hard. I would have never believed you” M
For Rubicon Arts Award has allowed us to push our primary school offer to really support teachers within the curriculum and we can offer our new framework with confidence. We are about to embark on our second Silver Arts Award with another learner who is currently home educated but needs to find suitable routes to allow her journey within dance to continue. We also offer Silver Arts Award as a route for those who have taken GCSE Dance a year early with us but need a really motivating project prior to eligibility onto our BTEC Level 3 course.
Arts Award is a journey Rubicon and our learners embark on together, not a route the learner has thrust upon them. It couldn’t be a better fit for our artistic, social and business aims as an organisation.
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