Arts Award – The Alternative Way

Arts Award – The Alternative Way

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BY: Guest Writer
25 Mar 2024

Concluding our feature on Alternative Provision settings on the blog in March, Hazel Groves, Qualifications Coordinator at SENse Learning in Staplefield, West Sussex describes how the flexible nature of Arts Award really benefits their students in a 1:1 setting.

As an Alternative Provision setting working with young people who are struggling to attend or not attending school, we are continually looking for ways to develop self-esteem and acknowledge their wide-ranging interests and abilities. This is where Arts Award comes in. Initially offering Arts Award Discover and Explore, we have seen huge benefits to our young people supporting wider participation and engagement in learning through their interests in the arts. We are excited to be developing our offer to include Bronze and Silver Arts Award and the unique creative opportunities these levels present.

Everyone is differentProfile

In the same way that no two young people are the same, each student’s Arts Award journey at SENse Learning is unique. We have no art lessons or extra-curricular art clubs - we start from where the student is at. Most of the time, this is at home where they are comfortable and things are familiar. In our 1:1 sessions we tailor our learning activities to the individual’s interests and abilities. Arts Award fits perfectly with this model as a broad spectrum of arts activities can be tried, explored, and developed. Often resulting in evidence being produced even before the student realises they are working on something bigger!

Through their Arts Award work, our students have been able to look at and research some very specific and niche areas of interest from Aardman animation to Mamma Mia the musical. It gives them the opportunity to gain a qualification through doing things that motivate them. With support from education mentors and teachers, students collect evidence through a range of mediums including; scrapbooks, PowerPoint presentations, video recordings, observations, and witness statements. For so many of our students, making a written record of their learning is a barrier to achievement so the possibility of recording their work in other ways has really opened the door to allow our students to achieve. Recent projects have included arts and crafts, dance and singing, experimenting with paint, and photography.

Out and aboutPicture1-3

For us, one of the most exciting elements of Arts Award is the amount of work that can be completed, and evidenced, from activities and engagement out in the community. For our students who are happy to be out and about there are endless possibilities in their local community. Some of our students are lucky enough to live by the coast, and regular visits to the beach have been used to facilitate photography of the setting for part A of Discover. Their subjects included – beach huts, atmospheric skies, the beach – as well as the collection of sea glass, which they plan to use in an arts project for Explore part C. Other young people have been able to make use of visits to local artist galleries, or local theatres for part B of Explore, to engage with the arts and then share their experiences with family or team members for the sharing element of Discover and Explore. Each time it comes back to the students interests first and foremost, from there, we then support them to look beyond their homes and explore the arts in the community. This not only develops their interests and skills, but for some gives them a reason to engage with the wider world.

As and when…

Another huge benefit for our students is the low pressure, free flowing nature of Arts Award. WithWords on Watercolour no formal deadlines it reduces the anxiety felt by many of our students and enables them to engage in short activities over time to build up their arts logs. This includes the freedom to work on sections in any order, as long as they finish with ‘Sharing’ their Arts Award journey for part C of Discover and part D of Explore. Students benefit from trying a range of arts activities where the focus is not on the end product, but the process. Capturing that process is enormously valuable for our students to see how they themselves have grown and developed through the process. Working one-to-one with a trusted adult allows us to support them to discuss and record what they have enjoyed and learnt through their arts journey in a low pressured, supportive way.

The journey continues

We are so excited to be continuing our journey with Arts Award, expanding our offer up to Level 2 with Bronze and Silver Arts Award. These qualifications provide further opportunities for our students to develop as they encourage the sharing or teaching of an arts skill to others. In a setting where we work mostly one-to-one and building in these opportunities to work with others, however small the group, is invaluable. We look forward to sharing more about where our Arts Award journey takes us!

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