Case study: Clayfields House SCH

Case study: Clayfields House SCH

Picture of Alan Lynch

BY: Alan Lynch
05 Sep 2018

Clayfields House is a Local Authority secure children’s home, housing the most vulnerable and at risk young people aged 11 to 17. We have sought to deliver Arts Award to all young people who stay with us for more than 6 weeks through them participating in a varied programme of positive and engaging experiences with a range of artists, enabling them to gain accreditation and an awareness of arts career paths, vital for their future life chances.

Most of our young people have had negative, inconsistent educational experiences and suffered significant losses in their lives prior to them coming to our centre. Many are statemented and /or display SEBD (Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) with some displaying emerging psychiatric disorders.


As our young people are unable to leave the centre we have a model which enables us to deliver Arts Award through a rolling programme bringing in a broad range of artists from the wider community into the centre, through which we have developed strong partnerships with arts organisations. We have successfully secured significant funding with their support to enable our really rich and diverse programme of arts activities to flourish. Given the varying risks our young people pose we ensure appropriateness but also enable choices by actively involving the young people in identifying artists/artforms they wish to study further. Our model incorporates delivery both in and out of formal education time, with a great many activities delivered during enrichment periods. We work with young people to ensure we introduce them to new art forms but also build their skills and nurture existing skills initially through urban arts, which we are then able to look at cultural influences. Young people watch showcase performances and attend presentations given by artists and then select from a range of workshops they wish to attend. Education staff and care staff support the young people, who are actively involved in decision making which strengthens the model and increases ownership, responsibility, and relationships with artists.

We worked with a variety of high quality artists, including Chris Caffrey from Deda of Derby, Baby People of Derby, Writing East Midlands enabled us to have our first Poet in centre - creative writer and poet The Mulletproof Poet, Lunchbox Films and Big Draw.Clayfields House SCH 01

There are Arts Award progression routes available for young people who are able to leave the centre prior to release to work towards Silver and Gold, as they have the opportunity to work with these organisations in the community at their studios. This could also be continued upon actual release into the wider community as part of their learning pathway. Professional development for all staff and artists has been ongoing throughout our skill sharing and collaborative working has enabled a really strong delivery for our young people.


The impact has been across the whole centre both for young people and staff. In terms of raising the profile of the arts and the wide range of learning and career pathways within the arts, and also the value of gaining Arts Award accreditation as it is so inclusive and provides progression routes for long term residents and also those going back into the community. Young people have been exposed to a wide range of artists and art forms and as a result are now able to identify specific areas of interest to study further for Arts Challenges – Silver Arts Award. The programme has created a buzz amongst young people and assemblies showcasing artists are always full and young people are more confident engaging with and talking to artists. Workshops with artists work especially well when young people are able to be involved in planning the group of young people they wish to work within and select from a range of artists to work with. As most of our young people have little or no accreditation when they come to our centre the achievement of AA accreditation for them is significant, and skills and confidence building.

‘Our Arts Award programme develops team work, trust, relationships, literacy, emotional health and wellbeing, gives appropriate means of self-expression through the arts and nurtures self-control, which young people need to re-integrate back into society.’ Nicola Crook, Education Team at Clayfields House, Arts Award adviser

There are young people who had to learn to manage their own behaviour and reduce their risk levels to access certain arts activities. So for these young people, reducing self-harming and violence to others was a significant challenge. For others it was trying to let go of preconceptions, and stereotypes, this was especially noticeable at the start of dance sessions, and the expertise the dancer displayed challenged young people to change their ideas and develop their Arts knowledge. This resulted in some boys discovering they had a real talent for dance. Many young people have discovered that they find participating in the arts relaxing and enjoyable, and want to continue working with certain artists, to develop their individual strengths further. Their confidence has grown considerably and they now have ideas about art forms they would like to continue to explore upon release.

Clayfields House SCH 02The young people participating also won The Under 18's Special Award from the Koestler Awards!

'I can’t believe all the things I have taken part in for my Arts Award; street dance, VJ-ing- I didn’t even know what it was – as well as singing! I'd never normally have done all of this, it’s been different and I'm glad I did it' Keiran, Bronze Arts Award achiever

'The music was best for me, Rapping/MC-ing with Cappo and Jaws. I want to do more, I want Malik to come in again, I want to work with him, he was 'sick ' in the assembly. I want to perform live again and not mess up my words, I know I can do it. I’ve achieved my Bronze Arts Award, and I’m doing Silver now.' Luke, Bronze Arts Award achiever

' I loved everything; the dancer was great cos I love music and dancing. I liked singing and I wrote my own song and the boys were my backing singers which was good, they were really nice working with me, I’ve got a CD with my songs on it, the artist he played guitar while we sang, I can’t play guitar but it sounded good.' Shannon, Bronze Arts Award achiever

'It’s hard performing live - it’s easy when you're singing with a few of you in a small room, but when you perform in front of everybody and the artists in assembly you feel sick, excited but sick. I didn’t think I would do it, as I'm so self-conscious but in the end I did, and it was such a buzz, you feel really good about yourself.' Jasmine, Bronze Arts Award achiever

‘I am fully committed to the arts and Arts Award is fantastic as it is truly inclusive and achievable for all abilities and special needs of young people in our secure setting. It provides a clear structure for young people exploring the arts, working with artists and nurtures their talents and developing new skills. Working with young people and artists together is best when learning new skills together and sharing experiences and builds relationships which are key to young people’s personal growth and success. Watching a young person perform live or share their skills with another young person is really rewarding as it shows the development of skills, confidence, and self-control, all of which are skills for life.’ Nicola Crook, Education Team at Clayfields House, Arts Award adviser

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