Throughout the UK, arts and cultural organisations are running programmes aimed at giving young people valuable work experience, many of these accrediting young people’s achievements with Arts Award. An increasingly popular approach is to deliver a work experience week by inviting a group to explore the work of different departments. We spoke to three organisations that have successfully embedded Bronze Arts Award into their work experience week and achieved great outcomes.
Bristol Old Vic
Engagement Coordinator, Hattie De Santis, embedded Bronze Arts Award into Bristol Old Vic’s first Year 10 Big Work Experience Week:
22 students from a range of schools across Bristol took part. We found it relatively easy to embed Arts Award alongside our existing plans for the week. The week was structured with a variety of masterclasses from each department in the building to enable young people to see the vast range of jobs available in theatre. They learnt about acting, directing, producing, fundraising, stage management, box office, front of house and more!
We used booklets with set tasks for students to complete for each part of the award, this helped consolidate their learning and build a folder full of evidence. The group watched two performances which they used for their Part B explore the arts as an audience member. By the end of the week, the young people were confident enough to share some of the skills they had learnt from professionals for their Part D arts skills share. It was a great way to end the week and rewarding for the group to see how far they had come.
One Year 10 participant told us: “This week has been a huge impact on me and has taught me a lot. I will treasure this experience forever.”
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Jess Craig, Participate Coordinator (Schools) from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) provides a daily breakdown of the activities that two young people completed in May 2018:
Prior to the week, I would put together a detailed schedule which allowed young people enough time in the office while providing opportunities to observe and experience various arts events that they would only have access to as part of a work experience week.
On Monday, students spent the day shadowing the different departments of our orchestra, helping with tasks such as writing bar numbers in the music scores and drafting a press release. This enabled them to get to know various aspects of arts administration.
Tuesday and Wednesday we hosted our Schools’ Concerts, with different schools attending each day. These are big events that attract around 1,500 children and so this was a big day for team Participate. It’s our job to manage the crowd, register schools and show children to their seats. The work experience students helped us with all of the tasks and watched performances for their Part B.
On Thursday, students were involved in another big project called “Symphony 125” where different schools came together to play a piece. Students brought their own instruments and took part for Part A. There was a range of instrumentalists in attendance, from complete beginners to grade 8, which was great for work experience students because it gave them the chance to help younger musicians as well as being guided by BSO musicians around them.
Finally Friday was the opportunity for students to gather what they had learnt and decide who they wanted to research as their arts inspiration for Part C. They chose to research conductors from the orchestra and inspired by a body percussion and Makaton song from the Schools’ Concerts, decided to teach each other and members of the Participate team the routine for Part D.
Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust
From Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (SIMT), Rebecca Walton Learning Programme Coordinator, tells us about their work experience week in July 2018.
Providing young people with access to professionals is very powerful. SIMT’s approach to work experience has always focussed on offering a structured programme that gives young people the opportunity to experience a little bit of all the jobs that people do in our museum. Young people took part in half day or one day workshops led by our Learning team, including our “Interactors”: experienced creative practitioners who deliver our live interpretation programme. They responded well to each of the interactors that came in to work with them and having a new person each day seemed to keep their interest going and helped them bond as a group.
One outcome that came about as a result of delivering Arts Award as part of our work experience week was that young people got the chance to share their skills with their peers and this was something they identified as one of the best parts of their work experience. I also feel that this experience will help some of our staff that have struggled with moving from a didactic role to a facilitator role, seeing that young person-led learning can work well in the right circumstances. A celebration event also gave young people a chance to show friends and family the skills and knowledge they had learned.
This year was the first year we included Arts Award in our work experience offer and our uptake doubled compared to previous years. We have kept in touch with some of the young people since the work experience and one of them has joined our young volunteers club.
For further reading, check out how Arts Award supports apprenticeships. We’ve got plenty of support available to help embed Arts Award into your work experience offer. Check out our 5 day Bronze resource which will help you to plan, alongside our handy mapping document.