Case study: The importance of purpose-built programs of study

Supporting young people into further education, and into jobs in the arts

Case study: The importance of purpose-built programs of study

Our setting is one where we offer any young person an opportunity to learn about any artform, set their own challenges and pursue their own direction. 

To support this diverse learning we created a multi-purpose, fit for all artforms, study pack. 

Or so we thought… 

Ely, our youngest staff member, grew up with the Arts Award, and we’ve lost count of how many times she has completed all the different levels of the Arts Award simply because she attended every event we ever organized! Plus, she has just completed Adviser training for the Bronze and Silver levels, and last year she supported several young people taking their Bronze and Silver Awards. Due to her wide understanding and experience of a variety of artforms, she realized that our online study packs were not supporting all our young people as well as they could be.

Ely thought the questions we asked in our study packs were too generalized and very biased towards the visual arts, and these questions didn’t make a lot of sense when we were supporting someone who was working in other artforms. 

Areas such as the performing arts required a very different approach.

So, Ely designed a new study pack that challenged performance artists and demonstrated their talents and skills. Ely called this ‘Perform Silver’. In this pack the young people are asked to:

  • choose a personal learning challenge in Unit 1 from any of the performance arts; 
  • provide a lot of video feedback, young performers should be encouraged to perform whenever possible; 
  • create an educational video in their chosen performance art, for their leadership project. 

Understanding that the young people may not be quite ready for a public demonstration of their talents on open social media, but seeing the need of a social media platform, Ely started the Arts Award Performing Arts Page on Facebook. 

To further encourage young performers, Ely created a variety of Explore and Bronze Arts Award packs based on Dance, Drama, Singing, and Music. These packs are currently being used by over 150 young people. 

We are yet to create a ‘triple threat’ performer who follows our route through the various levels, but we have a number of young people on this track and they are enjoying every minute!

Not content with this exciting array of study packs, Ely pioneered the development of another Silver Award online study pack to demonstrate abilities in a commercial visual arts subject, called ‘Illustrate Silver’. She knew, through personal experience, that prospective employers and college admission panels want to see a candidate’s Arts Award pack, especially if they demonstrate skills specific to the position being applied for. ‘Illustrate Silver’ provides the perfect platform to demonstrate a young person’s range and ability in Illustration. 

To support these young commercial artists Ely opened the Facebook page Arts Portfolio club. Which currently has almost 500 members sharing artwork. 

In ‘Illustrate Silver’ Ely decided that the personal learning project of Unit 1 should be used as a base for the leadership project, and in the pack she asked if the young person could create an illustrated educational leaflet. To make sure everything in the pack worked, Ely took another Silver Arts Award, using the ‘Illustrate Silver’ pack - she passed of course! The image on display is the leaflet she created for her leadership project.

Ely's new packs are supporting new talent, and opening up areas of art for many young people. She offers them almost at cost, and as a result she has had a response from many who would never otherwise have this opportunity to highlight their work in an increasingly competitive job and education market.


Carol Leach

Carol Leach

I have been an Adviser with Arts Award almost since it's inception. I've delivered all over the UK, and occasionally internationally. That's a lot of years as an Adviser - always working hard! But I love doing it, so hey, that's great. I get to work with fascinating artists, amazing kids - the best people in the world! I was also privileged to be a Moderator for five years, which gave me so many opportunities to extend my understanding of the presentation of the Award in a myriad of settings. I have used my knowledge of the Award to offer online too - working Trinity reps to create study packs which are used by so many home educated kids who are dedicated to their arts. Lucky me, I also get to run Arts Award Initiative Limited, a whole company dedicated to the Arts Award!

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