Hi Carol, could you first introduce yourself for the reader?
My name is Carol Leach and I am the lead Adviser at the Arts Award Initiative (AAI)
What is the AAI?
We were established to support young people to take Arts Awards. We offer holiday schools, workshops, support services for other Advisers and online support for independent learners.
Apart from our contract teachers, there are four of us who help at AAI. Myself as Director, and my 3 daughters. All of us have been with the Arts Award since their inception myself as an Adviser and Moderator, and my daughters as students, then leaders.
- Michaela Stephens, age 27, was the first person to get her Gold Arts Award in Kent, a title she held for two years; she progressed to leading the Award, and she was the first person to offer a course for Discover and Explore in the UK.
- Abi Leach, 21, was a Student representative for the Award in her teens and received a national award from Potential Plus for her services to the Arts Award within the organization.
- Ely Leach, 15, has grown up taking part in Arts Award programmes and is an expert! She finished her last Award at the Gold level a long time ago but she still offers workshops of all descriptions when needed, and she has attended hundreds of workshops led by other young people taking the Award in order to support them through their leadership projects.
What do you offer to young people?
AAI offer any young person age 4-24 the opportunity to take an Arts Award. We offer online options using study packs created in conjunction with Trinity College, which carefully leads the young person through the award. We also offer summer schools, local clubs, and one-off opportunities.
What activities are most popular for young people and why?
A lot of our students are either very independent learners or home educated, they love our programme which allows them to work at their own pace and pursue a subject they are passionate about – hundreds take their Award using our online packs.
Tell us about a recent project you have run, and the impact it had
One of our life-changing opportunities is our rather intense Gold Award programme which we run over the Easter holidays, students can finish a Gold Award within a month!
They do this to achieve a specific goal, to prepare for an interview or similar, they can’t do it in a normal timescale because their school work has kept them very busy but they are desperate to attain Gold. They have to work so very hard to achieve in this time scale and they need a lot of support. So far this year our students have received several offers to local colleges and universities and several have already had offers of placements, one at Brit school and one to take Graphic design. AAI is always very involved with our students and we are very proud of all of our students but we are especially proud of these guys and there are often happy tears shed in the office when we hear about their successes.
Have you seen any change in the industry over the last few years? Is it positive or negative?
I think that Arts Award has gained a lot of credibility over the years because people have recognized the number of life lessons young people can learn whilst taking it.
When we started offering the Awards many years ago there were no programmes and no opportunities available to young people, now there are a vast number and variety of opportunities at all levels.
With Voice, Trinity allowed all young people to share their experiences online, and this has proved to be a very popular site, with thousands sharing their excitement and wonder at the things they have seen and done. They also get the opportunity to brag about their achievements - which we think is an excellent thing to do!
We have recently heard that the young people who we helped to pass the Award 7/8 years ago, who are currently working in an Arts Industry, are now supporting the next generation of young people to achieve in their Awards, offering learning, voluntary and support opportunities, we find this very exciting.
How can young people get involved?
All young people have to do is email us: [email protected]. We offer the cheapest rates we can, and we run a scholarship programme for those who can’t afford to take an Arts Award.
Do you publish any online resources that young people doing Arts Award could use?
We love our online resources, thank you Trinity reps for helping us to create them! We pop a study pack onto a doc for every student, whether they want to work online or not – they are very easy to use. We update them regularly and we are really happy that they support so many young people to achieve.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I would just like to say to anyone who is wavering about their Awards at the moment – go for it! Your life could be changed.
Where can people find out more about the work you do?
Get involved with Arts Award
Arts Award (What is Arts Award?) helps you to grow your talents, explore the arts, be a creative leader and get a qualification. If you’re already participating, go you! Head over to our Bronze and Gold hubs for more inspiration and support.
Join our Arts Award alumni network
We’re on the lookout for Arts Award alumni everywhere! We’re here to help support you in your next career steps and offer some useful and interesting benefits! Find out more and sign up.
Write for us
Help others like you get through their Arts Award qualification by writing about your tips and experiences. Become a Voice Contributor today.