The UK launches the first arts course for adults with learning-disabilities

The UK’s first degree-level performing arts course has been launched for adults with learning-disabilities and/or autism. 

The UK launches the first arts course for adults with learning-disabilities

In partnership with York St John University, a new disability-led course will see students receive a Certificate in Higher Education in Performing Arts, which is equivalent to a level 4 qualification or the first year of a university degree. 

The three-year course will cover classic and contemporary theatre and dance techniques, music production and composition. According to York St John University it is ‘the first of its kind in the UK’. Mind the gap Academy, in Bradford, will host the course and ‘aims to develop skills in devising theatre’, giving students the opportunity to gain industry experience. 

Mind the Gap have been running its autism and disabilities arts training programme since 1998, with many accreditations over the years for its courses, but this will be the first recognised by a higher education institution. 

“The validation from York St John University is a huge coup for Mind the Gap,” says Academy Director Charli Ward.  

“It really cements the company as a beacon for learning-disabled creatives and further strengthens our reputation within the industry.”  

Professor Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice at York St John said:

“Through this unique partnership with Mind the Gap we are able to challenge some of the presumptions about who education is for and who can access higher learning. We are hugely proud to be working with Mind the Gap on this ground-breaking initiative.”  

Mind the Gap’s Academy has more than doubled in size over the past few years from 30 students a week in 2012 to almost 70 a week in 2020, making it the largest of its kind in the UK.  

It runs a weekly one-day course in dance, music, and theatre and a weekly four-day Performance Academy course for advanced students which are currently recognised through Arts Award at Bronze and Silver levels.  

The deadline for applications for the course, which has 15 places, is 7 June.

For more information on the course or courses available visit


De-Mornae Clarke

De-Mornae Clarke Kickstart Team

De-mornae is a Kickstart Journalist for Voice. Music, interviews and pop culture are her preferred topics of interest but is often pushing her own creative boundaries to prove that anyone can have an opinion regardless of their background, education or class.

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