Towner’s Head of Learning, Marina Castledine, describes the gallery’s successful Arts Award provision for a group of vulnerable young people and how National Partners exhibitions have inspired new creative pathways.
Since 2012 the local authority, through a partnership with the County Council alternative education service, has commissioned Towner to provide academic provision in a vocational setting, to support young people aged 15-16 who’ve been excluded or are at current high risk of exclusion from mainstream school.
The ultimate aim is reintegration into mainstream education, although alternative settings often provide a holistic environment, enabling young people to more successfully gain qualifications and therefore enter pathways to further education and employment. At the gallery, we do this through delivery of Arts Award, a nationally recognised arts qualification, designed as a framework for personalised skills development.
Young people create individual portfolios evidencing three core criteria: communication, leadership and artform knowledge and understanding. The qualification is unique in that in begins with each learner’s baseline as a starting point, allowing them to take agency of their own learning by designing projects around their existing skills and interests.
The programme is funded by schools with some students travelling upwards of 20 miles to attend. We’ve been incredibly successful at Towner in offering both a safe and creative space to learn and achieving Arts Award. Classes include warm up, grounding and closing sessions plus art workshops in a range of media.