Adviser: Lesley McDowall


The Link Education Centre has been running Arts Award for three years. They have so far taken 10 young people through to moderation. Lesley McDowall is the lead adviser.

Students come to the centre with a range of medical needs and personal challenges, many of them anxiety-related. Arts-based activities give them an opportunity to work creatively in a social environment, and Arts Award rewards this process.


Arts Award is offered as part of an enrichment programme for students at the centre. A number of subject areas support Arts Award delivery, giving students opportunities to work within Art and Design, English, ICT and PE.

The centre’s approach to delivering Arts Award depends very much on the group of young people taking part. Lesley tries as far as possible to work with individuals’ specific interests and strengths. Past projects have included drama, street dance, puppet work, collage, mask making, stage and special effect make-up, t-shirt design and cartoon drawing.


Students submitted work completed as part of their Arts Award to the 2012 UK Children's Fine Art Competition and the International Children's Exhibition of Fine Arts Lidice 2012. Arts Award participants from the centre were selected as national and county winners, with two students achieving county runner up for their mixed textural collages.

The competition had a positive impact on students’ confidence, especially those whose work won awards. Every entrant received a certificate acknowledging their efforts which they will include in their Record of Achievement and use for post-16 interviews.

Another highlight of the 2012 project was students experiencing a trip to the theatre – some for the first time.

Cultural Links

The Link Centre works with the Engine Room community media centre in Bridgwater to support students’ work on short animated films.

Lesley is confident that Arts Award will continue to be part of the centre’s enrichment programme and hopes to extend the range of activities on offer to students. This is likely to include a photographic project based on local heritage with the Engine Room, and a project based on Bridgwater Fair and street art.


Lesley found the postal moderation process straightforward and students were able to celebrate their success before going on study leave.


The costs for materials, visits and moderations are paid through subject-area and departmental budgets.


‘I have taught drama for well over 30 years, but I still consider myself a new-comer to visual arts. With Arts Award, I’m learning about new art forms alongside the students.’

Lesley McDowall

‘Arts Award is rewarding because it creates success. Taking part is integral to the Bronze Award, and key to young people’s success. Sharing skills is not always something our students find easy, but Bronze Arts Award enables them to do this for a specific purpose and teaches them that sharing can be positive and rewarding.’

Lesley McDowall

'When are we going to go to the theatre again?'

Bronze Award participant

‘I want to do production arts at college, especially media makeup’

Bronze Award participant