Victoria Education Centre
Arts Award Good Practice Centre 2015-16
Victoria Education Centre is a school for students aged 3-19 with disabilities. They have been offering Arts Award for eight years, and so far 100 students have achieved awards. The school offers Arts Award in a number of art forms, including performing and visual arts, creative writing and literature and media.
Students experience a variety of art forms from the moment they enter the school. Arts Award Discover is offered at Key Stage 2, and students start Arts Award Explore in Key Stage 3. At Key Stage 4, Arts Award Explore and the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards are offered to students, dependant on ability.
The school has a variety of student abilities and learning needs that means advisers adapt their approach to suit each individual and group. This allows all students to access different art forms and levels of Arts Award. Arts Award projects are often linked to the school’s thematic curriculum to drive new experiences and art forms. Advisers also explore students’ suggestions where possible. Victoria Education Centre’s school motto is Achieving Through Believing – and they use the arts as a vehicle for realising this.
A recent cross art form Bronze Award project focused on Harry Potter. For Part A (explore the arts as a participant), one group of students designed and painted scenery and wrote and performed a short scene. Another group created models, a soundtrack and a stop-motion animation.
For Part B (explore the arts as an audience member) the whole group visited Harry Potter studio tours and then created a radio show and film to share based on their experience.
All students chose someone connected to the Harry Potter films, whether a performer or a member of the technical crew for Part C (arts inspiration). Each student researched and presented a Powerpoint or radio show to the other students.
To fulfil the criteria for Part D (arts skills share), students shared one of the skills they had learnt during their Arts Award journey with other students in the school.
Students recorded a range of evidence for paper-based portfolios, including annotated photographs, CDs of radio shows, DVDs of arts activities and visits, copies of presentations and feedback sheets. Students also used Artsbox for collecting photos and film of the Part A skills development process. Artsbox was especially helpful for a Silver Award student who attended an outside course to extend her skills.
Victoria Education Centre has found feedback from Arts Award moderation very helpful in suggesting different ways of developing their practice. Although due to time and other restrictions they may not always be able to implement all the suggestions, they have found moderators’ input useful for looking at ways to adapt their delivery.
Students visit The Mayflower Theatre and The Lighthouse Arts Centre as part of the Victoria Education Centre Arts Award programme, and have collaborated on a project with English Touring Opera. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are also interested in working with the school in the coming year. These organisations offer understanding and art form expertise that students really respond to.
In future, the school plans to continue promoting the arts to students through Arts Award, and to start delivery of Gold to offer progression to students who are able to work at Level 3. They would also like to engage more students in the Silver Award.
Arts Award is a huge confidence boost to students, allowing them to express themselves in a variety of ways. Many students have been inspired to try different art forms. Older students often lead the younger students in skills sharing workshops and this creates a link between the age groups. Working with professional artists and other schools offers the opportunity to integrate beyond the school in a shared experience. Year on year Victoria Education Centre have built on the numbers of students accessing the awards.
One particular student, as part of his Silver Arts Award, was encouraged to join The Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra. This gave him the confidence to pursue his passion. He has since attended GCSE Music lessons at a mainstream school and now has a place at Poole and Bournemouth College to study Music. Alongside this, the student will be coming back to Victoria Education Centre to work towards his Gold Arts Award and hopes to become a musician in the future.
Belinda Ellicott, lead Arts Award adviser at Victoria Education Centre, describes the highlight of being an Arts Award adviser as: ‘Seeing the students’ faces when we see a show or go somewhere that they have never experienced, and also seeing the work that they achieve. The English Touring Opera project was particularly special as opera was an art form that a lot of people within the school were not sure would work, but all the students responded brilliantly. Plus working with another school created a really special atmosphere. The feedback was fantastic from everyone.’
‘I wanted to share my love of arts and what they can offer to students, and Arts Award allows you to do this. It is a qualification that is accessible and adaptable so anyone can take part and develop their understanding, skills and enjoyment of all the arts.’
‘The arts are at the heart of the learning and ethos of Victoria Education Centre. There is not a student who is untouched by the wonderfully holistic approach the college takes to the arts. Music, dance, drama, visual art and digital media (there is even an in-house radio station) all contribute to the vibrant artistic life of VEC. As an arts organisation, the college is an extraordinary organisation with which to collaborate, nurturing as they do individuals and supporting their needs, as well as creating the perfect environment in which the strongest work can be made.’
‘Creativity is at the heart of everything the school and its students achieve. Arts Award enables the whole school community to take part in and experience a wide range of arts opportunities. The students build skills, interests and develop confidence through taking part, sharing their work and leading activities. The fact that their achievements are nationally recognised and lead to a qualification is incredibly motivating and rewarding for them. The programme supports and drives the importance that creativity offers students at all levels.’
‘The Arts Award programme has been marvellous. I have watched my son grow in confidence and gain essential skills for future life. He really enjoyed all aspects of the programme and felt a real sense of achievement on gaining his Silver Arts Award. He is currently looking at the Gold Arts Award and all the interesting and rewarding topics to cover in that.’
‘Doing Arts Award has cured my fear of stage fright. I can now just go on stage and do things without having a major freak out. I get on better with the staff as a result of the whole thing, without it I don’t know where I would be. For the other students, one of them never did acting before and now he loves acting. It has opened people’s eyes to different things so instead of being in their own bubble they are aware of new opportunities.’
‘The Arts Award programme provides a fantastic range of opportunities for students of all levels to explore personal creativity through specialist led sessions in Dance, Drama, Music and Media Technology. I have seen the high levels of participation and enjoyment experienced by the students. These activities build confidence and self esteem as well as developing valuable communication skills and this is clearly evident in the high quality and range of school productions. The opportunities provided for external trips and for visits into school by professional artists also greatly enhance the experiences of the students and this encourages them to gain qualifications and awards that are nationally recognised.’