From education to employment

Develop creativity and reward achievement with Arts Award

Exploring film-making and animation, getting hands-on in a music studio or discovering what goes on behind-the-scenes at a theatre- these are just a few of the activities that young people can get involved with while working towards an Arts Award. Arts Award’s unique qualifications are open to learners of all abilities and let each young person set their own targets and achieve against their own goals.

To achieve an award, learners set personal challenges in any arts, media or cultural activity, developing knowledge and understanding of their chosen art forms. Arts Award embraces all interests and backgrounds and encourages individual talent, enabling each learner to flourish and gain useful skills for progression to higher-level study and employment.

Since the programme was launched in 2005, over 62,000 young people have achieved an Arts Award and over 19,000 professionals have trained as Arts Award advisers to support them. By developing their creativity, communication and leadership skills, Arts Award supports learners to grow as the artists and arts leaders of the future.

The award, which is run by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England working with 10 regional Bridge organisations, has five levels and is open to young people aged up to 25. Accreditation starts from Entry Level 3 and goes up to Level 3; the highest level is worth 35 UCAS points, and an introductory level is also available.

Arts Award’s flexible framework means it can be run within the curriculum, through enrichment activities or to complement non-arts provision. Offering Arts Award also contributes to achieving Artsmark status, which demonstrates a college or other setting’s commitment to high-quality arts provision.

Many education professionals consider Arts Award to be a valuable way of enriching vocational and academic learning as the programme enables accreditation of existing arts projects and programmes.

“I think it’s brilliant. The young people really enjoy it and are often inspired at the end of the term to go on to do more in the arts,” says Kitty Wallace, media tutor at Varndean College, a sixth form college in Brighton which offers Arts Award through voluntary enrichment activities to complement A-Level study. Arts Award is run by the Arts department through popular weekly sessions that build on the college programme of working with visiting artists, and scheduled visits to arts and cultural venues.

Kate Rounding, a lecturer at Derby College, found that Arts Award could enrich curriculum learning, and ran the programme alongside the BTEC curriculum for four years. Students worked towards Silver Arts Award as part of the course in their first year, giving them the chance to explore creative interests not on the syllabus. The students learned about the music industry through working with a local events venue, and two of the students secured paid work at partner organisations through their Arts Award.

“I really value the extra dimension Arts Award brings, especially the connection to the music industry in Derby. One of our Gold students stage managed and hosted the acoustic stage event – a fantastic achievement”, adds Kate.

Arts Award can also be delivered as support for induction programmes. At Brooksby Melton College, all first year performing arts and media students work towards Bronze Award as part of their induction week, helping them to bond and gain confidence. Arnold Breen, Lecturer in Performing Arts, commented: ‘I’m a real convert to Arts Award. Running Bronze in induction week is good for students socially and gives a useful diagnostic tool at the beginning of the year, as learners have very different levels of experience and skills when they join us.’

Jo Holt, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Doncaster College, found that with Arts Award, young people have the freedom to choose an art form they’re really passionate about. Doncaster College offers Silver Arts Award to young people taking part in the volunteering programme Vol.Success. “We encouraged them to think of themselves as artists. This gave them ownership and they took it all very seriously” says Jo. Arts Award was delivered to a mixed ability group who organised a community event to raise money for a charity. A second group of young people not in education, employment or training, as well as ex-offenders and care leavers took part in drama activities, delivering a performance based on their experiences.

Arts Award can also complement non-arts provision. The charity Roots and Shoots in Lambeth offers qualifications in horticulture and retail to 16 to 19 year olds who have had difficulty in the traditional educational system. Arts Award provides the challenge of completing a creative activity alongside their retail qualification. Ruth Mitchell, Education Coordinator at the charity says “We found Bronze Arts Award gave our learners a creative outlet alongside their retail qualification and developed other skills they need for employment”.

Get started with Arts Award

To get started with Arts Award, at least one member of an organisation needs to attend a one-day adviser training course, available across the country, throughout the year. Alternatively, organisations can book a trainer to deliver the training within their own timeframe, at their own venue. Training can be booked online at

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