#MyArtsAward: Arts Award for the whole child, by Hazel Stewart

06 February 2018

#MyArtsAward: Arts Award for the whole child, by Hazel Stewart

On the second day of our Arts Award Celebration Week, Hazel Stewart, Learning Manager at Education Northumberland EOTAS (Other Than At School) service, explains how she, as an Arts Award Good Practice Mentor, sees the holistic benefits of Arts Award.

The EOTAS service in Northumberland provides education for a range of students who have medical or mental health needs which mean they are unable to attend school. When young people are unable to attend school they miss out on all the clubs and additional activities school would otherwise offer. The Arts Award goes some way to make up for this.  As part of the curriculum offer, Arts Award is an option for our young people, and is taught across a range of small groups as well as sometimes in one to one situations, depending on the needs of the students.

Many of our students have had their confidence dented by the circumstances they find themselves in, so visits and work with other adults increases their confidence and supports them to function fully in their world. The Arts Award is a perfect vehicle to build confidence and self esteem and give a sense of ownership to the project. The creativity within Arts Award can be a powerful tool for self expression, and liberating for the student.

As a service we began to offer Arts Award at Bronze and Silver level in 2009 when the first of our teachers became qualified Arts Advisers. Over the years we've offered a range of projects, including film making, stop-motion animation, performance poetry, printing, fine art, creative writing, script writing, and working in 3D.

In 2014 we gained ‘Good Practice Centre’ status and in the following year the mentoring role for other ‘Good Practice Centres’. We offer Bronze and Silver Awards, but are also qualified to deliver Discover, Explore, and Gold Awards. 

We've offered many projects over the years, with no two years being the same. Projects have been multi-media – including writing a fairytale, creating a play script, photography, illustration, publishing a book, and making a film about our changing environment. 

We always strive to include local artists to provide stimulus and additional expertise for the project, and this year a group of students have been to a creative writing workshop at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle. A further group of students will undertake an arts research workshop at the Baltic in Gateshead.

Seeing students who have suffered terribly with anxiety presenting their skills by delivering a workshop to parents and friends is quite a moving experience. Watching young people grow in confidence in their own ability feeds into other areas of the curriculum.

Our students have been motivated by having a tangible goal and the ability to choose to work in the type of art they feel passionate about. The life skills of planning, organising, and communicating ideas have all been involved in the Arts Award process and have been invaluable to ensure students gain the most they can from their education.

We are justly proud of our students and what they have achieved, despite their difficulties, and this year will be presenting young people ‘s work for Bronze and Silver moderation. We hope to continue to expand our Arts Award provision into the future.