Hi my name is Dawn and I manage a short break centre in Darlington for Children with sensory impairment, learning disabilities and physical disabilities. We have a staff team of 13 part time workers and we have 35 children who receive a service from us. Some children come for one day a month and others may come for a whole weekend a month.
The staff team at Harewood Hill Lodge were always creative in the work they did with young people, however they could not see this in themselves.
I was given the opportunity to enable Harewood Hill Lodge to become a creative care home. I wanted this to develop the young people as artists in whatever field they decided and for the staff to develop themselves as arts leaders. By becoming arts leaders they would have a ‘toolkit’ of essential resources to support the children and young people.
All the staff at Harewood Hill Lodge are now Arts Award Advisers and act as mentors and facilitators for the young people, who wish to gain the Discover and Explore level, which are introductory and Entry level 3 qualifications. Two staff have gone on further training to assess the Bronze and Silver award levels (Level 1 and 2 qualifications) which some young people at Harwood Hill Lodge are completing.
The difference has not only been for the children, it has also been with the staff and the profile of the home. The children have had the opportunity to develop creatively and be critical of themselves as artists. They have been able to set themselves challenges, explore the arts and share their achievements and while doing this they have gained a recognised qualification. The staff have also developed their creativity, and along the way been able to confirm the skills they had and learn new ones with the children and young people. It has been exciting watching the children and staff grow as they experience new things and children experiencing things that they might not have been given the opportunity to do if we were not a creative care home. The young people and staff have used the Arts Award as a means for discussion and self-expression to develop confidence and their self-esteem. When the home was last inspected by Ofsted in December 2017 we improved our judgement from them to OUTSTANDING and the report talks about how ‘this has both boosted the children’s self-esteem and brightened up the home’. Taking part has also helped when we have had our independent visitor (reg 44 visitors) they have also seen the good work done by staff and young people and reported about this.
While completing the award it has given the staff and young people the opportunity to work with different artists and arts professionals.
The Arts Award principles are
- To offer learning and qualifications which support individual creative development in a setting
- To place young people at the heart of the Arts Award process
- To increase young people’s experiences and understanding of arts practitioners and cultural organisations
- To embrace new art forms and technologies
- To reach the widest possible range of people
Taking this into consideration the Arts Award appeals to a wide range of children and young people so fits in well with Harewood Hill Lodge, with young people starting with Discover and the possibility of progressing through all five levels of the award. It recognises personal achievement and is designed to be inclusive as long as the children and young people are willing to develop their skills.
The challenges have mainly been around staff and them thinking they are not able to do things and that they are not creative, but, when given the opportunity to do things they have managed it and have learnt from it and have confirmed the skills they have. My top tip would be encouraging staff to believe in themselves especially when they are the ones enabling the young people to complete the work.