Students hold up spray painted artwork

Access and inclusion

Arts Award is designed to be accessible to children and young people with a range of abilities, backgrounds and individual learning requirements because:

  • it measures and supports each individual’s personal progress
  • evidence can be collected in a range of formats, meaning that non-verbal or less confident communicators can be supported to achieve the qualification
  • it can be delivered in enjoyable, ‘non-formal’ formats using a wide range of art forms including digital media and youth culture arts
‘I was interested in Arts Award from its inception, having been an advocate for creative approaches within youth justice settings for some time. It was obvious from the outset that Arts Award was determined to make the qualification accessible to all young people, no matter what their ability or individual circumstances.'
Professor Martin Stephenson, Director of Social Inclusion, Nottingham Trent University

Arts Award nurtures and celebrates hidden creative talents and skills, legitimising young people’s achievements in non-mainstream art forms or artistic practice, often providing first time accreditation for young people who have not yet achieved success in educational settings.

There are no entry requirements and children and young people aged 25 and under can take part in Discover and Explore, and 11-25 year olds can take part in Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Our resource Arts Award levels at a glance offers guidance on what's expected of young people at each level, and can be used to help determine the appropriate level for them.

Why Arts Award can work for your projects
Arts Award is a useful outcome indicator, showing the success of your work with young people, but has also been shown to support wider outcomes such as literacy and numeracy, and for example increasing the likelihood of young people engaging in further education, training or employment, and reducing reoffending.*

A three year Arts Award Impact Study evidenced examples of development of a range of transferrable skills, including organisation, self-motivation in learning, research skills, social and communication (including English language) skills and team working skills.

Applications for grant or trust funding may be strengthened if young people are gaining a qualification, helping you cover the costs of training and moderation.

Running Arts Award with young people with Special Educational Needs
For more information about specific training which focuses on running and delivering Arts Award with young people with learning difficulties and special educational needs then please contact

Check our blog on working with young people with learning difficulties.

Arts Award programme materials
If you or your young people have individual access requirements and require the following materials in braille, audio, large print, unlocked PDF or other formats, please complete the Arts Award accessible materials request form.

We aim to provide unlocked PDF files and large-print digital files within 1 week of receiving your request. It will take a minimum of six weeks to provide materials in hard copy large print, braille or as audio recordings, as these are produced on request so please plan your project accordingly.

Reasonable adjustments by centres
Arts Award centres and advisers should consider the needs and abilities of the young people they are working with at the beginning of their delivery of Arts Award and are encouraged to make adjustments to how young people participate in activities towards their awards, including the collection and recording of evidence in their portfolios, ensuring it reflects their preferred learning style. 

Young people can evidence their work using a range of formats, including photographs, drawings, notes or digitally. Young people with communication needs can be supported through using evidencing, such as dictating to a transcriber, digital evidencing, or through the use of symbol-based writing programmes, mentors or feedback statements.

We are happy to discuss portfolio options for young people with special educational needs and recommend you review our Arts Award at a glance resources for details of the standard expected for each level to help you decide which level is right for the young people you work with.


Arts Award Access & Inclusion statement
Arts Award is continually working to improve access to our qualifications. Here are some areas that we have improved or are committed to making better. If you have in mind a particular area that you think we should prioritise, please get in touch.

  • Advisers can request training resources, toolkits, and some young people’s resources in accessible formats, such as large print, Braille, audio transcription, or accessible PDF documents. Hard copy materials must be requested a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of the date required. Digital formats may be available sooner.
  • Free support sessions are available to all advisers with specific access requirements, to help eliminate any barriers to delivering Arts Award.
  • New Arts Award films will include a subtitled option and we are also exploring BSL interpretation for some of our key videos.
  • Children and young people can evidence their work using a range of formats appropriate to their learning styles or individual requirements, including audio or video recording, annotated photos, signs and symbols (eg Makaton, Signalong, BSL), and scribed responses. See our resource ‘Evidencing Arts Award: Young people with learning difficulties’ for more guidance and ideas.
  • Where young people have used communication techniques in their evidence which need translating (such as Braille, Makaton, British Sign Language or other signed languages, or languages other than English), we require all evidence to be translated/annotated/indexed appropriately if young people's work is requested for moderation.  
  • We are aware that some young people choose to identify themselves as gender neutral or non-binary. If you apply to the Access Fund for a grant, there is an option to select either male, female or non-binary. When entering young people for their Arts Award on the centre portal there are ‘other’ and ‘prefer not to say’ options or this field can be left blank. When booking adviser training, it is currently compulsory to state whether you are male or female. We are working towards providing a non-binary option across all our booking and data collection systems.

If you need any further help or guidance please contact us.

*Source: Art of Engagement – outcomes and impact of the Summer Arts College (SAC) Programme 2007–12, Stephenson, Adams, Tarling, published by Unitas



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