Leading it… Our Way

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Finding our voices

Here is a film about our Arts Award journey at Lancasterian School.

“Leading it our Way”

“Leading it our Way” was an exciting initiative, funded through BIG Lottery, which opened up a range of new developments and challenges for DIY Theatre Company. Over a period of three years (2011 – 2013) DIY Friday Group members  ran a total of ten Arts Award projects with young people with learning disabilities aged between 11 and 25 from across Greater Manchester.

The “Leading it…Our Way” programme was all about opening up new opportunities for young people with learning difficulties to:

•Gain an Arts Award

•Gain leadership skills and experiences

•Develop life skills such as communication and decision-making

•Increase confidence, sense of achievement and ambition

•Evidence and celebrate achievements

Across the 3-year programme, the Friday Group planned, co-delivered and evaluated ten Arts Award projects with young people with learning disabilities. 48 young people  achieved a Level 1 qualification (Bronze Arts Award) and 17 achieved a Level 2 (Silver) Arts Award qualification.

DIY’s Friday Group created a guide based on ideas and experiences gathered through the “Leading it Our Way” Programme. The guide is not offered as a “How to…” guide, but rather a way of sharing a few of the ideas and activities which have worked well for us.

You can download a copy of our ‘Leading it… Our Way’ guide as a PDF


Below are some quotations from the partner groups we worked with on this project:

“Thank you very much for your outstanding work with Year 6 in 2012. The children and staff benefitted from the DIY Arts Award project. The teamwork and drama skills we have learned have been rewarding and certainly given the children confidence to express themselves. Your team was very sociable and always happy to be with. We hope to work with you again in the future.”

Class 6 Team Ladywood School

 “Working with this project gave the kids a new empathy for others and they enjoyed doing something new and different.  The drama gave the kids confidence and after it, they realised that not only the able bodied could follow their dreams”.

Cathryne Berry – Teacher New Park School

“To me it’s about learning new things, learning from artists……things I never knew before.  Bronze was easier, and doing Silver has been quite challenging but really good.”

Pam –  member of So Many Words.

“DIY got it right in terms of the level and the delivery. This would have been hard for me to do on my own. Writing isn’t appropriate for everyone in the group – it was good to see evidencing in different ways. Peer review and group work was great.”

Jamie Patterson, Artistic Director of So Many Words.



 I feel more confident to use drama now having seen how it is done. The group now have a better understanding of what leadership means as a result of doing activities that demonstrated leadership in action.

Tim Jones – Teacher at Lancasterian School in Didsbury

Having Jenny and Joan coming in has meant that our young people have learnt to be more sociable. It has made them come together more as a group. We try to do circle time but it is hard to keep them focussed and we’ve never done it for as long as DIY have.

Fay Flatt – Arts Officer for Salford

It was fun being creative and we worked good as teams.

Participant – Irlam and Cadishead Youth Club

I feel having DIY in to deliver the Silver Arts Award has given a wonderful focus to those of our members who have a real passion for pursuing the arts as a profession.  The project has encouraged a lot of what the group already do and enjoy – favourite art forms such as drama, dance, singing, music – but has opened it right up to explore the arts in the contexts of research, performance and how a young person’s practice and commitment can open doors in the professional arts world.

Jamie Patterson – Artistic Director of So Many Words


The relevance of the Arts Award for young people with learning difficulties is explored in the Nasen publication “Special Magazine”. Special Magazine article – Taking The Lead.