How can creative learning support wider education and transferable skills?

by Jem Rycraft, Enham Trust

Jem Rycraft has worked for Enham Trust, which manages the Skills2Achieve provision, since August 2019.

We all know creative learning can have a big impact on outcomes for young people, both in terms of their wellbeing and their employability and transferable skills, but what works well?

In Focus, a Steering Group member of the SCEP, is working with Skills2Achieve (S2A), an Enham Trust programme which seeks to mitigate the risks of young people becoming or remaining a NEET (not in education, employment, and training) statistic.

In Southampton at the last count there were 178 known NEET young people and 154 young people who at present are unaccounted for. Therefore, the likely number of young people being NEET is at least 332. Of the 178 young people known to be NEET, 4.2% are Looked After Children, 9.3% have an Education Health Care Plan, 20.69% have identified Special Education Needs, 4.6% are attached to youth justice services, and 8.8% are teen parents.

It is against this backdrop that S2A seeks to help and support young people make the transition from adolescence into adulthood. The programme is set up to help young people (16-25) achieve accredited functional skills qualifications in English & Maths, awarded by City & Guilds. Additionally, the young people follow a programme of employability, which aims to support them to identify goals, negotiate targets, and work towards an individualised progression route.

A person with long hair crouches down to take an artistic photo of the rust on a white van

During the S2A programme, In Focus have been delivering weekly workshops with two groups of NEET young people, providing access to professional photographic equipment such as DSLR Cameras, lighting equipment, and professional photographers. The young people have completed digital badges and are doing Arts Awards. They have a creative portfolio of work which includes photographs, collage, montage, and other related visual mediums, as well as creative writing which supports the visual elements of their work.

This has given our young people the opportunity to focus on developing and nurturing creativity and fostering the so-called soft skills and skills of transferability needed in the workplace.

In the three years that S2A has been working with In Focus Education and Development, we have seen an impact in ways which are often difficult to measure. We believe they include developing the following skills:

  • Respect
  • Starting a dialogue
  • Experimenting
  • Finding one’s voice
  • Make connections
  • Self-evaluation
  • Observation
  • Self-expression
  • Valuing aesthetics
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Embracing diversity
  • Envisioning solutions
  • Reflecting on our work
  • Perseverance
  • Having an opinion
  • Breaking away from stereotypes
  • Collaboration
  • See another point of view
  • Listen
  • Create
  • Innovate
  • Appreciate beauty
A group of five young people are stood outside. One of them is jumping and throwing a red object in the air, while the other four are holding digital cameras and taking photos of the object.

The partnership with In Focus Education and Development has enabled a number of young people to complete their programme with us and achieve additional qualifications such as Explore and Bronze Arts Awards (which are on the regulated qualifications framework) and Digital Badges, which can be used by both the student and potential employers to identify transferable skills for the workplace as they link to the government’s Indeed website for employment.

To find out more about Skills2Achieve contact the Enham Trust.

To find out more about photography-based learning and development contact