How Cultural Education can help SEND students

If we want equity baked into our education system, ensuring children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) thrive is a vital goal.

The former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told The Times Education Commission in 2022 that “The talents of hundreds of thousands of children are being squandered”, including those of children with SEND.

Cultural Education provides an inspiring and engaging way to support students with SEND to access a mainstream curriculum and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Promising results for SEND students

Our Better Lives Through Culture project, which worked with four schools across Southampton in 2023, found using the arts enabled:

  • Primary SEND students to demonstrate their knowledge and fully take part in lessons
  • Secondary students in Alternative Provision to build confidence, communication and teamwork skills while engaging in school work

Support for children with SEND

For children with SEND the current school wide issues of poor student mental health and attendance are severe.

In the Pearson 2023 School Report, teachers reported that support for students with SEND is expected to be one of the biggest barriers to learning over the next six months. Delays to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), and lack of funding for specialist support are reported by schools across the region.

Using dance to demonstrate knowledge

One way to support students with SEND is to use arts and culture across the curriculum. Working with Banister Primary School, movement specialist Natalie Watson used dance to deliver parts of the Geography and Science curriculum.

When studying Butterflies in Science in Year 2, rather than asking children to create a mind map of what they knew about butterflies Natalie asked the children to move and behave like butterflies. This allowed students with SEND to express their knowledge and have it recorded by the teacher. Using dance increased access to lessons for children with SEND and lower achieving children in Key Stage 1.

Increasing engagement with complex vocabulary

Teachers also noticed that using dance helped lower attaining children engage better with more complex vocabulary. Pupils were able to retain and retrieve the words.

In Geography, children could show the different ways rivers moved and could recall geography vocabulary such as meandering to describe rivers. Classifying animals in science was also more engaging for the children using movement.

Natalie and the school worked together to refine their approach to using Dance. This was then rolled out across Geography at Key Stage 2 and Science in Reception and Key Stage 1 with supporting resources and a lesson plan. INSET training was provided to model how to use the resources with the classes.

Engaging students in Cantell’s Learning to Learn Hub

At Cantell School, SoCo Music Project worked with students within the school’s Learning to Learn Hub. Some students wrote song lyrics linked to their English text as part of their Key Stage 4 English Curriculum.

Attendance and engagement are key outcomes needed for the students in the Learning to Learn hub. The students who worked with SoCo’s artist Craig engaged in the project with Craig tailoring activities to the students each week.

Their teacher remarked the approach was very well suited to the learning to learn model. The students responded differently to an artist and respected their expertise. After building trust the students engaged in independent work writing lyrics and worked as a team performing on the drums together.

Working with artists is CPD for teachers

Teachers across all of the Better Lives Through Culture projects reflected that working with artists was a form of CPD for them. They learnt new ways to work and communicate with their students.

For teachers looking for strategies on how to support SEND students within their classrooms cultural learning offers important tools and approaches.

Southampton Cultural Education Partnership (SCEP) members have expertise in working with students with SEND and crafting arts-based interventions.

Join the SCEP to learn more and connect with arts colleagues who can help you support students with SEND.


NEWSFLASH!! After a busy summer and a competitive tendering process we have successful recruited SCEP member SoCo to run the Creative Mentoring Scheme. We recognise a lot of the SCEP organisations have also had a busy summer with full programmes and annual leave over the holiday season. With this in mind we are extending the deadline for applications to the Creative Mentoring programme. The nominating organisation simply needs to complete a few questions on the form. This is a paid CPD opportunity for an early Career Creatives not to be missed.

  • Timescale: October 2022 – March 2023
  • Fee: ÂŁ4,500.00 per mentor
  • Application Deadline: 4 October 5PM
  • Interview Dates:  12/13 October in Southampton

This opportunity is part of Southampton Cultural Education Partnership’s (SCEP) Better Lives Through Culture Programme, in partnership with Artswork.

This is a paid training opportunity open to early career creatives in Southampton to develop mentoring skills and provide 1-2-1 support to young people aged 11 – 18 years.  Successful candidates will be trained as Creative Mentors, developing their mentoring skills, knowledge and experience. Throughout the programme they will be supported to mentor a Southampton-based young person to achieve their goals.

The SCEP’s objective is to develop a cohort of Creative Mentors as local role models in Southampton, who will work directly with and inspire Children and Young People, including those from at risk, marginalised backgrounds or NEET (not in employment education or training).

What being a Creative Mentor involves

Six early career creatives will be trained as Creative Mentors, and mentor a young person over a six-month scheme, guiding them to gain confidence, connections and the advice they need to succeed in their chosen goal/subject/industry. With the support of a Creative Mentor Trainer, mentoring pairs will decide on each young person’s individual goals and work towards achieving them.

Each Mentoring pair will meet over an agreed number of sessions.

What is a Nominating Organisation and how will they support the Creative Mentor

The nominating organisation (person) is a cultural organisation that has a relationship with the early career creative. They simply need to fill in a few sections on a form to complete the application. This will take the nominating organisation 10 -15 minutes.

It is expected that mentoring meetings will be face to face at the nominating organisation, however some remote meetings may be necessary during the course of the programme, as well as email communication between sessions.

Early Career Creatives

This opportunity is open to early career creatives* who would benefit from this training opportunity to develop and grow their skills, knowledge and experience to support a diverse range of young people with their own creative aspirations.

*By early career creative, this means anyone who is at an early stage in their professional creative career. This includes recent school leavers or people who have recently made a career change into the cultural sector/creative industries.


A fee of ÂŁ4,500.00 based on completing 42 days is available for each Creative Mentor.

As part of the Creative Mentoring Training scheme, participants will develop the skills and tools to be an effective mentor and will:

  • work with a trainer to develop their mentoring practice through small group training sessions.
  • Work with and support a young person to develop their own goals over an agreed number of sessions.
  • gain direct experience and transferable skills including coaching, safeguarding and structuring mentoring sessions.

Person Specification


  • An early career creative from any art form; including but not limited to visual arts, music, performing arts, written and spoken word, dance, film making and design.
  • Southampton based;
  • Experience of working with young people;
  • Good at problem solving and/or talking through issues;
  • Reliable and committed;
  • A good communicator;
  • Able to provide insight from your personal experience;
  • Willing to undertake a DBS Enhanced check.


  • Experience of supporting another person to develop personal goals. (You will be given training to do this);
  • Experience of working with vulnerable young people.

Timeline for Creative Mentor Scheme

Shortlisting for mentors from 5 October 2022

Interviewing of mentors 12/13 October 2022

Confirmation of outcomes of interviews for Mentors w/c 3 October 2022

Creative Mentor training and programme begins October 2022 – March 2023

Celebration event for Mentors and Mentees April 2023

Nomination Criteria:

  • Nominating cultural organisations must be SCEP members or willing to join the SCEP*
  • Candidates should self-define as early career creatives and have a connection to their nominating  organisation e.g. artist, freelancer, staff member, participant.
  • Nominating cultural organisations must provide a reference for their candidate, please see the section on the form marked ‘Questions for Nominating Organisation’.

* To join the SCEP you must be a Southampton-based cultural and/or educational organisation. For more information email

How to apply:

  • CANDIDATE:  Please complete the online form
  • NOMINATING ORGANISATIONS: Please complete the section on this form marked nominating organisation. Or email a word document answering the ‘Questions for Nominating Organisation’  as detailed in the online form to stating the name of the candidate at the beginning of the document.
  • DEADLINE: Submit the online application form (And Word document if applicable) by Tuesday 4 October 2022, 5pm
  • INTERVIEWS: To take place in 12/13 October in Southampton

Access Support & General Enquiries

We want to ensure the application process is accessible, and to give everyone the information they need to decide whether they might be suitable. If you require this description or any further information in a different format, or have questions before you apply, please get in touch with Jodie Sadler, Programme Manager, Better Lives Through Culture: please provide a contact telephone number. Please note that queries may not be answered immediately due to the working hours of the team.

We’re especially keen to hear from people who may have shared experience with our mentees, such as people who are Black, Asian or from a minoritised ethnic group, LGTBQIA+ people, disabled people and those who have identified as working class.

Cultural Curriculum: Schools & Education Settings Expression of Interest

Part of Better Lives Through Culture Programme, in partnership with Artswork

Artwork made by a young person in a workshop with artist Nazneen Ahmed

From September 2022, Southampton Cultural Education Partnership is piloting a Cultural Curriculum for Southampton.

Teachers and student will work together with creative practitioners to co-design and create a Cultural Curriculum for Southampton, that supports delivery of Cultural Capital and aligns with Southampton City Council’s Future Work framework which prioritises levelling up, skills development and social capital.

Continue reading Cultural Curriculum: Schools & Education Settings Expression of Interest

New appointments to deliver SCEP Better Lives Through Culture programme

New SCEP team members: Jodie Sadler on the left is a white woman with red hair and Frankie McCormick on the right has brown hair and glasses. They are both smiling and standing in front on photograph of children playing musical instruments.
Jodie Sadler, Programme Manager (left) and Frankie McCormick, Creative Programmer (right) join the SCEP team

We are excited to announce two new appointments to Southampton Cultural Education Partnership (SCEP) team. Jodie Sadler as Programme Manager and Frankie McCormick as Creative Programmer will deliver our ambitious Better Lives Through Culture programme.

Our Better Lives Through Culture (BLTC) programme, in partnership with Artswork, will be a step-change for the Southampton Cultural Education Partnership (SCEP). With Southampton accepted onto the UNICEF Child Friendly programme, and the Southampton UK City of Culture 2025 Bid uniting communities, this really is our time. 

Together, Jodie and Frankie will drive the BLTC programme forward, enabling the SCEP to galvanise cross-sector expertise to ensure children and young people that are at risk, disadvantaged, marginalised, not in education, employment or training (NEET) benefit from cultural education.

Children and young people will co-design and create a Creative Curriculum for Southampton, in collaboration with practitioners and teachers, and in alignment with Southampton City Council’s Future Work framework which prioritises levelling up, skills development and social capital. The work will harness Youth Voice and the ingenuity of the city’s communities, insights and practice, to root and feed creative connections to place.

Creative Mentoring activity will build strategic capabilities in Southampton for emerging creatives and artists, organisations, children and young people along with Arts Award delivery, Digital Badging and Artsmark Partnerships. 

Louise Coysh, Interim Lead, Southampton Cultural Education Partnership and Associate Director, Arts & Culture at University of Southampton, said:  “We are thrilled to welcome Jodie and Frankie to the team and our growing SCEP community. They each bring a wealth of experience and expertise, that will ensure Better Lives Through Culture positively impacts the lives of children in Southampton. This is an exciting moment for our City, with Southampton’s shared ambitions for children and young people clearly stated in the UNICEF Child Friendly City commitment and UK City of Culture 2025 Bid.”

Frankie, McCormick, Creative Programmer, said: “I am incredibly excited to be joining the SCEP as Creative Programmer. Having recently moved to Southampton, I have been hit by its vibrancy and feel so fortunate play a part in supporting the next generation of creative leaders to continue the legacy of this wonderful city.”

Jodie Sadler, Programme Manager, said: “Southampton has a broad and rich cultural offering, I am energised to work on with the Southampton Cultural Education Partnership to further the access to this wealth of creativity and support the next generation of creatives to see what is possible when it comes to creative futures.”

Jodie and Frankie will begin their roles in June and look forward to meeting and working our SCEP members, stakeholders, partners and most importantly children and young people over the coming months.

Frankie McCormick has recently moved to Southampton from Liverpool, where she has managed multiple large scale arts programmes with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, ranging from higher education partnerships to Music and Mental Health programmes in partnership with NHS trusts. Frankie has spent the past three years managing Liverpool’s biggest musical talent development programme, Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, and has worked with communities from across Liverpool to give young musicians world-class opportunities for music making. Frankie is a clarinetist and composer specialising in Klezmer and Balkan music, and has worked with highly acclaimed ensembles from symphony orchestras and choirs to community focused chamber groups.

Jodie Sadler joins us from working at a local authority in Wokingham where she developed a Cultural Strategy as Arts and Culture Development Officer. Previously she has worked as a Senior Project Manager for a multi-disciplinary national arts charity supporting vulnerable groups access the arts to improve confidence, teamwork, artistic skills, reduce isolation and enhance well-being. Jodie has worked within the community outreach and education departments of Dulwich Picture Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery. Before this Jodie set up a creative programme whilst working as an administrator in a mental ill health hostel in Westminster, where she worked with residents to co-design an arts showcase called Challenging Stigmas. Jodie studied Fine Art Sculpture at Loughborough University.

SCEP SPOLIGHT: News from the University of Southampton’s Connecting Culture project

A student at Mount Pleasant Junior School in Bevois, Southampton, with their Arts Award Discover certificate 

Today we are spotlighting the Connecting Culture research project, led by the Arts and Culture team at University of Southampton and supported by Arts Council England. The project has recently reached the end of its ambitious ‘Creative Consultation’ programme of artist-led creative workshops held with children and young people in Southampton. With children at the heart, the research explores the question of how Southampton’s thriving Cultural Quarter can enrich their lives as a future creative hub.  

A total of 25 workshops took place at 15 schools and youth settings across the city, with around 600 of Southampton’s young people taking part. All participants earned themselves an Arts Award Discover certificate for their efforts and, at a special presentation at Mount Pleasant Junior School, certificates were awarded to around 70 of their year 6 students.

Continue reading SCEP SPOLIGHT: News from the University of Southampton’s Connecting Culture project