Friday, 6 March 2015

Central is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted for a 2015 Guardian University Award in the category of Student Diversity and Widening Participation.

The Guardian University Awards showcase best practice, achievement and innovation across a range of categories.  Honouring excellence in everything from teaching practice to inspiring facilities, the awards act as a sector benchmark and offer universities a seal of approval for their most outstanding work.

The Student Diversity and Widening Participation Category awards an innovative initiative that has demonstrably helped to increase the number of disadvantaged and non-traditional students entering the university – specifically students from low-income families, those with disabilities or students from under-represented groups, including ethnic minorities.

The School has been recognised for its Performance Making Diploma For Learning Disabled Adults, which was launched in January 2014 in partnership with the learning disabled theatre company Access All Areas.  Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Diploma was initiated in response to the exclusion of learning disabled adults from Higher Education performance-related training courses and from the professional theatre industry itself.  It is an accredited course and focuses on the performer as creator in authoring devised performance, drawing on disability politics, identity and disability aesthetics. 

The course delivery is focused on working collaboratively with the students to support their journeys as performers.  The design of the course was created in consultation with four members (with learning disabilities) of Access all Areas, and annually a core group of six students form the course take on roles as Co-Researchers and Evaluators to ensure that the course is relevant and accessible.  Study and access to the student life of Central is further supported and enabled by a Creative-Partner buddying scheme whereby Diploma students are paired with students from other courses at Central.

The Diploma aims to challenge attitudes that re-enforce the exclusion of learning disabled people from further or higher education, and so attempts to dismantle attitudes that make assumptions about what intelligence is, and how we measure it.  The first cohort of students graduated from the programme in November 2014 and, since completion, have all undertaken professional work including performing with Corali Dance, at Sadler’s Wells on the BBC and in their own touring shows.   

The official awards shortlist was released on Monday 2 March with winders to be announced at a special awards ceremony on Wednesday 18 March.  Further information about the Guardian University Awards can be found on the Guardian Website.

The establishment of the Performance Making Diploma sits right at the heart of Cental's identity and its commitment to maintaining a diverse institution.