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Creating accessible opportunities and opening doors with digital learning

Written by
UAL Awarding Body
Published date
09 March 2021

The pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times for many learners and teachers alike. As an Awarding Body, we have faced the challenge of adapting our qualifications to ensure they can continue to be delivered and studied despite extensive restrictions. As always, the sole focus of our work has been to create a productive and accessible learning environment for students.

So when we receive positive feedback from centres such as Preston’s College, we can’t help but smile and take a moment to be thankful that our learners continue to find joy in the creative arts, even during this challenging time.

Have a read of the lovely words from Preston’s College below:

“The adaptions UAL have put in place in 2020 have allowed us to continue to be creative and, as us creative folk do, find solutions to keep our passions reaching audiences.

Within our curriculum at Preston’s College, we offer a Foundation Learning course in Performing Arts which is primarily for those with additional learning needs. For these learners, Performing and Production Arts is a motivating vehicle to build confidence and increase communication and problem-solving skills, in addition to their performing and production arts specific skills. 

Each year these learners usually host a Christmas performance, usually for family and friends, but we also invite other local Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools. In the last few years, audiences have been good but there are always some restrictions, such as lack of wheelchair accessible transport, personal care needs of learners preventing them attending or the change in routine for learners – going somewhere new with many different sensory aspects, such as lights and sound. The business of the venue sometimes just doesn’t make it possible.

So, with the restrictions on performing to live audiences this year, we decided to host a Zoom performance. Our Level 1 learners prepared and performed a ‘Christmas Sing and Sign Along’ event to local SEN schools. They worked in advance learning Makaton signs, combined with dance routines and singing, to host a ‘join in’ performance. We had 18 SEN schools across the North West attend, with over 200 students watching and joining in from their classrooms. This size of audience would never have been possible without being online. Our learners would also never have performed so confidently to an audience of 200 people in person, but it seemed that, without the pressure of the audience physically being there, the learners were able to perform to large numbers without detriment to their work. There was definitely still the nervous and energetic ‘buzz’ as we saw people pop up in the waiting room, but seeing faces on screens seemed to help.

The event was hugely successful, to the extent we will continue to work in this way even when restrictions lift. We will obviously continue to work to a live audience where we can, but we will absolutely also continue to offer a ‘live online performance’ so that we can share our work with wider audiences and ultimately making these performances more accessible.

So a big thank you from all of us for being so flexible and enabling us to keep our options open so that we can find these new, and sometimes virtually, improved ways of working.”

Sara Hartigan, Preston’s College

Image credit: Students on the Foundation learning course at Preston's college

If you have any stories of achievement from 2020 and 2021 that you would like to share, whether they are relating to learning or delivering our qualifications, please get in touch at

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