Chickenshed Theatre was the first centre to teach inclusive performing arts. Our first educational course started in 1995 and our success rate has been phenomenal. Every year over 150 young people study on our programmes some of whom might not otherwise have the opportunity to study and yet 90% will earn a national qualification, which will help to open doors to future employment.
We run three nationally accredited courses, a BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts, equivalent to three A-levels, a Foundation Degree in Inclusive Performance which is a qualification in its own right and is also a pathway to a full BA (Hons) degree.
Our students work alongside our professional staff and learn our methods actively, through participation in music, drama and dance and have the unique opportunity to both study and perform in a professional working theatre. Our students are integral to Chickenshed’s everyday life. They take part in our annual Christmas production, both by performing and also in back-stage production roles. They are involved in various shows throughout the year and have opportunities to perform in exciting venues such as London’s Hard Rock Cafe, the V&A Museum and ITV Studios. At the end of their course the students will devise, develop and perform a short run of their final presentation at Chickenshed.
We firmly believe that everyone should be able to access further education and we know that the performing arts – if delivered in a positive and inclusive environment – can help people to overcome many barriers. We work with young people from all social and economic backgrounds and abilities – bringing them together to study creatively, alongside each other. Gaining skills and qualifications enable young people to take the next step to further education, training and employment.
Many education establishments claim to be ‘inclusive’ but at Chickenshed, we really mean including ‘everyone’. Some who study with us have never achieved formal qualifications before, while others are academically gifted. It is this mix that we believe benefits everyone.
We know that it isn’t qualifications alone that makes a person ‘employable’ – but we understand their importance. Qualifications help young people to find further training and work and enables them to reach their full potential as productive and valued members of society. However, it is also the ‘experience’ of working in a genuinely inclusive environment – replacing past education failure and frustration with positivity and success – which helps individuals take those ground breaking steps forward to achieve successful careers.
Our tried and tested approach makes it possible for everyone to learn, create and contribute together. We open doors to those who may have been seen as having learning challenges, but who, with the right support, have been able to achieve a BA degree. Young people who have struggled throughout school or left with no GCSEs are now active and contributing members of society.
Information about our education course can be found at www.chickenshed.org.uk