Supporting International Day of People with Disabilities

Friday 3 Dec 2021

As we mark International Day of People with Disabilities, our Head of Curriculum for Creative Arts, Sandra Allan, explains how we support and reflect disability in our creative and performing subjects.

We believe that every student should have access to all the creative and performing arts no matter what their disability and we aim to ensure that all our qualifications are accessible to all. They also provide an outlet for expression and creativity that enhances learning, and are good ways to improve confidence and self-esteem. The value of the arts can't be overemphasised!

Dance

In my recent blog in our series looking at equality, diversity and inclusion in our qualifications, I explained that in GCSE Dance, we're the only qualification in dance where it’s compulsory to study dance works from disabled and wheelchair performers. Students for GCSE Dance have to study six works of which one is from Stopgap dance company called ‘Artificial Things’.

For GCSE dance we're also the only awarding organisation to have a full adaptation process. Teachers complete the form and it’s then sent to a senior associate (examiner) to ensure all adaptations related to the disability are appropriate and the student can access the full mark scheme. We receive around 30 requests for these adaptations each year and examples include students with severe disabilities, such as students with walkers and wheelchairs. These are great examples of schools not putting barriers for any students by using our adaptation process.

We also have great examples of GCSE students entering dance with Mary Hare School, a boarding and day school for deaf children in Newbury, Berkshire. The school successfully enter students for GCSE Dance each year and encourage students’ potential.

Art and Design

In GCSE Art and Design we have a fantastic and inspirational, example of a student with severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy who successfully completed our course. Becky Tyler studied and completed our GCSE Art and Design. She’s now 18 and has a place at Dundee University on a course related to the study of the interface between computers and people.

Becky lives life to the full and, like most teenagers, she especially enjoys playing video games and also loves art. Becky uses ‘eye gaze’ to create art and this helps her to maintain the ability to do these things independently, which is important to her.

Becky and her teacher worked with AQA to ensure she was able to access the mark scheme and at 16 Becky achieved a grade 8 in her GCSE Art and Design.

We’re always looking to improve our inclusion and if you would like to discuss this further please contact me at creativearts@aqa.org.uk