ACES Cool Wall
The Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) project, a widening participation initiative delivered via funding by the Scottish Funding Council, aims to encourage university applications from pupils who are often under-represented in art, design and architecture courses.
Run in partnership with local schools in Aberdeen city’s regeneration communities, the programme engages senior phase pupils from deprivation areas and low progression schools in a series of weekly, subject focused learning opportunities on campus.
Over the course of the programme, participating pupils demonstrate their talent and commitment through their engagement in a range of creative projects. With the support of academic tutors, the participants are encouraged to develop new skills and explore their creative potential. Participants also benefit from meeting and working with current students of the university and receive pastoral support from the Study Skills & Access Unit.
The project has seen success in increasing participants’ aspiration to engage in higher education and improving their capacity to secure an offer to study at RGU. 65% of the 2014-15 ACES cohort made applications to undergraduate programmes at either Gray’s School of Art or Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment and 69% of those applicants have now accepted their offers.
The “class” last week was held at the Aberdeen Art gallery where the pupils viewed the collection and then in groups led by a university tutor discussed the themes and content of what they had just seen. Once they had come to a consensus each group placed a selection of artworks from the gallery on a Top Gear style “Cool Wall”.
This informal and engaged style of learning is typical of the ACES programme, with much of the learning happening outside normal classroom settings and structures usually experienced by the pupils.