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Wednesday 10 February 2021

University art club inspires Chorley pupil to fulfil GCSE ambition

Mum praises inclusive UCLan Saturday Club

A Chorley mum has praised an arts initiative run by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) for helping her son achieve a GCSE qualification.

Jonathan Shuck, who has special educational needs (SEN) and requires one to one support, was one of 30 local youngsters to take part in the latest UCLan Art and Design Saturday Club, a free weekly art class for local 13-16 year-olds to develop their skills.

The 16-year-old from Whittle-Le-Woods joined the programme after his teacher at Astley Park, a school that caters specifically for SEN pupils, suggested it. Spurred on by the weekly class Jonathan then signed up to study for a GCSE in art at nearby Holy Cross Catholic High School and achieved a Level 4, making him the only Astley Park pupil to be awarded a GCSE this year.

Jonathan’s mum Catherine said: “Jonathan has always been good at art and finds it soothing and calming. Before attending UCLan’s Saturday Club he was entirely self-taught and used to follow YouTube video tutorials, so this opportunity allowed him to take his interests further.

“He loved going each week. I could tell how absorbed Jonathan was and it was a real confidence boost for him to be in a University environment with such great facilities. We’re very proud of Jonathan and what he’s achieved.”

"He loved going each week. I could tell how absorbed Jonathan was and it was a real confidence boost for him to be in a University environment with such great facilities. We’re very proud of Jonathan and what he’s achieved."

Jonathan’s mum Catherine

Jonathan said: “I really liked all the drawing and painting and stuff and loved getting messy there.”

The UCLan Art and Design Saturday Club has been running since 2018 and is one of only two free clubs of its kind in Lancashire. The Club is part of the National Saturday Club initiative, which was established 11 years ago to give young teenagers a taste of what it would be like to study art after leaving school. So far, more than 100 young artists have taken part in the weekly club at UCLan, which runs in term-time blocks.

Andrew McDonald, a senior lecturer in 3D Media Fine Art, leads the sessions. He said: “Saturday Club has been a tremendous hit with the local community. Our participants really put in the effort to learn and get a lot out of it. We run it like a mini art school and the young people have a go at drawing, painting, ceramics and sculpting, amongst other things.

"Jonathan is an immensely talented artist; his work is bold and uninhibited. Saturday Club gave him a structure, the materials and space to explore his talents. It’s fantastic to see him go on to achieve his GCSE in art and I hope he continues to develop his skills."

Andrew McDonald, a senior lecturer in 3D Media Fine Art who leads the sessions.

“Every cohort has participants from a variety of backgrounds and they all learn from each other. Jonathan is an immensely talented artist; his work is bold and uninhibited. Saturday Club gave him a structure, the materials and space to explore his talents. It’s fantastic to see him go on to achieve his GCSE in art and I hope he continues to develop his skills.”

Jonathan has now enrolled at Cardinal Newman College to do a foundation course in life skills and, once teaching is back in the classroom, he’s hoping to also complete some BTEC art modules.

The UCLan Art and Design Saturday Club is currently running online because of Covid-19 restrictions. People who want to sign up for next term or find out more can visit the Saturday Club website.

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