National Art and Design Saturday Club at the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds has successfully delivered the National Art & Design Saturday Club in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies since November 2017

The Club is part of a national network created by the Sorrell Foundation and coordinated by the Saturday Club Trust, and gives young people aged 13 to 16 the unique opportunity to study art and design on Saturday mornings at their local university, free of charge.

The aim is to nurture the young people’s talent and build their confidence and self-esteem.

The Club does this by offering young people the opportunity to:

  • Attend over 20 weeks of inspiring classes over the academic year
  • Experience a variety of different disciplines using our specialist facilities, including printmaking, casting, photography, sculpture and history of art
  • Work with a range of academics, artists and University staff
  • Visit different galleries and museums across the region
  • Collaborate with arts organisations including the Yorkshire Sculpture International and Arts Council Collection
  • Attend an inspirational Masterclass with a leading figure from UK industry
  • Exhibit their work in their own Summer Show at Somerset House, London.

Now in its third year, the Club continues to attract a diverse group of participants. This engagement is supported by strong relationships with diverse local schools, such as Carr Manor Community School, who promote the opportunity to their pupils. 54 young people have engaged with the project to date, and active Club membership remains at 20-22 participants per year, our maximum capacity.

Priority is given to young people who live in a geographical area with low progression to higher education, and/or attend a school achieving below the national average at GCSE (Attainment 8 score), in line with our Access to Leeds (A2L) criteria. Last year 72% participants met 1 or more of the A2L criteria. 41% of participants attended a school with below average attainment 8, 32% identified as BAME and 53% came from Q1 and Q2 postcodes.

Impact on young people includes increased passion for the subject, growth in confidence and social skills, helping to improve their schoolwork and increased awareness of future study options and careers. Long-term impact will be tracked through HEAT.

The Saturday Club also allows for sustained engagement with parents and carers. All communication and information about the Club is directed through parents on a weekly basis, and they are invited to two events during the programme. This relationship gives us access to vital qualitative feedback regarding parent perceptions of the impact for their child.

Delivery of the Club is supported by our Student Ambassadors, and provides professional development opportunities in arts engagement, supporting our student success processes:

We look forward to building on these fantastic first three years, and plans include developing Saturday Club alumni activities to bridge the gap between the Club and HE application time.


Sarah Richardson, Saturday Club lead, University of Leeds