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Supporting Improved Learning Opportunities for Hard-to-Reach Adults (SILO)

Supporting Improved Learning Opportunities for Hard-to-Reach Adults (SILO) was a cross-European project that aimed to create a pedagogical framework through which artists and creative practitioners could validate adult employability competences gained from participatory arts.

Supported by the Erasmus Plus funding programme (under the Vocational Education and Training scheme), the SILO partnership was led by Safe Regeneration, a community organisation based in Bootle, who were interested in how participatory arts programmes can lead to the development of adult employability skills. Safe Regeneration were supported in exploring this notion, and the development of a framework for evidencing adult skills and employability competencies, by ABD (Barcelona, Spain), IASIS (Athens, Greece), EST (Wadowice, Poland), and To Preserve the Woman (Varna, Bulgaria). As the commissioned SILO research partner, Sue Potts considered the issue of validation in a baseline evidence review, a consultation with over 75 artists across partner countries, the evaluation of 5 ‘test’ participatory arts projects, the results of 10 multiplier events, and an expert Delphi panel exercise.

The project resulted in a new toolkit for validating the skills that can be gained by adults through participatory arts. This toolkit maps employability skills to the European Lifelong Learning Framework and was developed in collaboration with artists and creative practitioners. The ‘tests’ demonstrated a realistic feasibility of using this framework within participatory arts programmes, should participants wish to demonstrate the development of employability skills. Artists involved in a wide-scale consultation agreed that the toolkit was applicable and usable for their work. Sue’s recommendations include the use of ‘training the trainer’ programmes, which would assist artists to embed this toolkit within their practice; and also the development of competency ‘levels’, which would demonstrate more clearly the abilities of adults who are seemingly the furthest away from the employment market.

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