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Being a Boy

Being a Boy

At AUB, we believe that opportunities to engage with creative subjects and explore new art forms should be available to everyone. We also recognise the power of creativity as a tool to engage in conversations about important issues that affect our lives.

The Being a Boy project, launched in 2022, is a brand-new initiative which provides space for young men to creatively engage with the role of masculinity in their day-to-day lives.

The project has received recognition in the sector as an example of best practice. Winning the HELOA (Higher Education Liaison Officers Association) Best Practice Outreach and Recruitment Award, and HELOA Best Practice Collaboration Award in January 2023. Read more about the HELOA Award wins. Being a Boy was also a Silver Award Winner for Best Widening Participation Initiative at the 2023 HEIST Awards. Read more about AUB’s HEIST Award wins in July 2023.

The Being a Boy project

The Being a Boy project provides a number of fully funded places on selected workshops that explore the themes of masculinity and identity. They provide a creative channel for participants to reflect on what being a young man means and their own lived experiences. The workshops are an innovative mechanism to conduct an exploration of the possible implications for boys’ future health, happiness and educational success.

The 2024 workshop series will be released in February 2024 at the Being a Boy 2023 celebration event (details to be confirmed).

The Being a Boy workshop places are available to young people living permanently in England. To be eligible for participation in one or more of the workshops, attendees must be studying in either KS3 or KS4 (aged 12-16) and identify as boys.

Participants must also meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Received Free School Meals at any point during your school studies
  • Been in local authority care or looked after for three months or more OR are estranged from your family
  • Are a Young Carer
  • From a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman, or Boater community
  • Have a parent who has served, or is currently serving, in the armed forces
  • Are currently studying at an Alternative Provision
  • Current home postcode shows that you live in an area with low levels of progression to Higher Education. (Postcodes within the lowest two POLAR4 quintiles)
  • Current home postcode shows that you live in an area that falls within the lowest 20% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

Please check your eligibility for the POLAR4 measure (Postcodes in the lowest two POLAR4 quintiles qualify) and eligibility for the IMD measure (Postcodes in the lowest two deciles qualify).

Being a Boy videos

Watch our How to Be a Boy documentary to see participants of the Empower workshop creative writing successes. Meanwhile, Beneath the Surface shows a participant's continued exploration of dance after taking part in Lift Off workshop.

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2024 Workshop series

We'll be running various workshops from May to July 2024. Full details regarding these will be released in February at the Being a Boy 2023 celebration event.

Previous workshops and events

Read through our previous workshops and events to get a feel for what we've been up to.

This workshop introduced participants to the skateboard as a canvas for exciting graphic statements, integrating illustration with movement and risk.

Back for a second year, focusing on key elements of contemporary dance: physicality, strength, trust and working collaboratively to create adaptable artists.

Back for a second year, participants explored photography as a new platform to tell their stories.

Based at AUB’s Palace Court Theatre, this workshop led by Dan Boyden, an experienced theatre maker and social development expert who's worked in a variety of criminal justice and community settings throughout the UK, working with men to explore new and alternative ways of ‘being a man’.

A Fashion Branding and Communication workshop introducing participants to new ways of seeing, reflection on their own tastes, and new recipes for self-expression.

Back for a second year, author Ashley Hickson-Lovence returned to guide participants through an exploration of written and spoken word.

In celebration of Being a Boy participants, the How to be a Boy documentary premiered at Pavilion Dance South West, following the young men as they participated in the Empower 2022 creative writing workshop.

Also celebrated at the event was successes and experiences the boys that participated in the Capture and Lift Off workshops including poetry readings and showing of Beneath the Surface.

Hosted in partnership with University of Portsmouth and University of Winchester, the widening participation research and practice conference explored how we can better support working-class boys’ educational attainment and progression to Higher Education.

The one-day conference at AUB, brought together practitioners and researchers from 55 institutions and provided a space to disseminate research and learn from evidence-based practice. The conference included esteemed speakers Professor Nicola Ingram, Taking Boys Seriously, and Future Men.

Participants explored a range of different themes working towards creating a final piece that explores the challenges of Being a Boy in the post-pandemic world.

This workshop had a strong focus on key elements of contemporary dance: physicality, strength, trust and working collaboratively to create adaptable artists.

BBC Radio Solent covered the Being a Boy Lift Off Workshop, which included interviews with two of the participants.

Working in the Commercial Photography studios participants created a series of photographs, exploring past, present and future selves.

Claire Barnett, art and photography teacher at The Quay School said, “Ideas were ignited, and quality work was produced as a result of purposeful and thought-provoking activities.”

Led by experienced facilitator and author of the 392 and Your Show, Ashley Hickson-Lovence. The workshop explored what it means to be a boy, through confident, bold and thought-provoking written and spoken poetry and lyrics.

Irene Smith, CIAG Lead at Iford Academy said, “What an amazing day when confidence was grown in abundance!"

This three-hour workshop looked at methods and storytelling devices involved in the development of documentary projects, including the How to Be a Boy Documentary. The exploration encouraged the group to explore distinctive voices in the making of documentaries, which are shaped by our own personal experiences but that can also reflect the forces that shape the world we live in.

Explore more


We know that inspiring your students, whatever their ambition, is at the heart of what we do in creative education.
Illustration work displayed in the Drawing Studio at AUB. The work is surrounded by plants and lit but a large oval glass window

On-campus activities

We run a range of on-campus activities so that your students can experience life at an arts university first-hand.
Student talking to a member of AUB Staff at a UCAS Event

In-school activities

Our in-school activities have been designed to support your students in discovering more about Higher Education and creative pathways
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Lesson resources

We have a range of learning resources at AUB that can support your teaching either in the classroom or online.
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Helping your students apply

We appreciate that navigating the process of applying to university can be a daunting time for students – we're here to help.
All Access AUB Students cutting up images in the AUB studios and smiling

Widening access to AUB

Those with the potential to benefit from higher education, deserve the opportunity to do so. At AUB, we’re committed to making that happen.
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Global Schools

AUB offers workshops, talks and presentations to global schools. Get in touch with our team to find out more