In order to be truly creative, students need to feel safe in their environment. They need to be allowed to make mistakes; they need to be taught the rules and then be free to break the rules.
Only then can we truly teach our students to be exceptionally creative. At Ashford School, our Art department trains pupils from Year 7 upwards to think independently and to be freely creative, therefore developing key skills that students need for their future at university and beyond.
The aim for the department is that, whilst teaching the fundamental skills of drawing and old master painting techniques, we remain highly innovative and contemporary, offering various forms of new media, including green screen, full Adobe Creative Suite, film and animation. Our Art department is acknowledged as one of the very best because it encourages all students to step outside their comfort zone and be adventurous learners in a truly supportive environment. All students are taught the fundamental skills of observational drawing as well as experimenting with a huge array of artistic media – from digital imaging software for green screens, to ceramics, intaglio printing, reduction block printing, screen printing, various forms of textile techniques, dark room and digital photography.
At GCSE, our students participate in workshops that focus on many of the above media. Students are then free to specialise within their chosen areas in year 11. At A level, students learn on a foundation-style course, studying all mediums, under the guidance of three qualified teachers, before being allowed to focus their practise in Year 13.
The art department and its students benefit from a fantastic full-time Art technician, who is on hand to help and enable ambitious and unusual projects come to life. More recently, these projects have included a mirrored maze exam piece that included sound.
The department also regularly organises student trips to London and surrounding areas for the lower years. Recent GCSE and A Level trips have included residential art tours to Edinburgh, Rome, Venice, Madrid and Berlin.
Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to participate in a large variety of art-focussed co-curricular clubs, including photography, animation and pottery. The School’s own Artist in Residence is also on-hand, allowing the students to talk to and work alongside a professional artist. In recent years, our students have worked alongside and exhibited with an animator, an installation artist and a photographer.
The students also benefit from the experience body of Art staff, who are all highly specialised and are artists within their own right. In recent years, the department staff have showcased their work at their own exhibition to allow students and parents to see their teacher’s passion for the subject.