This intensive one year programme is long-established and nationally respected: the qualification was originally developed here in the 1950s. It’s designed to get you onto the degree course of your choice: our students are very highly regarded by the most prestigious art schools, nationally and internationally. We emphasis problem-solving and critical thinking; you’ll be asked to reject your preconceptions and take risks outside your comfort zone. You’ll learn through playful experimentation and use lateral thinking to come at problems from new angles, proposing your own creative solutions. You’ll develop a clear understanding of who you are as a practitioner, and be empowered to have informed opinions—and to get them heard.
Art and design covers a bewildering variety of disciplines within which you could build a rewarding career—but how do you choose where to specialise?
We’ll help you decide by providing studio experience and broadening your skills and strategic thinking. You’ll have an advantage over those applying for degrees from school (admissions tutors often look favorably on applicants with a foundation diploma); we’ll help you find the right course for you, at the right institution, where you’re most likely to flourish.
Within this intensively creative and demanding environment you’ll be challenged to become more inventive and experimental. You’ll learn to communicate with different audiences, developing your analytical and critical faculties while learning to defend and justify your work.
The ability to draw is one of the strongest assets you can have—that’s why drawing, in its many forms, underpins all idea development here. However, in Stage 1 you’ll also develop technical skills in wood, metal, clay, photography, paper-based print, critical writing, the library and computer suites.
Stage 2 focuses on graphics, illustration & digital media, fine art, textiles, fashion & design for performance, or object & spatial design. You’ll have opportunities to work with fabric-printing and dyeing, computer software, book-binding, paper-print, glass, animation, moving image and film.
Stage 3 is a final project negotiated by you. This forms the bulk of the work you’ll exhibit in the End of Year Show, which is always well attended by art and design professionals, friends and family.
We arrange educational residential and studio visits to enrich your experiences and support your research and understanding.
A programme of lectures, seminars, research and reading will introduce you to the breadth of art and design. You will develop an understanding of contemporary practice within your specialist area and you’ll compile a critical journal: these will prepare you for the discussions you’ll have in the studio and at degree-course interviews.
The programme runs from August to early June, allowing more time to prepare your portfolio for interview for your higher education course. The intense nature of the course makes it vitally important that you come prepared to work hard and put a lot of effort into what is a very challenging yet highly enjoyable year.
Our ideal students
We’re looking for talented people who have learned from a range of creative and life experiences. Due to the intensive nature of the programme, you’ll need a high degree of motivation and a commitment to hard work.
We interview all applicants and look at their GCSE results/projected A level grades. We’ll look at your portfolio and explore your understanding of the contemporary visual world.
Where you’ll study and work
You’ll be based at Vernon Street, with full access to excellent facilities across all disciplines. Past students have included Danny Sangra, Sam Arthur, Damien Hirst, Marcus Harvey, Georgia Shaw, Jill Shaddock, Phil Proctor, Laura Carlin, James Thompson, Nicholas Wheatley, Lucy Clout, Si Scott
96% of our students go on to study at degree level and then on to high-flying careers in a wide range of disciplines.