a picture of students and a teacher in art class

The study of art provides a vital form of expression and opens up additional ways to experience and appreciate the world around us.

At King Edward’s School, we seek to provide an exciting and stimulating environment in which boys can develop their critical, practical and creative skills, and explore their artistic potential.

Art is taught in three separate studios, which are dedicated to painting, printmaking and ceramics. In each of the first three years all students are taught a project in each area so that they gain equal access to, and experience of, the diverse areas of the subject.

At GCSE, the Art and Design course covers drawing, painting, mixed media, printing, sculpture and ceramics. Students are taught the principles of the different techniques and how to approach the specific materials, and learning is consolidated through workshops led by practising artists.

Studying art in galleries is an integral part of the course and students will be expected to make reference to the works of other artists, different cultures and art movements in relation to their own work. Creativity and expression of students’ own ideas is encouraged from the start of the course and we seek to develop the practical skills boys need to succeed as creative thinkers.

The IB Visual Arts course is very much about continuing to learn how to create. Through a taught programme full of new experiences, media and techniques, students generate their own ideas, substantiated against concepts and practice of other artists, and conclude by curating their own exhibition.

The quality of teaching and experiences does not differ between the Higher and Standard Level courses, but Standard Level has fewer lessons and students will not be expected to deliver the same number of pieces as Higher Level candidates. Initially work follows a themed project and teaching explores the diverse nature of art through a variety of experiences and cultures. In the second year, students work to produce their own projects that form the basis of their final assessment, most of which will become their final exhibition.

There are three field trips, one of which is a residential that usually takes place abroad; recent locations have included Antwerp, Brussels, Berlin, Venice and Edinburgh. These trips provide an essential opportunity for students to gain first-hand experience of studying artwork and develop an understanding of what they value as artists and why.

Our students go on to the best universities to study a range of disciplines from fine art, film, photography and illustration to architecture, automotive design and product design.

Future careers

In a world where the future of AI is still yet to be defined it makes sense to possess a degree of manual creativity and to hone skills that cannot be surpassed or replicated by technology. The pursuit of Art gives you this in abundance as you are effectively learning how to negotiate complex themes and projects in a way that is totally individualistic and that are steeped in the physical realm of production.

You may be a painter, sculptor, ceramicist or designer but the greatest skill you will develop is how to problem solve in a lateral and unpredictable way that creates original ideas and results. This can extend to careers in Art, Design, Fashion, Architecture, Advertising, Marketing, Film, Theatre and anything else that falls within the Creative Industries.

Beyond the classroom

We enter our students’ work into a range of national and international competitions, such as the Rise Art Prize, and also support competitions entered by other academic departments through the production of films and materials. Art Society provides the opportunity for students to share details of projects that they have been working on with their peers.

Meet the Head of Department

Mr Ramsay

Mr Ramsay has a BA and MA in History of Art from UCL, but he has always maintained a focus on applied art. He has most recently displayed his work at select group and solo shows. He would describe himself first and foremost as a painter. He loves the alchemical process of making something from nothing, and the creativity, individuality, and invention involved is what drives him. 

While he was at university, he worked in youth exclusion initiatives for different charities. This led to his first teaching position at a Boxing Academy, which was a real eye-opener and made him realise that education might be a future career. Before working at King Edward’s School, he was Head of Art at Shiplake College and Warwick School, and worked as a Teacher of Art at Merchant Taylors Northwood.

James Ramsay - Head of Art

Meet the Head of Faculty (Arts)

Mrs Higgins

After studying Drama and Film at university, Mrs Higgins followed a career in film and TV production before retraining to teach Drama. She started her teaching career in London before moving to Devon with her husband to work in various grammar schools whilst also enjoying life by the sea. City life beckoned and she started working at King Edward’s School in 2015 which has allowed her maximum access to professional theatre, her passion. 

Alongside this, she has developed a career as a Senior Drama examiner and is a Governor at a school in the King Edward VI Foundation. She is particularly interested in boys’ education and enjoys exploring new developments in teaching to optimise the boys’ learning experience. She is delighted to work with such talented and creative people in the Faculty of Creative Arts. 

She regularly travels around the country at weekends to catch theatre productions and particularly enjoys new theatre. In her spare time, she has recently started an Olympic Weightlifting course.

Polly Higgins - Head of Creative Arts

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