At Key Stage 3, students follow a diverse programme of study which includes an introduction to as many techniques as possible. There is the expectation that students become increasingly reflective and are able to evaluate their own work.

The Edexcel examination board is used at both GCSE and A Level. Students concentrate on developing a range of skills and techniques, while also developing personalised ideas throughout the courses. In addition to studying techniques, students are required to study the work of artists relevant to their practical studies. There is an outstanding library and database resource to help students identify inspirational artists, and our facilities support the production of highly ambitious work. 

In Fine Art, students are encouraged to work imaginatively and expressively in a wide range of media including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, fashion/textiles and/or mixed media. The use of new media is also encouraged to allow a very inclusive course for those students less sure in traditional drawing and painting skills. Students studying GCSE Photography experiment with media, processes, and techniques which are supported by a spacious darkroom and a range of Mac computers.

At A Level, we continue to deliver the highly-regarded Fine Art specification. While no particular previous experience is required, students must show commitment and perseverance in addressing the various assessment objectives. Such a qualification serves as a natural preparation for a diverse number of degree courses and careers such as Fashion Design, Animation, Architecture and Advertising. Recent destinations for top level courses include Art History at the Courtauld Institute, Architecture at University College London and Fine Art at Goldsmiths College. In the Sixth Form, we offer the linear pathway that does not require working to the exacting deadlines of an AS qualification.


Enhanced opportunities exist for examination students including:   

  • Visits to London galleries, plus half term and Easter workshop days
  • Sixth Form artists benefit by a permanent work space in a separate studio which provides a particular opportunity to work with oil paint on supplied canvas and board
  •  A visitors programme of emerging artists, designers, curators and examiners

The department takes part in the annual Big Draw initiative every October, using the school grounds or other sources as inspiration. Other initiatives have included the decoration of   BMW and Mini Cooper cars. One of our students won first prize for her age group in the prestigious Queen’s portrait competition and exhibition, staged at the Philip Mould gallery in Mayfair, London. Subsequently, the student presented the portrait to HM The Queen during her Royal visit to Chelmsford.

Art trips at home and abroad form an important part of the Art experience. Recent destinations include Barcelona, Berlin, Cornwall and New York. In addition, there are day trips to London Galleries.

The North Gallery, in the heart of the school, facilitates professional exhibitions of student work throughout the academic year.

Departmental Achievements

The department's examination results have been excellent over a number of years which, we feel, endorses New Hall as a centre of excellence in Art and Design. A number of submissions at different levels have achieved particularly highly, thus featuring amongst the highest performers nationally in Art and Design each year.

We significantly outperform national statistics in every aspect at every level and our standards continue to rise. 2017 saw the majority of students gaining an A or A* grade in GCSE Fine Art. The national figure is 23%. A remarkable 100% (compared to just 58% nationally) of our A Level students have achieved the ‘gold standard’ of A*-B grades that all distinguished schools and departments are measured by. Moreover, there has been a 50% attainment rate in regards to the A* grade in 2016 and 2017 and the A* grade is in fact the most common grade achieved by our Sixth Form artists over the past four years whilst the national outlook rests at 12%.

We are especially proud of our conversion rate in accepting some students at A Level with little or no experience in Art at GCSE Level, yet most of these cases can show remarkable progress over the two years of ‘college style’ teaching and learning. We have no less than three teachers in the department who share substantial experience in being examiners at GCSE and A Level.

The examination board has commended the department ‘for its inventive and collegiate approach to the delivery of the Edexcel specification’ and New Hall School has become a regular supplier of exemplar A Level artwork for the examination board to use in important training events. In 2015, the department hosted the first ever and highly successful HMC / Group14 Art conference, which incorporates a supportive group of leading independent schools including Benenden, Cranleigh, Worth and Roedean.

The department has also scooped a number of prestigious national and global awards, including first prizes in the Catholic Independent Schools’ Art Competition, featuring for a fourth successive year in the highly selective Royal Academy A Level Summer Exhibition (this achievement only applies to two other schools or colleges in the United Kingdom), one of the main three prizes in the international HMC Schools’ Art competition and the European ‘Who Are You?’ billboard competition. Students’ work has also featured on the second floor of the famous Saatchi Gallery in London and one of our students also exhibited at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester as part of the highly subscribed BBC Painting Challenge. The same student also proceeded to be the youngest finalist in the annual Education Art Prize. We also compete enthusiastically in the national ARTiculation competition each year.

Head of Department

Mr G Hughes BA Hons Fine Art (Coventry) MFA (Master in Fine Art) (Reading) PG Cert Leadership and Management in Education (Sheffield)