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. An Arts Award scheme (in conjunction with Trinity College London) can potentially add an extra 35 UCAS points if taken by our students up to Gold Award. In the Sixth Form, we can also offer a linear pathway that does not require working to the exacting deadlines of an AS qualification.


Enhanced opportunities exist for examination students including:   

  • Monthly weekend 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 recent initiatives have included the decoration of a BMW car in an Olympic theme and the decoration of a Mini Cooper in a sixties style. 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.

We recognise our particularly motivated students by working with the Essex Arts Award programme, where Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards are available.

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 Room 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 in recent years. A number of submissions at different levels have achieved 100% in all examination components, 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. 2015 saw a record 93% B grades and above in GCSE Fine Art. The national figure is under 46%. The percentage of A grades at AS Level over recent years average 50% (the next most common grade is a B grade at 25%). A remarkable 84% (compared to just 57% nationally) of our A Level students have achieved the ‘gold standard’ of A*-B grades that all distinguished schools and departments are measured by. In the past four years, none of our students have achieved lower than a C grade at A Level or GCSE in all endorsements. This involves no less than 244 submissions.

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 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.

In the past year, 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 second successive year in the highly selective Royal Academy A Level Summer Exhibition, one of the main three prizes in the international HMC Schools’ Art competition and the European ‘Who Are You?’ billboard competition. Students’ work is also featured at the moment 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.

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)