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Kingston College Art BTEC

(24 Posts)
Plumbuddle Thu 15-Nov-18 23:57:14

Our son is at a Berks Grammar doing GCSEs. He's the kind of child who should always have been at an art school if only they had them for school children. Once his GCSEs are done, we are strongly attracted to the Kingston College BTEC course which is the equivalent of 3 A levels but all in art and related subjects. He's got a place there for September 2019. I now have cold feet though, that he would be leaving a lovely known quantity school where the teachers know and support him, for a new environment that might not suit. Does anyone have experience of Kingston College Art BTEC, is it a good course and do students enjoy doing it? Is the pastoral care good, in particular?
Thanks all.
Thanks so much for any input.

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AjasLipstick Fri 16-Nov-18 04:26:10

If he is happy at Grammar and could do his A levels there, I would leave him there if he is happy to stay.

Is he anxious? What does he think?

What road does he want to take after? I suspect that a Grammar school will have better teachers than a bog standard Btech will. Even in arts related subjects

Plumbuddle Fri 16-Nov-18 18:27:04

Hi there, I'm really wanting info from anyone who knows about this particular place.

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daisybank2 Sat 17-Nov-18 11:26:12

If he's serious about a career in Art & Design think he's better off doing A levels and then going on to a Foundation Year in Art and Design (Kingston's Foundation is one of the best in the country and is part of the University). Kingston College is a separate entity and although I have no direct experience, from what I've heard there are better places to go. Plus, all the children will be pretty local - Bucks is a long commute.
Esher college has a great Art BTEC - it's normally taken alongside 1 A level, not by itself. But you've missed the boat for applications there.
I was in a similar position myself - a long time ago. Had a place on a 2 year art course straight from O Levels, but then changed my mind at the last minute to do Art A level and 2 others. Best decision ever. Even though I went on to have a career in design, specialising too early can be risky and my other A levels have been valued and stood me in good stead. Art BTECs are generally for children who aren't academic enough for A levels, and if your son is at a Grammar then he is clearly capable and the A levels will stand him in good stead in case of any career change or even in art or design related careers - ie architecture, buying, Never say never - he's still young and I have many designer friends who changed career course at some point.
Hope this helps - just my humble opinion!

titchy Sat 17-Nov-18 12:16:56

Agree Kingston College isn't the best of places. It's a very big FE college, mostly attracting non-academic kids. A levels, including one or two art-based ones followed by an Art Foundation year would be a better route.

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 15:34:09

Thanks that's so helpful. I'm furious about Esher. We do not live in berks but in West London and Kingston was all I had on my radar for pure art. The only other place that turned up that looked good was Holland Park but that sounds to have quite a controlling atmosphere which he would not like.

Kingston college as a sixth form college doing a levels does not look that hot - from the last open evening -- but the art dept is in a different building - I thought it was an entirely different outfit at first -- and my stepdaughter did a btec (is now an illustrator) instead of a levels going on to bournemouth to do her art degree so I thought art btec equates to 3 a levels.

At the intro I thought it seemed amazing, and perfect for the student whose whole life is art. My son plans on an animation degree and really is not motivated by anything else than art and design. His grammar has great pastoral support but they've very medicine and law oriented so art and music barely get a look in. The teacher is lovely but if she goes..., there is no-one inspiring on the horizon..., whereas it he is at an entirely art establishment, he has a large array of tuition available.

Why I chose Kingston to visit (after months of useless googling for a steer) was that I thought it was connected to the Kingston art foundation course which I had heard was good. So I am wrong in that?

I also went in the student room forum yesterday. I know it's only students not academics, but to a person they said btec was better for getting a portfolio and that art schools were happier with btec than one measly a level. Are they wrong?

Thanks so much.

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daisybank2 Sat 17-Nov-18 15:59:36

I left a grammar school to go to a FE College to do my Art A level and 2 others, for the very same reason that anyone taking art came a poor second and all they were interested in was medicine, law etc.
But, even though I understand your son wants to be immersed in a total art environment, by doing art A level and 2 others, he will be spending at least 33% of his time doing art - a massive change from probably the 10% allocated during his GCSEs! Or he takes art A level and another design one like Photography or Graphic Design. Then he's up to 66% of his time doing art! In which case there will be many 6th forms that he could attend. My whole life was art too, but I think waiting another 2 years to do 100% art is best. He may feel that he wants to specialise in illustration as a degree, but the whole point of a foundation year (or BTEC) is that you try everything and many students change their mind and choose something completely different.
I'm pretty sure that Kingston College's Art BTEC has no connection to the Art Foundation run by the University - best to call them up and check though, I could be wrong. Bear in mind though that any accreditation could be tenuous and just for show.
I disagree that art schools prefer a BTEC than 1 Art level. I spoke to one of the lecturers at Esher and she said that if you're academically able to do A Levels then that's the way to go. They generally produce work to a higher standard because of the influences of the other A levels they're studying, as it keep there mind open to outside influences.

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 16:18:00

Wow thats so helpful daisy, thanks. In his current school he can only do art plus photography, the latter does not grab him. But his other love and second a level is product design so you are right it would be 66per cent what he loves. The other one would be maths. That's great and very useful and he excels at it, but he would rather just be doing more art in truth. I'm just worried as it's a long commute, he gets very worn out travelling, and the school does not really get art or support his type of student. He already has his particular establishment for an animation degree planned and that place I believe will take him at the stop of a hat as he is really gifted. So for me, the issue is him just enjoying himself massively in next two years and having a really broad intro to all of art. I feel he will have so much of a better portfolio out of a full on art course meaning he might want to look at fine art as much as at animation. Where he is, he has no friends and does not fit in. He is a bohemian type which I thought Kingston more suited to teach from what I could see of it when there.

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Mary19 Sat 17-Nov-18 20:55:45

Would Tiffin be an option

Mary19 Sat 17-Nov-18 21:01:24

Or Waldegrave

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 21:17:27

Thanks for those ideas. Our family has a long history at tiffin including an ex teacher. I do not recommend that school myself. Waldegrave his cousin (male) went to, And has just gone to uni this year, i may have a little ask of my brother as I had not thought of anything but btec. But doesn't waldegrave have a tough catchment rule?
Thanks so much

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cakeisalwaystheanswer Sat 17-Nov-18 21:32:06

Have you called Esher? They've been under for numbers the last 2 years. You won't have the security of a guaranteed place but come September it may be an option.

daisybank2 Sat 17-Nov-18 21:34:01

Wouldn't recommend Tiffin - it's the whole medicine and lawyer vibes x10 and the furthest from bohemian I could ever imagine!
Waldegrave - tight catchment - boys need to be very local and again it's quite straight laced.
Is private an option?
I've no idea what it's like but if you're in West London I think Ealing College runs an art BTEC?
Also, out of interest, what's you son's predicted grade for GCSE Art?
To set your mind at rest why don't you arrange a chat with one of the lecturers from Kingston College and also specifically ask them leavers destinations info? How many go on to decent degree courses or foundation years? Also maybe contact some degree courses and ask how many they take with BTEC versus Art / Design A levels? And if they've ever taken anyone from Kingston College?

daisybank2 Sat 17-Nov-18 21:37:21

Cakeisalwaystheanswer - very good point re Esher. I hear they in previous years they went to 200th on the waiting list - but then last year I know someone who was 300th - not sure if they got a place in the end!? Worth doing a late application anyway as the art department and destinations are amazing!

cakeisalwaystheanswer Sat 17-Nov-18 21:43:25

They are going beyond the waitlist now. A friend's DD and her whole friendship group (most of whom never even made the waitlist) got in last September having decided 2 days in that school 6th form wasn't for them. There is a surplus of 6th form places in SW london now.

daisybank2 Sat 17-Nov-18 21:52:05

Wow - I didn't realise that re Esher!
OP I would do a late application - it's head and shoulders above Kingston College and I was incredibly impressed with the quality of work and leaver's destinations. A place may not come up until the day before term starts, but it would be a place worth waiting for. You could still hang on to the Kingston one right up until that point. They do a mix of BTECs and A levels - and have some great Art & Design ones. Vibe-wise a bohemian type would fit!

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 21:57:51

Cake, that's a great idea, thanks! I'm so interested to hear yours and Daisy's opinions.
Daisy, I could not agree more about the schools you mention. Predicted grade is A but it does not reflect his ability, he is really very highly gifted. As an example, he had lost his GCSE sketch book on the day of the interview with Kingston for the BTEC and took along some old scraps. The interviewer took one look at the scraps and offered him a place on the spot. He is that sort of child but of course only in this subject I hasten to add. My DH thought the interview was great and I too really liked the atmosphere when we went about 6 months ago, it's like a mini university where the kids make their own agenda which is perfect for him. There was an exhibition of their work and the studio itself was on view, all looked great and certainly better than a grammar school art room. The head told us they had a really high record of sending the pupils on to art schools. But that's why I posted -- who knows what is bull and what is not when heads boost their schools. I did like her though.
I would not mind him going private but the best arty private around here is probably Latymer and he just cannot get on with the discipline in these high achieving schools as he has ADD. That's why I want him to just give up on the lot of them and do his art to his heart's content. It's when he escapes to art school that he will really be at home. We looked at Bedales which was perfect for this kind of child if you are a millionaire, we would have remortgaged for it but he didn't want to board.
I like that idea of going to the Kingston art school itself and asking questions backward from there, think I'll look at some art schools online and see their requirements.
Why when there are so many music academies and schools excelling in sport, is there nothing obvious that springs to mind for art? I just don't get it.
Thanks so much, I'll get down to this research on Monday.

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Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 22:04:29

OMG I have just looked at the Esher website! 3D design! Graphic communication! Amazing. Will definitely phone them Monday. Thank you so very much.

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Redsquirrel99 Sat 17-Nov-18 22:16:42

My DD is in Y13 and is doing a UAL extended level 3 diploma in art and design at the BRIT school which I know is too far from you but I would check out if that course is available locally (I did a brief google - is Stanmore college nearby?). It is, as far as I can see, like a pre-foundation course, studying different media: fine art, photography, graphics, print, sculpture, textiles in the first year and then specialising in the second year. It is the equivalent to 3 A'levels and most of the students seem to go on to art college or university following this course. My DD loves it as she can be creative all day long and she's also doing interactive digital design as an extra subject which sounds as if it might be of interest to your DS. She's much happier than she ever was during her GCSE courses. The other thing is, she is building up a great portfolio of work. Here are the course specifications if you want to search for a provider nearer to you.

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 22:22:32

Gosh thank you and how wonderful your DD's life sounds. I will definitely check this out too. Already completed application to Esher, DS can fill in the personal details tomorrow.
Why did I not go on MN about this before. Thanks everyone.

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Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 22:29:40

Those courses appear to be for candidates with at least one A level? How did your DD get onto such a course when in Y13, has she done an A level already?

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Redsquirrel99 Sat 17-Nov-18 23:00:15

DD started in Y12 straight after GCSEs - look at admissions section p3 of the spec (below), it says 4 GCSEs is the requirement as it's a sixth form level course. She also needed a portfolio which she started from scratch over the Christmas holidays and she had an interview and a workshop task as part of the selection process.
Might be worth ringing UAL on Monday to find out the nearest college that offers this course. Good luck.

Plumbuddle Sat 17-Nov-18 23:48:59

I definitely will and by an amazing coincidence I have a contact there! Had no idea this was where her job was!
Will post back when contacted as I am so grateful for all these pointers. Can't believe I was so passive.

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titchy Wed 21-Nov-18 12:28:56

OP Esher college has now opened reserve applications if you want to get your son's name down?

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