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Secondary school with focus on art/drawing

(5 Posts)
sfumatura Fri 14-Aug-09 22:59:17

Hello everyone, was wondering if anyone knew a secondary school in London (we live in Hackney, but DS would be quite happy to travel a bit in the mornings..) which has some sort of special focus on drawing or art in general? All kinds of schools are interesting, though we couldn't really afford private. Also interested in possible scholarships or similar though. DS is 9 now and starting Year 5, and more and more people - teachers, friends, artists and tutors in drawing activities who saw his drawings etc. - are saying we should look for something like that for him...have lived in the UK for 3 years now and not entirely familiar with the system/secondary schools, so very happy about any recommendation! Thank you...

tethersend Mon 17-Aug-09 15:54:59

I think you may have a problem finding a school with a particular focus on art in Hackney- and unfortunately, it is very difficult to gain a place in an out-of-borough school unless there are specific reasons such as proximity, behaviour or SEN issues.

Having said that, the beauty of living in Hackney/Tower Hamlets area (as I do too!) is the amount of artists and galleries and collaborations with local schools. As an art teacher, one question I would be asking of an art department is 'Which outside agencies/galleries/artists have you worked with?', as this shows a real commitment to creativity. I'm not sure if your son goes to any workshops or classes in the holidays, but the Whitechapel gallery has some excellent resources and can point you in the direction of workshops etc. for children his age. Ditto the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green...

OK, as far as Hackney schools go, Stoke Newington school has the best reputation for art, although it's been a few years since I did supply there; I thought it was a pretty good school, and I hear it's improved a lot.

Chestnut Grove school in Balham is amazing, and has specialist arts status (although this is not necessarily indicative of a good art department)... but I think a journey from Hackney would be way too far..

Hampstead School (not to be confused with South Hampstead high school which is private) is excellent and has a really vibrant art department.

Fortismere in Muswell hill has an excellent art department also, but you have to live on the doorstep to get a place

On the whole, I think you will be able to suss out a strong art department very quickly- look out for examples of 3d work, conceptual work, visits to galleries, contemporary work, varied work (rather than a production line) and NO COPYING FROM PHOTOS (sorry, my personal pet hate- and a sign of lazy art teaching!), and ask if they stage exhibitions in or out of school.

Unfortunately though, the chances of getting in to anything but the local state school are very slim; unless you move to the catchment area of your preferred school or gain a scholarship to a private school (I have no experience of private schools) your options are limited.

Having said that, I think Hackney has a great deal to offer, has loads of funding being poured into schools, a great vibrant arts scene and a really cosmopolitan feel, which could be a more positive influence on your son's arts education than a school that looks great on paper, but is actually no more than a GCSE boot-camp. (Don't trust the OFSTED report, especially if you are interested in art; most inspectors do not have a clue how to assess an art department. Visit and make up your own mind!)

Hope that's of some help...

sfumatura Mon 17-Aug-09 23:25:50

Thanks a lot for the advice.
Yes, Hackney is great for all that, and we go to all the galleries and places you've mentioned quite often - wouldn't want to move anywhere else at all (also because we only just moved here 2 years more moving for me in the near future, please..)

Stoke Newington school is unfortunately too far away for us to get in, we're Victoria Park side. I know secondary education in Hackney is a difficult topic alltogether, and am not taking OFSTED reports too seriously apart from maybe as a first orientation..I think the problem for us is that we're not the only newcomers to the area - all the academies popping up around us are also new, and nobody knows much about them yet. However, they seem to mainly focus on finance and business, and I'm not too sure ds would be happy with that on the long run.

Also, people round here seem very keen on either the grammar school Latymer in Edmonton (yes, I know, extremely difficult to get in..) or the Anglo-European school in Essex (about which I've also heard bad stories, though) - will visit those and see. They can be reached within reasonable time..under an hour, or just about an hour - with public transport. Will also look at Chestnut Grove - sounds great, but long way, as you said.

Thanks again for all the useful tips!

bruffin Mon 17-Aug-09 23:44:14

Haileybury does an art scholarship and burseries. It's on the same train line as Hackney Downs.

cascade Wed 19-Aug-09 10:12:06

Morpeth School. Fantastic School and Arts Specialist school. Its rated from ofsted is Outstanding. Not far from you as its just by Victoria Park/Bethnal Green road. Very very difficult to get in though.

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