Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

Close

Rose Aidin from Art History Link-Up talks about Art History for Everyone – free taught Art History EPQ/A Level courses for state-maintained sector students on term-time Saturdays at The National Gallery or Wallace Collection.

Some sort of alchemy or magic takes place when young students learn in front of a great work of art. Students from every ability level and background are able to make astonishing insights and connections, assimilating the work of art so it becomes part of themselves. This, at least, is our experience of delivering a free Art History AS level to state-maintained sector students in museums and galleries on term-time Saturdays.

Art History for Everyone

Art History for Everyone

Not only do our students keep coming back week after week, and want to continue with the subject at university and beyond, they say they have gained immeasurably from studying in a gallery context. One said: 'Being able to head to London’s best galleries to learn something completely new, and then to put it into a real-life context is such an effective way to learn. I’ve been learning French since Year 1 and until this day, at Year 13, I still can’t speak it, but if you ask me to analyse a painting or describe the formal features of a sculpture or building, then I can talk for hours.’

Looking at Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

Looking at Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

There are other reasons – apart from the power of art, although perhaps this is paramount – why scores of state-maintained sector students have attended our Art History classes in museums and galleries in recent years. Firstly, although the courses are taught by experienced teachers in amazing settings – currently based at the Wallace Collection or The National Gallery with visits to other museums and galleries as appropriate to the course – they are completely free of charge to eligible students. Learning resources, homework club, snacks and all exam entrance fees are included free of charge. ‘It is so refreshing that we are not taught with the sole purpose of doing well in an exam but because there is a shared interest and enthusiasm for Art History. It doesn’t feel like going to school on Saturdays: it is actually fun!’

Art History for Everyone at the Wallace Collection

Art History for Everyone at the Wallace Collection

Secondly, Art History A Level is currently only offered in a handful of state-maintained sector schools, eight at the last count. Yet in 2017–2018, students from over 25 different state schools studied Art History with us, learning alongside some of the greatest works of art in the world. All our students are offered access to work experience at institutions including Art UK, the Royal Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum, in addition to advice on FE/HE applications and careers. ‘Every week I look forward to our lessons at The National Gallery and can’t believe it has gone so quickly. It has not only helped to cement my aspirations of an art world career but given me a knowledge and enthusiasm which I will take with me in all my further studies and career.’

Art History for Everyone

Art History for Everyone

Thirdly, and most importantly, the courses are potentially life-changing. They offer students access to a new subject, world experts, an additional qualification and UCAS points, plus a lot of fun. One says, ‘I don’t think I have enjoyed anything as much ever – it turned out to be a combination of all my passions and interest – art, ancient history and just learning!’

A Manet selfie!

A Manet selfie!

For myself, Art History made little sense to me until I was able to combine classroom study with first-hand experience of the art itself, in my case at The National Gallery as part of my A Level Art History course, and as a result, Art History has been an important part of my life ever since. Some of our students feel the same, one commenting, ‘Art History really seems to have been the missing piece in my puzzle, combining my interests and opening my eyes to see the world around me differently each time I go outside. This course has without a doubt been the best opportunity I have been given, not only have I learned vast amounts and will continue to do so, it has given me a focus and stability. This truly has been an immeasurably valuable experience.’

A session in front of Frans Hals' 'The Laughing Cavalier' in the Wallace Collection

A session in front of Frans Hals' 'The Laughing Cavalier' in the Wallace Collection

Teaching Art History A Level in schools can be frustrating because timetabling and safe-guarding restrictions mean taking classes off-site to visit museums and galleries can challenging. So the Art History for Everyone formula combining classroom learning – albeit in some of the most glamorous classroom settings in the world – with first-hand study of the topics being covered, alongside access to Art History to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity. The majority of our students come from ‘non-traditional’ Art History backgrounds however, as a result of taking our courses, over half want to study Art History at FE/HE and pursue careers in the arts.

HRH The Prince of Wales meets Art History for Everyone teachers and students at The National Gallery

HRH The Prince of Wales meets Art History for Everyone teachers and students at The National Gallery

From September 2018, students will have the chance to study for a taught Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which is equivalent to half an A Level in UCAS points and very well-regarded by university admissions officers, alongside two modules of Art History A Level, with the option of taking a further two modules and sitting the A Level exam at the end of the second year. Two separate courses are offered from September, at the Wallace Collection on term-time Saturday mornings, and at The National Gallery on term-time Saturday afternoons. Students are offered membership of homework club after class, an alumni club, and access to all sorts of amazing opportunities. For some of our students last year these included meeting Sir Simon Schama, HRH The Prince of Wales, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Windsor Castle. Who knows what will come this year? Whatever happens, it is sure to be amazing, for such is the transformative power of studying Art History.

How to apply

You can apply for Art History for Everyone online. This year's deadline is 10th September 2018, however students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

All places are offered at no charge to state-maintained sector sixth form students, with priority to candidates from a widening participation background, and to those with aptitude and ability for the course.

Rose Aidin, Art History Link-Up

Art History for Everyone at The National Gallery is generously supported by The National Gallery, the Rothschild Foundation, the Duke of Devonshire’s Charitable Trust, the Foyle Foundation, the Worshipful Company of Grocers and other supporters.

Art History for Everyone at the Wallace Collection is generously supported by the Wallace Collection, the Band Trust and other supporters.

Art History for Everyone is managed by Art History Link-Up, registered charity no. 1172792.