- Fewer than eight state schools in the country currently offer History of Art A level yet the creative industries added over £100 billion to the UK economy in 2017, and account for 1 in 11 jobs in the UK, according to latest DCMS figures. Access to arts education should be available and open to all.
- These schemes offer benefits to a diverse range of students who might not currently have these opportunities: access to the arts, cross-curricular connections, and enhanced skills and career development.
- Students benefit from an additional qualification (an EPQ is equivalent to up to half an A level in UCAS points and statistically increases other exam results) and enhanced Further/Higher Education applications.
- As a result of taking our courses, on average around half of our alumni students say they wish to pursue the subject at university and/or a career in the arts, so keeping the subject and sector alive, diverse and vibrant.
- We believe that Art History can be transformational for our students and that our students, in turn, have the potential to transform the sector.
Why Art History?
Providing free accredited Art History courses for sixth form state supported students, in museums and galleries, and since 2020, as a result of the pandemic, online.
We believe that learning to look and understand our rich visual culture is more important now than ever before – and that this opportunity to learn about art and benefit from it should be available to every young person. We also think that students should come away with a tangible qualification, even when this isn’t available at their school.
Art History Link-Up works with other cultural organisations to link young people to the art and architecture in public collections: our aim is to promote the benefits and enjoyment of Art History to as wide an audience as possible.
How we started
Art History Link-Up was established during the 2016/17 academic year.
Its first programme, Art History for Everyone, a free fast-track AS Art History for state maintained sector students, emerged from a two-year pilot in two state schools in 2014, undertaken by Rose Aidin for the Association for Art History.
In order to open the scheme up to all state supported students and to provide first-hand access to the works of art being studied, in 2016 the scheme was developed independently by Art History Link-Up and relocated to The Wallace Collection.
Until March 2020, Art History for Everyone was hosted at The Wallace Collection and at the National Gallery, with core funding from The Rothschild Foundation. In March 2020, our courses transferred online when the museums and galleries closed, and have continued online, with great success. We have doubled our student numbers and over half come from outside Greater London, including from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is significant and increasing demand for places and the majority of students come from ‘widening participation’ backgrounds.
Colleagues at other museums and galleries have been generous with space and time. Classes have also been hosted at The British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Courtauld Institute and Birkbeck, University of London’s Art History Department. Colleagues from museums, galleries and universities, have generously visited our classes, both in the galleries and online, as volunteer specialist lecturers.
Every student is offered learning support in the form of homework club, visiting expert advice on careers and FE/HE applications, and access to work experience in relevant sectors including at Art UK, Ben Uri Gallery, Christie’s, Geffrye Museum, Royal Collection, Society of Antiquaries and Victoria & Albert Museum.
Since September 2018 Art History Link-Up students have been studying two modules of the new A Level Art History course in one year alongside a taught Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) – equivalent to up to half an A level in UCAS points. On average, over a quarter of the cohort take the option of continuing to study a further two modules and sitting the A level exam at the end of a second year of the course.
In 2020, all seven of Art History Link-Up’s students who applied to Oxbridge were offered places, including two for Art History at the University of Cambridge.
The course continues to be structured around examples of art and architecture which can be experienced and studied at first-hand in our great collections.
Art History Link-Up is also developing a new Introduction to Art History course for younger state supported secondary students. More information will become available in due course.
Art History for Everyone
Art History Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and A level courses for sixth form students from the state supported sector, taught in museums and galleries, and currently online as a result of the pandemic, on term-time Saturdays
Introduction to Art History
Art History Link-Up is currently developing a short course to introduce younger state supported students to art history, to museums and galleries, and to opportunities in the arts.
“The Art History course not only bred passion and commitment in all those who took part, it provided a rich cultural and intellectual insight, and is sadly a rare offer in state schools. The Art History Link-Up team take great care and pride in the outreach they offer and were a pleasure to collaborate with. In a time of reduced resource, when learning and enrichment could be threatened, this opportunity is a boon.”
Kat Pugh, Headteacher, St Marylebone CE School