Art is at the heart of Dereham Sixth Form College success

Staff and students at The Dereham Sixth Form College where the Art department has been named one of

Staff and students at The Dereham Sixth Form College where the Art department has been named one of the top performing teams in the country. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The corridors at Dereham Sixth Form College proudly display an array of artwork, from fine art to textiles and photography to graphic design.

The Dereham Sixth Form College's Art department has been named one of the top performing teams in th

The Dereham Sixth Form College's Art department has been named one of the top performing teams in the country. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

They always knew their work was good but now they have been told officially that they are among the very best.

The art department has learned in a county report from the Department for Education that out of all the highest performing sixth forms in Norfolk it has been rated top for three years running.

Not only that but its value added rating is in the top one percent of the whole country for fine art, graphics, and art, craft and design, and in the top five percent for photography.

Head of art Louise Chapman said they were 'very excited' to have their achievements officially recognised.

The Dereham Sixth Form College's Art department has been named one of the top performing departments

The Dereham Sixth Form College's Art department has been named one of the top performing departments in the country. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

'Value added shows their improvement from when they start, with their target grades, until they leave at A level,' she said.

'What we do is look at their target grades, which are all worked out by a computer based on their GCSE results, and we rip them up because it can be disheartening for a student to be told they should expect a D.

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'The whole philosophy of the college is the well-being of the students and the support they get throughout all the subjects.'

The art staff believe the secret to their success lies in the freedom they give their students to grow creatively while keeping a close eye on their pastoral care.

Their intake comes from the two Dereham high schools but also from all over Norfolk and they treat them very much like university students, giving them the right level of guidance while allowing them to establish an independence in their work.

They have also formed an extensive networking system with other schools and colleges.

Maureen Mottley, who is head of art and design at Northgate High School and teaches at the college, said they set aspirational targets. 'It is a mistake to think that Norwich is the creative hub when this proves our education here in Dereham is the best in the county and we are very proud of our kids.'

There are so many success stories from the college as their students have gone into careers in the industry, from a sculptor working at Madame Tussauds to another getting a job at one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. A student has worked for a designer in China while another designed the graphics for the London Marathon.

'They go out ready for the next stage of their careers,' said Miss Chapman.

* The college is putting on a collaborative showcase at The Forum in Norwich from 6pm on Monday, November 7 to 1pm on Wednesday, November 9 to promote it as a vibrant learning community.

* For more information visit the website www.dsfc.org.uk.

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