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RIC Fine Art: Where creativity thrives

RIC offers exceptional Fine Art courses that foster creativity and encourage students to develop their artistic voices. The college's approach seamlessly integrates traditional techniques with contemporary practices, providing a comprehensive and dynamic art education.

RIC's Fine Art A level and GCSE classes are characterised by small group sizes and personalised instruction from experienced artists. This supportive environment allows students to refine their skills and explore their individual artistic visions with confidence.

The curriculum is extensive, covering a variety of mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. We emphasise the importance of technical proficiency while also encouraging innovative approaches and critical thinking. Students have access to well-equipped studios and a range of materials and resources, enabling them to delve into their interests and enhance their craft.

A notable aspect of Fine Art at RIC is its focus on portfolio development. Students receive dedicated guidance to create a comprehensive and compelling body of work that highlights their talents and artistic progression. This focus is particularly advantageous for those aspiring to further their education or careers in the arts.

Rochester offers its own vibrant art scene and is conveniently located close to two other cultural centres: London and the emerging hubs of the Kent Coast in Margate, Whitstable and Folkestone. 

Prize winning work

RIC students have swept the artistic board, winning a record eleven prestigious arts awards in a competition organised by The Independent Schools Association. The awards include work in fashion and textiles, film and digital media, ceramic design and fine art.

Principal Alistair Brownlow says: “We are very proud of our talented students who have been so successful in the competition for the London and the South East region. Their work will now go forward to the national competitions.”

Two RIC students had work selected to hang in The Royal Academy Young Artists Summer’ Show. Ashley-Rae when she had just finished year 12 and Otto just before he started year 7 in September.

Public art and workshops

Regular half and one-day artist’s workshops are held to encourage a broad approach to the creative process. 

An artist in residence scheme is in place with a diverse range of artists, photographers and designers working with students on the college premises throughout the year. 

Life drawing is part of the culture of the department and classes are held for A level students. We are always very proud of our artwork produced by ex students who are humblingly generous with it. Notable examples are Aya Nambu’s pieces that remained largely unsullied by graffiti in Rochester Station for nearly 12 years before we rehomed them at RIC when the station moved. Aya studied at CSM after Rochester. 

UAL destinations

The most popular destination for RIC students over the last five years has been the University of the Arts London with placements at Camberwell, Wimbledon, LCF, LCC, CSM and Chelsea. Each year we publish a catalogue showcasing student work in the arts.

In our most recent ISI inspection it was noted “Pupils demonstrate an excellent aesthetic appreciation of the visual arts” and that this was a significant contributing factor to the judgement finding the personal development of pupils as “excellent.”

Rochester Independent College is celebrating winning the coveted award ‘Top Independent School for Excellence and Innovation in Fine Arts’ from the Independent Schools Association (ISA). The college was selected from the 569 independent schools in the UK. Staff from the department attended the awards ceremony in Coventry where the results were announced.

The judges said: “The judges were impressed with the huge range of ways in which Rochester Independent College values, promotes and gives profile to the arts and considered the College an inspiration to the whole sector. The link between an aesthetic appreciation of the visual arts and personal development runs through all aspects of school life and is highly valued by the whole school community.” 

The Good Schools Guide said about RIC: "The art rooms have a welcoming, university feel, with much of the work on display of university standard with real individuality and flair. It's hard to imagine better provision for an artist."

From The Slade to international destinations

Tom Wynn-Owen was a two year A level student at RIC, studying Fine Art, Music Technology, History of Art and Philosophy. After finishing at RIC he studied at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Art, returning to RIC in as a teaching assistant in the art department. Tom says he chose RIC as it was “The only place that would let me do all the subjects I wanted and did not make me wear a suit. I have met the most exciting people here.” Asked what his favourite things about being at the College were Tom said: “RIC has helped me to learn a lot in subjects I really enjoy with awesome teachers I get on with. A very good atmosphere and lot of help available. Good trips, cool plays in London and the art trip to Paris was excellent.” Tom is responsible for our Bowie mural commemorating the icon playing in one of RIC's buildings back in the 60s. 

Recent international destinations have included Design Academy Eindhoven, one of the top universities in Eindhoven, Netherlands ranked #9 in QS WUR Ranking by Subject 2024 and the University of Groningen. 

Other arts destinations include Glasgow School of Arts and Goldsmiths. Andy from Beijing, China said: “RIC gives me more freedom to study art, and gives me a safe and free environment to think philosophical questions and explore my own mind. It is a good place for students who want to be artists.” After achieving A*AB in Textiles, Fine Art and Digital Media Andy is off to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths, whose alumni include Damian Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Steve McQueen.

Exam Specifications

Assessment method

60% coursework, 40% examination. All units are practical 

Length of exam: A level – 15 hours of unaided, supervised time

Students are be introduced to a variety of experiences that explore a range of fine art media, processes and tech- niques within both traditional and new media. Exploring the use of drawing for different purposes, using a variety of methods and media on a variety of scales students will use sketchbooks/workbooks/journals to underpin their work where appropriate.

Students will be encouraged to explore relevant images, artefacts and resources relating to a range of art, craft and design, from the past and from recent times which are integral to the investigating and making processes. Responses to these examples must be shown through practical and critical activities that demonstrate an under- standing of different styles, genres and traditions.

Areas of study

Students are required to work in one or more area(s) of fine art, such as: • drawing and painting
• mixed-media, including collage and assemblage
• sculpture
• ceramics
• installation
• printmaking (relief, intaglio, screen processes and lithography) • moving image and photography

Component 1 Personal Investigation 

This is a practical investigation supported by written material.

Students are required to conduct a practical investigation, into an idea, issue, concept or theme, supported by written material. The focus of the investigation must be identified independently by the student and must lead to a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes. This must be supported by an extended response of between 1000 and 3000 words of continuous prose. The personal investigation will be assessed as a whole.

Component 2 Externally Set Assignment 

The question paper will consist of a choice of eight questions to be used as starting points. Students are required to select one. Following receipt of the paper students should consider the starting points and select one. Preparatory work should be presented in any suitable format, such as mounted sheets, design sheets, sketchbooks, workbooks, journals, models and maquettes.

Following the preparatory period, students must complete 15 hours of unaided, supervised time. In this time students must produce a finished outcome or a series of related finished outcomes, informed by their preparatory work.


60% coursework project, 40% exam project (culminating in 10 hour exam) Exam length

Exam questions issued in February, an initial extended preparation period culminates in a 10 hour exam.

In Year 10 students complete a foundation year in Art and Design where they are able to learn skills in a variety of mediums. After the year they are then able to choose the Art subject/s they have enjoyed the most to complete in our one year GCSE courses.

There are a number of different paths within Art & Design at RIC, but our aims are the same for every medium. We encourage students to record their observations, experiences, ideas and insights, and provide them with practical support and the techniques to express themselves. Students will develop skills of analysis and critical evaluation as they respond to images, objects, artefacts and texts. In this way their art productions will become more informed. Ideas will be developed with investigation and exploration, using different materials. In all, students will present personal, coherent, and informed responses to certain themes or topics while articulating well informed opinions.

We offer one year GCSE level courses in the following areas of Art and Design:

Fine Art

Graphic Communication


3 Dimensional Design (Ceramics)


Coursework Unit (Portfolio)

Students respond to a brief and should include preparatory work, relevant art studies, informed development and a final piece/pieces which result from the previous stages. Students spend time studying key artists/designers/ photographers relating to their chosen subject and experimenting with a wide variety of materials and practical processes. This provides a sound foundation of knowledge and skills from which they can draw when carrying out investigations and experiments for their projects.

Exam Project

Questions are set by the examining board. From a selection of 7, students are required to respond to one starting point in their chosen option. There is a preparatory period of 10 – 13 weeks, followed by 10 hours of supervised time. Students are expected to develop their own work to resolve their investigations, producing a final piece or pieces based upon preparatory studies and research.

Curious about Fine Art?



The Art Assignment

You could also visit the AQA website – there’s a lot of useful information about what you’ll be studying and how you’ll be assessed.


Tate Modern and Tate Britain

Tate Modern - “Britain’s spectacular museum of modern and contemporary international art”.

Tate Britain - “The country’s main gallery of British art”.

National Gallery

“An outstanding collection of Old Masters from the early Renaissance to 1900”.

Victoria and Albert Museum

“The world’s largest collection of decorative and applied arts”.

The Hayward Gallery

“One of the biggest temporary art exhibition centres in the world”.

National Portrait Gallery

“The history of British portraiture from its beginning, through to the edge of abstraction”.

The most comprehensive portrait gallery in the world.

Saatchi Gallery

“Contemporary art by largely unseen UK artists and established international artists rarely exhibited in the UK”.

Other useful sites

BBC – Your Paintings

200,000 paintings to view

MOCA: Museum of Computer Art

Promoting computer art in its many forms, current exhibitions and archiving the work of leading artists in the field

Tate Exam Help

Tate site which provides support for exam themes including commentary linking the artists’ ideas to the theme and to one another.


A resource for finding fine artists and photographers. There are sections focused on different media which you can browse through. Alternatively there is a search function, though you have to donate to the site to gain access to this.

The Art Story

This website focuses on modern and contemporary artists. It has a great, clear layout making it easy to use. Analysis of artists’ work and context is set-out alongside relevant biography.