Creativity involves collaboration, so how can schools manage arts teaching remotely? Fiona Henderson, Head of Middle School at King’s InterHigh, explains how it’s done

King’s InterHigh is an online school, but we make sure the arts play a vital role in children’s education. We have an ever-expanding arts programme for every stage of their learning and offer a broad range of courses, including Drama, Music, Art & Design, Creative Media, Photography, Media and Film.

Lessons are delivered live and cover concepts, content and skills – teaching not only art making and different art forms but also understanding of materials and tools. Many are project-based courses, requiring students to engage with the process through conceiving, planning, making and refining. Teachers assist by working alongside students on camera with live demonstrations, just as you would in a physical classroom.

King's InterHigh on delivering smart Arts
Arts are valuable for their inquiry-based structure

Our Drama course is new this year and it has been wonderful to see children perform as groups and individuals. Our theatre club presents its first online production this spring and students have been rehearsing and collaborating live online. For the performance, they record their individual elements, and these will be stitched together and presented as a performance for our school community and parents. We also offer art, sculpture and choir clubs, alongside film and theatre. Film is becoming very popular, and we run termly Film Awards, where we showcase screenplays and films. There are also inter House drama and poetry competitions.

Arts are valuable because they are usually inquiry-based in structure, engaging students with live briefs to connect to their lives. There are numerous examples of our practical approaches. We might, for example, ask students to create their own musical instrument and then perform to the group. In photography live lessons, they could be tasked to go away and play with effects using daylight around their home.

“Working online within a global community produces surprising and ingenious ways of connecting and collaborating”

Students give and receive feedback, consider their audience, collaborate to develop skills and understanding, and practice together for performances. What we have discovered over many years is that working online within a global community may present additional challenges, but these are never a barrier and produce surprising and ingenious ways of connecting and collaborating – and exceptional outcomes.

Arts involvement fosters a sense of self and wellbeing, giving students time and space to immerse themselves in sound, visuals, and movement. Some students who join us have suffered with anxiety when attending physical schools, and don’t like to speak up in other lessons. Yet in the arts, film and music in particular, they find their voice. Filming and sharing their work provides a medium they can direct, and a controlled environment in which to build confidence.

King’s InterHigh teachers also engage students with real-world settings and challenges. In one annual project and competition our art students design products for Tate Modern’s shop. We have interactive sculpture trails to help them explore their locality and, as one of 70+ Inspired schools, our students also have in-person opportunities such as school exchanges, summer camps, global arts events and competitions.

The success of what we do is reflected in the fact that over half the school are currently enrolled in one of more of our Arts courses – Creative and Performing Arts is one of the most rapidly expanding departments in the school and alumni of King’s InterHigh include Game of Thrones actress Bella Ramsey, child author and business owner Henry Patterson, and many other actors, models, singers and creative entrepreneurs.

Our teachers support students’ efforts and know that successful outcomes come down to ownership and ensuring students feel connected, have perspectives that are valued and the encouragement to find their voice through the medium of their choice.  This, in turn, brings resilience – also the commitment they need to take their unique talents further.


King’s InterHigh

Further reading: Hampstead Fine Arts College on the value of vocational qualifications