Foundation Diploma
in Art and Design

June 2021 marks the end of an academic which has seen Manchester School of Art deliver, for the first time, the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. As such it’s been a ‘first time’ for staff as well as students which has served to make it a particularly ‘challenging’ academic year. As Programme Leader I’ve witnessed a highly passionate, engaged and professional team of staff pioneer new teaching strategies and methods of delivery which have surpassed those which have historically been recognised nationally as good practice. It’s their efforts and progress which has again highlighted the programmes unique ability to tease out and address the needs of those curious about a career in the Creative Industries. In this company the benefits to students needs little elaboration. Whilst on the programme students cannot ignore the fact that change and difference is valued and that the celebration of both is fundamental to the development of their practice. Not surprisingly the Foundation Experience will, for many, have provided the first real opportunity to explore and experiment full time in the presence of peers and supportive staff, a turning point as they embark on their personal journey.

Back in September 2020 the class of 20/21 soon began to realise that the staff were interested, intrigued and fascinated by their questioning and curiosity. It’s a thought process acknowledged as a shared experience with staff whose job it is to help discover and tease out the reasons behind the questioning and encourage students to work towards developing aspirational expectation. Students are supported to explore, experiment and build on this approach and soon become mindful of the fact that destinations are often fluid, ambiguous and by default difficult to define. They discover that the primary task in hand is to develop new ways of learning and to adopt a rigorous and inquisitive approach to their study. Throughout the year staff have successfully worked with students to build self confidence and provide the support needed for them to become fearless pioneers – able to make independent, informed and confident decisions.

The impact of Coronavirus mitigation continues to present us all with additional unimaginable challenges – serving to prove the point ‘that destinations are often fluid, ambiguous and by default difficult to define’. Remarkably, the work submitted for Unit 4 (the Final Major Project FMP), has evidenced the fact that the class of 20/21 have indeed become strong independent, responsible and tenacious pioneers. They have demonstrated their ability to see, hear, feel and translate findings which their unique creative approach has exposed. Importantly, as pioneers, many have realised the importance of asking ‘Why’ and the need to refine and possibly redefine what they perceived their Practice to be. Ultimately, they have gained the ability to reflect on contemporary society in an informed manner and generate outcomes which have the ability to encourage others to do the same. In brief they have become mindful of the Creative’s Remit and it’s been the absolute pleasure of staff working with them to witness the class of 2020/2021 beginning to emerge as contemporary Creative Practitioners. They have proved themselves ready through their practice, to positively engage with a world which can only benefit from what they have to contribute. Exciting times are ahead for us all as they journey on.

Dave Brodie Programme Leader, Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

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