The Woodroffe & Axe Valley Partnership




The Axe Valley Team

See some examples of work here



Evaluation of the first year of partnership between

The Axe Valley Community College and The Woodroffe School

Summary of Benefits

  • Exploration of printing undertaken with specialist workshops and residencies in silkscreen, monoprint, callograph and drypoint.
  • Specialist teacher of printing established within the department charged with the oversight and development of printing within the curriculum.
  • Technician appointed
  • Work of the year exhibited in end of year exhibition
  • New screens for exhibition purchased
  • Training for printing and ceramics undertaken

General Overview

The extra funding coming into the department has been hugely beneficial to its development over the year. By concentrating on the development of one curriculum area we have been able to make significant advances in our delivery of this discipline. Undoubtedly the most benefit has come from the appointment of a technician. He is of the highest calibre. He has added another dimension to the thinking of the department, to its ability to react to opportunities and its creative development. The ability to make significant purchases has led to the enhanced exhibition of students work and directly improved grades through the use of specialist equipment. Staff morale is at an all time high, and I can confidently state that this partnership has made this year the most rewarding of my career.

Details of Expenditure


                  5 days of workshops by Deborah Law, printmaker, to three groups of 12 students in years 9 and 10.

20 hours of silkscreen workshops by Ricky Romain, fine artist and printmaker.

One session of silkscreen training for all art staff

Purchase of approximately £500 of printing equipment and materials.


Purchase of 8 hours a week, (on top of a contribution of 3 hours from the school to total 11 hours) of specialist technician. His contributions to the department within his first year include : the construction of the Dream Machine, plus its transport to Exeter for a competition, where it won a prize; the building of frames and structures for a range of students to present their work more effectively; the dismantling and interior reconstruction of an old block of toilets to house a new art store room; working with year 10 students on the development of a large site specific sculpture  that developed moulding techniques to interpret a Klimpt like figure; experimentation with kiln firing and learning the effects of glazing.

Specialist Printing Teacher:

No partnership money has gone into funding this teacher, but the partnership has meant that we have been able to establish, through extra INSET, capital expenditure and technician support, increasing provision for printing and a specialist room and dedicated teacher to stimulate and support its development.


We have held a yearly exhibition of exam work for the last four years. This year we were able to increase the size of the exhibition through the inclusion of work from partnership initiatives to fill the whole of the school hall for the first time and we purchased our own screens and hinges for their display, (18x8’x4’ 12mm MDF panels + 56 Cubix adjustable hinges). This will allow us more flexibility in the future to put up displays whenever we see an opportunity.


Silkscreen training took part as an introductory half day session with the artist prior to the workshop where he took us through the main processes that he would teach the students. This also acted as a means of assessing the best methods of delivery within the classroom.

A teacher was present throughout the workshop sessions and assimilated many of the techniques and the potential of the medium.

The week of workshop time led by Deborah Law was preceded by a visit when she took staff through a journey of the possibilities of print making. At this meeting the content of the workshop was also decided. The workshop was monitored by staff throughout the week.

The 3 day Klimpt sculpture workshop provided valuable training for the specialist sculpture teacher to learn mould making techniques.

A visit  to Woodroffe provided a stimulating afternoon of  learning about ceramics, mould forming, slip decoration and glazing.

Two visits by the department to potters who use anagama kilns led to the establishment of a project for next year entitled ‘Walking Stones’


This year has been one of significant growth in the department. The role of the partnership in this has been immense. The freedom from normal constraints of funding has allowed for a much more outward looking and dynamic vision within the department. There is a positive feeling of achievement, ambition and expectation about the future.

Two members of staff were new at the beginning of the year, Gemma Wood who is the teacher responsible for printing and Nick Mussell the technician. Now that they have got themselves established, more ambitious collaborative projects with Woodroffe are possible.

Some constraints have emerged. The most significant is time. Time off timetable to get students involved for major projects is increasingly tight and time for staff to do training is difficult where there are so many other commitments such as exam invigilation, moderation, visits to galleries and museums etc. that take them out of the classroom. Finding artists in the locality that fit ones needs is also difficult, and when they come from some distance and we have to meet the accommodation costs for a week or significant travelling expenses then one has to way up the benefits with the cost carefully. Artists that are comfortable working with young people are not always easy to find or assess prior to a classroom session. It is rare to find an artist who can work well both as a teacher and as an artist.

We have concentrated on the development of printing this year and have now begun to consider sculpture and ceramics for next year. However we feel that it is important to keep some funding available for further support of printmaking, and looking a head to begin to inject some funding into photography so that each discipline area is not just a twelve month wonder.


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