Slade School of Fine Art statement on teaching in the Autumn term 2020
At the Slade School of Fine Art, we remain committed to supporting and working with our students during the extraordinary and challenging times we are currently living through. In the context of ongoing uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 on access to UCL premises, we have designed a teaching programme for the Autumn term that prioritises the safety of students and staff. For 10 weeks, starting on 5 October 2020, all teaching, research forums and events at the Slade will be delivered online.
The Slade’s Autumn term programmes build on the successful delivery of online teaching earlier in the year, and are designed to prepare staff and students for a return to the building, at the earliest possible date, but only when it is safe to do so. Until this time, our online programmes will provide a structure and a community for students through time-tabled diagnostic tutorials, group meetings and seminars. This core teaching will enable students to present their research, ideas and work to each other and to staff. Our plans for online delivery continue the school’s commitment to research-based teaching, which is complemented by Art History and Theory and Critical Studies sessions for Undergraduate (UG) and Graduate (Grad) students. This core teaching will be supplemented by technical and research-led workshops and seminars, which have been developed by staff, drawing on their own research and practices, and with present restrictions in mind.
Please watch out for further information as we respond to the impact of Covid-19 over the coming weeks and months. We will update you on our plans when we can, and thank you for understanding and patience.
The FAQs are based on enquiries from new students and discussions between Slade staff and continuing students. The FAQs will be updated as new questions arise, and when changes to the current circumstances allow adjustments to our plans.
UCL will regulate activity on its campuses and its building to support the arrival or return of students. The university intends to deliver blended teaching with a mixture of online and in-person teaching whenever possible, and a connected approach to education, accommodating students wherever they are based in the world. For more information, please visit:
UCL are encouraging students that can travel and take up accommodation in London to do so, with the view that students will be able to access UCL resources and student support. The Slade recognises that this is an important question for new and continuing students who currently reside outside of London. We understand that limited use of the Slade building and the delivery of a ten-week programme of online teaching, and the possibility of further periods of lockdown, make this decision a hard one. The Slade will support all its students, whatever decision they make and will understand if a student does not want to move to London for the start of the Autumn term. We are confident that we can deliver the Autumn programme for all students wherever they reside. For some new UG first years residing outside London, deciding on whether to take up residency in the city is dependant on whether accommodation in halls can be provided by UCL. For more information, please visit:
At present, the Slade does not plan to deliver teaching in the school’s studios in the Autumn term. The school is committed to begin the year with online teaching programmes. The Slade can only envisage a reassessment of the remote delivery of teaching if there is an improvement to the current Covid-19 crisis, and if UCL and the UK’s government announce that it is safe for meetings and group activities to take place in close confines. As soon as the Slade is able, the school will resume teaching in its studios.
Working with students, in March the Slade’s staff responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by developing remote teaching and successfully delivering one-to-one tutorials, workshops, seminars and the school’s Contemporary Art Lectures online. The school has drawn upon this experience and is confident that its core teaching can be delivered online. This will involve delivering a structured week of school activities for students as well as a timetable of online individual and group meetings with staff.
An important first task for staff delivering the Slade’s online teaching programme will be to meet their tutees and help them complete a Personal Work Plan. The plan will identify how a student will be able undertake study at the Slade in the Autumn and discuss what is possible for the students in terms of research and production of work. Completing the plan will involve assessing any risks that the proposed plan of work has, what resources and means are available to the student and how the student can be best supported.
The computing technologies students and staff will be using range from phones and tablets to laptops and desktop computers. We have been able to deliver remote teaching to students if they have one device that they are able to access the internet through.
The Slade will predominately use Microsoft Teams, Moodle and Blackboard Collaborate for its online teaching.
All staff and students will receive training to use the software needed for remote attendance and teaching. The school recognises there will be a need for troubleshooting technical issues as the Autumn term unfolds and everyone becomes familiar with digital platforms. The Slade will run surgeries of between one hour to three hours a week, depending on demand, to troubleshoot technological problems. The surgery slots will be booked through an appointment system.
The school will work with students to explore software designed to facilitate group meetings and conversation. Every week, all students will attend an area or year group meeting with staff and our online teaching plans include facilitating group discussions and group work. These teaching sessions will enable students to communicate and engage with each other’s ideas and practices. As well as this, the Slade’s staff know that much learning takes place outside of formal learning activities and they value student peer-to-peer learning highly. While recognising that there is no substitute for meeting and working in studios, the school is keen to facilitate connections between students through exploring virtual studio groups, in which students will have the option of working with open online channels or of taking breaks together. Lastly, the Slade will work with students to support student-initiated projects, events and clubs. In the past, Slade clubs have included: Sound and Film Club; Persons of Colour, Queer, Trans and Inclusivity Seminars; Poetry Club; Writing Club and Reading Groups; Bread Club. The school aims to support students in their organisation of a rich range of extra-curricular ventures.
The Slade’s staff acknowledge that many students will be limited in terms of the spaces and the means available to them to make work, and that equipment, materials and time will be limited for many. This is a problem facing many artists in the UK and we believe the school’s staff and students will face this challenge with intelligence and innovation, adapting working methods and practices until circumstances change. The school takes the view that students and staff are adapting teaching and art practices with the common aim of being resilient and productive in times of difficulty and crisis; our experiences and reflections on art and teaching in this 10-week period will be valuable if we are faced with further outbreaks of Covid-19 or similar challenges in the future.
In compliance with the UK government’s advice on maintaining two-metre social distancing any access to the Slade’s studios will be limited and most likely regulated by zones or bubbles of activity for specific groups. UCL has established that there is the capacity for a safe and managed 15% – 20% occupancy of the Slade building during the current period of social distancing. This will mean any access students are given to the Slade building will be limited to occupancy in specific and allocated studios and parts of the building, with strict routes for entering and leaving spaces, and for use of facilities and access to waste disposal. There will most likely be designated days for different groups to use the building. The Slade recognises that government guidelines may change over the coming months and the school will comply with any new guidance as well as assess possibilities for increased use of our building following any easing of social distancing instructions.
The Slade is exploring the possibility of running a bureau-service from some of its workshops, which will depend on whether the safety of staff can be guaranteed and whether staff are available for this service to be offered. If possible, remote access to workshops will be offered through the online booking system SiSo, through which students will be able to book in jobs with the staff running the workshops and be given a time for collection of work. This facilitation of remote workshop access could range from the making of stretchers to digital and studio printing, to 3D printing and laser cutting. If the Slade is able to run a bureau-service, new and continuing students will be inducted into the booking procedures and introduced to technical knowledge and/or software programmes required for remote access to the workshop.
Similarly, the Slade is exploring how best to lend its equipment to students in the Autumn term, and the school will use SiSo to arrange collection and return of equipment if lending of equipment is possible. The school aims to lend equipment ranging from hand tools to media equipment. As with any bureau-service we are able to offer, the lending of equipment will have to be planned to ensure safety for students and staff.
Exceptionally due to the circumstances caused by Covid, the Slade will consider deferral requests for the 2020/21 academic year. If you wish to request a deferral, please contact Joe Tilley. Please note the following:
- Requests to defer must be received by 14 August 2020.
- If you have deferred your place, you may request to undo the deferral. This will be subject to available space on the programme.
- When an offer-holder defers, they must still meet any offer conditions by 31 August 2020.
Exceptionally due to the circumstances caused by Covid, the Slade will consider deferral requests for the 2020/21 academic year. Please note the following:
- Requests to defer must be received by 21 August 2020 via your UCL Applicant Portal. To request a deferral, please go to your applicant portal, click on your application and then the offer tab. At the bottom of the screen, you will see a section about deferrals. You should then submit the request via that button.
- If you have deferred your place, you may request to undo the deferral. This will be subject to available space on the programme. Contact Joe Tilley for more information.