When the advertising industry came together to reopen School of Communication Arts, it was driven forwards by the desire to deliver something better than the traditional university model. The industry agreed that the UK needed an elite school for nurturing the very best creative talent, but that it should also be inclusive so that something could be done to improve historically dreadful diversity statistics.
As an industry, we recognised that aspiring copywriters, art directors and creative technologists are pursuing a vocation, and that universities are probably not the best place for vocational learning. We reminisced how many of us had served apprenticeships, working with and learning from the giants of our industry. So we began to think about how to create the perfect school…
School of Communication Arts is a social enterprise, supported by over 100 agencies. Some agencies donate money to fund scholarships. Some donate time, by sending their staff down to the school to mentor in our studio. Some do both, and much more. The result is that about a third of our 36 students benefit from industry funded scholarships, and we have a network of over 700 teachers. On a typical day (if there is such a thing at SCA!) about half a dozen industry professionals visit our studio to mentor our students.
The curriculum is delivered through a sequence of briefs. Students work on about fifty briefs during their time in the studio (September to July). Many of these are live briefs.
After a year of hard work, our students are ready for employment, they have a great portfolio and an enviable network of industry professionals. Instead of a dissertation, we end the year with an event called Portfolio Day, where we invite our network of agencies to come and see our students’ work and make job or placement offers. Almost all students get about six months of placements from Portfolio Day, except those who go straight into employment. About 80% of our students get a job at a Top 100 agency within six months of completing the course.
Our studio is located inside a big church in Brixton. In fact, our space used to be a famous nightclub called Mass.
It takes about twenty minutes, by bus or tube, to get to the agencies of Shoreditch or Soho.
Over 800 industry professionals have volunteered to mentor at School of Communication Arts, including Sir John Hegarty, Rory Sutherland, Tony Brignull, Alexandra Taylor, Laura Jordan Bambach, Dave Trott, Paul Brazier, Patrick Collister, Peter Souter and dozens more award-winning ECDs.
Besides an incredible network of volunteers, the school has built a talented and experienced faculty and staff.