Art and Design
A level

Aim of the course 

Art and design develops and broadens practical skills and creative visual language. Students learn to reflect purposefully on what they have created and understand how their work relates to the broader world of art and design through independent research, gallery visits, group discussion and written critical analysis. 

Students work in a dedicated studio with their own workspaces which are always accessible when the school is open. 

Course outline  

In the Lower Sixth, students refine their practical skills by investigating the processes artists go through, developing their ideas around the broad theme of ‘the body.’ Studies in oil painting, life drawing, etching, silkscreen and various 3D techniques are developed as students identify their strengths in visual communication. 

Work undertaken in the Lower Sixth can contribute to the Personal Investigation which is assessed at the end of the Upper Sixth. 

Students also undertake contextual research in the form of a written personal study with a guided minimum of 1,000 words. This enables students to communicate their knowledge and understanding of art historical movements, genres, practitioners, and artworks. 

The Upper Sixth course has two units and continues from the Lower Sixth course. 

The end of each year concludes with an exhibition, where all students present their work to celebrate their achievements. 

Be inspired  

We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Students are encouraged to delve into Ways of Seeing by John Berger, The Story of Art by EH Gombrich, Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art and A World History of Art by Hugh Honour and John Fleming. For more practical ideas Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist and Bob & Roberta Smith’s You are an Artist contain much good advice and ideas for starting points and creative approaches. 

The art department runs several societies and competitions, giving students many opportunities to create art or to discuss the creative arts. 

We run a dedicated after-school Sixth Form life drawing session each week, where students learn the academic method of figure drawing, focusing on tone, perspective, and proportion. 

Art students participate in a range of residential and day trips, both in the UK and abroad, most recently to Vienna.  

Assessment details  

Personal Investigation (60% of the A level mark) 

This portfolio consists of a sustained project, theme or course of study. It is presented in appropriate formats for the specialism and area of study chosen using, for example, sketchbooks, mounted sheets, maquettes, prototypes or illustrated written work. 

Controlled Assignment (40% of the A level mark) 

Students are given an early-release exam paper with a broad starting theme. After developing initial ideas, students work independently developing, experimenting, and refining their ideas under the advice of their teachers. At the end of this period, they undertake a 15-hour practical exam where they make their planned artwork. 

Examining board  


Please note that Covid may have implications on the way exam boards award grades at this current time. 

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