Art & Design

Key Stage 3

During Key Stage 3 we aim to do two things. To give all students a lively and stimulating three year course that develops their visual literacy, practical skills and understanding of Art practice and for those who want to take the subject further, to lay the foundations of good practice and develop the skills and understanding that are required to study the subject successfully at GCSE.

Key Stage 4

Why study Art & Design?

  • Arts and culture promote economic growth. The UK’s creative industries are worth £84.7 billion and employ one in 11 people. (Office for National Statistics)
  • Art and Design courses can lead to multiple creative career options, such as Illustrator, photographer, animator, graphic designer, interior designer, printmaker, jewellery designer, fashion designer, architect, product designer, ceramicist, game-designer, video/film-maker, textile designer etc.
  • Art & Design supports the development of ideas and lateral thinking, builds confidence, creativity and communication skills. (Creative Industries Federation: Social Mobility and the Skills Gap)
  • Students who engage in quality arts education experiences are less likely to drop out of education, have a more positive view of themselves, demonstrate improved engagement, collaboration and motivation and develop their personalities, self-expression and imagination. (Cultural Education in England, DfE and DCMS)
  • Studying Art & Design involves learning in a different way to those in most other subjects and it can be a great source of fun and satisfaction.

What are the key skills?

  1. Research skills – you will need to be able to carry out independent research into the work and practices of other artists and also into any issues that you may be dealing with in your work as a theme.
  2. Critical/analytical skills – You need to be able to write in clear English and use subject specific vocabulary to confidently demonstrate your understanding of the meanings, techniques and working practices of a range of artists (e.g. who, what,  when, where, why, and how?).
  3. Drawing skills – As a successful artist you need to be able to confidently record your thoughts, feelings and ideas in a visual way. Drawing is still the fundamental skill underpinning most other artwork.
  4. Painting Skills – Being able to get colour into your ideas quickly is an essential skill when visualising your ideas. Paint is an excellent vehicle for doing this. Along with drawing, this is another of the building blocks of the subject.
  5. Studentship skills – You will need to be able to demonstrate enthusiasm, commitment, perseverance and be well organised. You need to be prepared to make mistakes to maximise your progress in Art & Design as you learn more from them. Most great pieces of art and the techniques used to create it have been arrived at through a process of experimentation, trial and error, continuing with what is working, changing what isn’t.

What will it be like?

You will need to research and investigate themes by doing drawing, painting and photographic work based on items and imagery related to your project topic. You will also need to investigate the work of other artists and designers to help you develop your own creative processes. Drawing inspiration from the artists that you have studied, you will go on to develop your own independent work, creating personal visual ideas and outcomes.


The assessment of the course is divided into two distinct components, the Portfolio of Work and the Externally Set Assignment (Exam).

The Portfolio of work is selected from the project work that you do throughout the two year course. This usually comprises of three separate units or projects. A project should consist of the research and investigation (preparation) work, done in sketchbooks or on study sheets and a project final piece or outcome. The Portfolio of work is displayed for final assessment at the end of the course; this accounts for 60% of your eventual grade.

The Externally Set Assignment is like a further Portfolio project but this time the theme is set by the examining body (AQA) and the final outcome has to be completed within a strict time period (like any other type of exam). Once the starting point has been given to students, they are allowed a period of preparation time to research and investigate the topic, producing studies, investigating the work of related artists and creating ideas for possible development. The student then has to undertake a 10 hour period of sustained and focussed study, creating their final outcome (typically broken up into 3X3hour sessions plus a further hour). This work is then assessed at the same time as the portfolio work but is marked separately and accounts for the remaining 40% of the final grade.

Key Stage 5

Study at A-Level in Art and Design continues the approach and methodology encountered at GCSE. Project themes are expected to be more mature, be pursued independently and go into more depth and detail. Your skills are also expected to be more highly developed; however, the fundamental structure and the scheme of assessment are very similar to Key Stage 4.

 Key Stage 5 Course Information – Art & Design