Art & Design

The Visual Art Department is a highly skilled group of professional teachers and artists with subject specialisms spanning fine art, photography, 3D Sculpture and textiles. The department is focused on providing a creative environment where independence and creative enquiry is encouraged by a team of highly motivated staff.

We aim to ensure that all students produce innovative, individual and dynamic work, through exploring their ideas and recording their experiences cultivating resilience, and a love of learning. Pupils will experience and explore a wide range of materials, processes and techniques, embedding a strong foundation of core art knowledge. Pupils will become proficient in both practical and analytical aspects of art- evaluating and critiquing creative works using visual language from a range of cross curricular subjects. Students know about great artists from a range of genres, craft makers and designers, understanding the social context and cultural significance of Art on society. 

We want pupils to leave with high expectations and ambitions for the future both personally and academically. 

GSA Art Key Concepts

Study Support & Teaching

The department offers a wide range of opportunities in order for all students to engage actively in exciting art and design experiences to maximise and fulfil their potential across all key stages. This includes after school clubs, study support and intervention sessions, trips, visits as well as regular specialist workshops with outside artists and agencies.

Having double periods helps with the flow and delivery of the content. Specialisms are considered when creating the themes in Years 10 & 11. Year 9 is used as a foundation level. This is to cater for the skills and technical processes needed for Photography and Textiles. Teachers work in their specialisms as much as possible. Our Academic coach is used to support in photography especially and supports each exam group for at least on period.


Across all years’ work is formally marked (Written) half termly, using assessment criteria which is based upon the GCSE marking criteria (OCR).


Mrs L Shaw ( Head of Department), email: [email protected]

“We aim to encourage open minded, creative, critical reflective thinkers who have the courage and confidence to discover and contribute to the world around them.”

“At GSA, I have been given the opportunity to do many amazing things that have helped me develop my art. The teachers always go out of their way to help all students. For example, they arranged a day in which I could photograph a real, classic motorbike for my project. The creative nature within the Art department helps students such as myself, to become more confident in themselves and their abilities.” Jordan J. Year 13
“The Art and Design staff provide all the support possible, staying in after-hours and ensuring all projects are perfect, and to the student’s best possible standard. I am glad to say I studied with them through my GCSE’s and now onto my A Levels.” Cameron S. Year 12
“The Art Department at GSA has given me confidence in my work and helped me explore different media which has helped identify both my weaknesses and strengths.” Charle B. Year 11

Key Stage 3 Overview

Our aim at KS3 is for pupils to be able to experiment, explore and wide range of techniques, processes and materials from across all of the specialist areas- Fine Art, Photography and Textiles.  As well as exploring the ‘Hows’ in art, we also explore the ‘whys’. Technique and the building of skills is fundamental to the foundations at Ks3 so we have pupils who are skilled in a wide range of disciplines, but we also focus on the meaning and social context as to why a piece of work is made. What has influenced the artists, and has the work any significance now.

We cover a wide range of topics and stimulus starting points across the key stage, with an assortment of artists as influence from different backgrounds, cultures, eras and styles as well as designers and crafts people.

A key aim of ours is to instil confidence, resilience and proficiency within the arts throughout KS3. Building and developing a strong sense of responsibility and independence- willing to take risks within their artwork, and not afraid to experiment and explore visually.

Year 7:

We offer 3 endorsements at GCSE with OCR.

GCSE Art & Design: Fine Art, GCSE Art & Design- Photography and GCSE Art & Design: Textiles.

Building upon the strong foundation of skills and techniques from KS3, at KS4 we move to GCSE. With all 3 of the endorsement areas- Fine Art, Photography and Textiles, pupils can become more proficient and specialise within a chosen field.

Within the choice of specialism, pupils will undertake a range of specialist workshops and build upon the basics developed at KS3, and undertake specific and specialised practical’s e.g. Photography and darkroom developing, Fine art and experimental painting techniques, Textiles and the use of the variety of technical machinery.

Topics and starting points are decided upon by the class teacher where the dynamics of the group, as well as individual skills sets within the class are taken into account.

Assessment is carried out continually, and all work is marked in line with 4 Assessment objectives:

Structure of the course is 60% Coursework – Theme is teacher led. Externally set Exam (40%) is a based on a pre-release paper where pupils have a choice of starting points to build a project around meeting all of the marking criteria. All except * where examinations were disrupted through lockdown.

Key Stage 5 Overview:

At KS5, we offer A Level Fine Art, A Level Photography and A Level textiles- a natural progression from GCSE and the chosen area in which pupils have specialised in- Fine Art, Photography and Textiles.The course delivered is OCR Art & Design: Fine Art (H601), OCR Art & Design: Photography (H603), and OCR Art & Design: Textiles (H604)Pupils will need to submit 2 projects to attain the A Level course:

KS5 A-Level Course Information

The major difference between GCSE and A Level is the level of sophistication of the skills demonstrated and the ideas that are underpinning a project. A2 is more independent where pupils have the ability to choose their topic, areas of interest and the focus skills in which they will explore and demonstrate expert skill in. This independence of thought allows them to cultivate their own ideas and their practice, not only benefiting their Art work, but allowing them to build and develop transferable skills that will be beneficial across all subject areas. Developing employability skills and maturity- vital for success whichever route they decide to take- further education or employment