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Art & Design

The art department curriculum aims to combine the development of practical skills with an understanding of the history of art. We encourage our students to continue to make art beyond the walls of our school, grow as individual artists, supporting and encouraging them every step of the way. As their art teachers, our ceiling becomes our student’s platform to build and progress from. 


Art curriculum at Primary is currently being reviewed.


Logically, and historically, in art teaching, drawing is the absolute foundation of all art forms. It is the first and most important skill as it is underpinning all others. Therefore, our year 7 baseline assessment is concerned primarily with establishing at what level our students have joined the department. This is carried out through a range of unassisted tasks that provide opportunities to establish their level of ability and skill, work independently and access their creative imagination. We want to establish what they already know so that future projects can build on from their prior learning and avoid re-teaching concepts.  

Ability in art does not always link entirely with the ability to draw with accuracy; the skill to make marks, confidence to experiment and willingness to take risks are other important areas we wish to assess. Following on from using those skills when drawing, we aim to test our student’s basic knowledge in painting. Painting is split into two areas: brush skill/techniques and use of colour.

Working in 3D is a further consideration to evaluate. One student who is proficient in drawing or painting may or may not have the same expert skills when it comes to constructing a three-dimensional form. By assessing our students over a range of demanding and diverse 2D and 3D skills; this will enable teaching staff to establish where each individual students’ strengths and weaknesses lie. We can then plan and adjust out schemes of learning accordingly to support and scaffold our students’ weaknesses, but also celebrate and challenge their strengths to help them grow and flourish as artists.

At key stage 3 all schemes of learning are planned to cover key periods in art history as well as include the opportunity to develop their drawing, painting and 3D skills. Each year group consists of projects that aim to progressively prepare students with the aim to bridge the skills gap required for those who choose to study art at GCSE.

At key stage 4 all projects are planned with the aim to meet the specification requirements. Projects are structured to guide students and scaffold their learning in line with the assessment objectives. The aim is to employ the skills previously learnt at key stage three, encouraging and supporting our students to gradually work more independently; taking more ownership of their work and what they study. We pledge to honor one of the key requirements of the GCSE art course and provide the opportunity for all students to visit at least one or more art galleries/exhibitions.

We aim to provide the chance for our students to witness real artwork in person. To develop their views and opinions, as well as how to critique the work of others. To recognise the value and influence of key figures/movements in art history and the impact this has had on contemporary and the current art scene.

We feel very strongly about collaborating with local initiatives and welcome practicing artists to visit and talk to our students about their work. This has also included the delivery of art history lessons from students at the University of Bristol. Providing a mutually beneficial activity as our GCSE/A-Level students meet positive academic role models and the university students gain experience working with our young people.

In art we strive to be an all-inclusive subject; we are always searching and trialing new methods to remove any barriers to learning. We recognise and celebrate the extraordinary breadth that art can encompass, and we aim to inspire all our students to find their own preferred choice of material, method, movement and or style.

Whilst we acknowledge the practical weight of skills required when studying art, this should not overlook the provisions we make to support students with their verbal and written literacy skills. The art department glossary of terms is embedded into all lessons and continues to be reviewed and amended.

The art teaching staff are committed to empower our students to be extraordinary visual communicators. To use art to express their views, emotions, embellish their life world and act as a positive and cathartic means to manage the pressures of everyday life. We encourage and support our students to make art beyond the walls of our school and continue to develop as artists after their course ends. The aim is to provide life-long

Years 12 & 13

Course Title: Art and Design / Photography
Exam Board: AQA
Qualification: A-level- 2 year course

About the course

Students in Years 12 and 13 follow A level courses in Fine Art and Photography. This study further extends the skills and practices from previous years but is increasingly personal and self-motivated. Our Sixth Form students follow the AQA A level syllabus and are encouraged to investigate further Art study at University BA degree level.

During the 2 year course, students will visit art galleries in the local area, such as the Arnoflini, Spike Island and the university graduate exhibitions. Students are also involved in trips to the major London galleries. Merchants’ Academy’s connections with Bristol University gives us opportunities to support our students in the written element of the course by working alongside current History of Art undergraduates.

Overview of content

Component 1: Personal investigation

This is a practical investigation supported by written material. Students are required to conduct a practical investigation, into an idea, issue, concept or theme. The investigation is an in-depth study that demonstrates the students’ ability to construct and develop a sustained line of reasoning from an initial starting point to a final outcome.

Areas of study:

Fine Art

  • Drawing and painting
  • Mixed-media, including collage and assemblage
  • Sculpture
  • Ceramics
  • Installation
  • Printmaking
  • Moving image and photography.


  • Portraiture
  • Landscape photography (working from the urban, rural and/or costal environment)
  • Still life photography (working from objects or from the natural world)
  • Documentary photography, photojournalism
  • Fashion photography
  • Experimental photography
  • Multimedia
  • Photographic installation
  • Moving image

Contribution to final grade: 40%

How it is assessed

The personal investigation is assessed as a whole, evidence of meeting the requirements of all four assessment objectives must be provided in both the practical and written material. Students will be taught how to fulfil the assessment objectives which are based around developing, exploring, recording and presenting their ideas.

Component 2:  Externally Set Assignment

Overview of content

Students receive an exam question paper in February of Year 13. This consists of a choice of eight questions to be used as starting points. Students will then work in sketchbooks in response to their chosen theme, developing, recording and exploring their ideas. A final personal outcome is produced in a 15 hour period of supervised time.

Contribution to final grade: 40%

How it is assessed

Preparatory work and the work produced during the 15 hours of supervised time will be assessed together, as a whole, against all four assessment objectives. Students will be assessed on their ability to work independently, working within the specified time constraints, and developing a personal and meaningful response.

For further information:

Useful websites and Galleries


Visit the Saatchi Gallery online at:
Visit the Whitechapel Gallery online at:
Visit the Victoria and Albert Museum online at:
Visit the Museum of Modern Art online at:
Visit the Photographers Gallery online at:
Visit the National Portrait Gallery online at:
Visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery online at:
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art online at:
Visit the National Gallery of Art online at: