St Alban's Catholic High School

Art & Photography

As a department we value the importance of Art and Design within the curriculum and aim to stimulate creativity and imagination in all students.

We offer a broad, relevant and varied curriculum which provides students with visual, tactile and sensory experiences and a very wide range of opportunities to understand and explore the world around us. We firmly believe that understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts creates opportunities to enrich our lives and the way we communicate with others.



“Art and Design is not just a subject to learn, but an activity that you can practice; with your hands, your eyes,
your whole personality”

Quentin Blake, Children’s laureate


Curriculum Content


AUTUMN TERM- The Formal Elements in Art

A programme of lessons that focuses on securing the foundation SKILLS needed for Art in KS3. Students will predominantly work within a sketchbook to explore the formal elements individually and experiment with recording materials and techniques focused on LINE, SHAPE, COLOUR, TEXTURE, and TONE. Drawing tasks are based on natural forms imagery (shells, leaves, feathers etc) to secure observational skills and methods of recording.  Further experimentation with drawing, printmaking and mixed media will refine the use of techniques. Presentation of sketchbook pages and methods of recording and evaluating work will complete the skills work.


SPRING TERM-Exploring colour

The project is focused on the formal elements of colour and tone, developing opportunities to explore the principles of colour through different materials and techniques, and through the study of different traditional and contemporary practices in Art, Craft and Design. This is an investigative project that allows students to work within a sketchbook and to develop their practical skills through observational drawing, painting, printmaking and craft techniques including mosaics and collage. Students will explore traditional and contemporary practice that focuses on the use of colour theory towards a series of sketchbook developments and final outcomes.



A design based unit that develops students understanding of different lettering styles, illuminated texts and visual interpretations of the written word. Students will research and develop their understanding of why lettering and text has different meaning and can be symbolic, representational or used for different purposes and audiences. Students will explore the use of the line, shape, colour and tone to record realistic representations and stylised images based on a variety of alphabets. Design drawing will be developed around a variety of themes within the sketchbook before progress and selection towards a final outcome based on illuminated texts, sculptural letters, and alphabets illustrations.


Year 7 SUMMARY- We use a wide variety of images throughout art history exploring different cultures and also refer to images from books, resource folders, You tube, real objects and borrowed artefacts. Students are encouraged to visit local galleries and museums to support their collection of imagery and ideas. Students record and explore from real objects including the use of photography and drawing techniques. Students work in groups and individually depending on the task or choice of outcome. Students are encouraged to ask questions and evaluate their progress through practical work and development of ideas which is presented within the sketchbook. SAIL tasks allow students to develop their skills outside the classroom and extend their learning through research tasks, practical investigation and gathering of ideas.



AUTUMN TERM- Fantastic creatures

An imaginative unit that creates opportunities for students to explore mythological, historical and contemporary interpretations of creatures and animal forms. Students will work within the sketchbook researching and creating practical studies of a wide range of art forms where creatures are represented in realistic and unrealistic styles from cave painting through to contemporary imagery used in film and advertising. Students will develop their observational drawing skills to record different animals: studying fur, feather and scales to progress into more imaginative design work that leads to animal sculpture, illustration or animation. There is also an opportunity to visit the Warner Bros studio tour to enhance students contextual understanding of the design and making for Harry Potter.


SPRING TERM- Paper and Pattern

An experimental project that initially focuses on exploring and recording patterns from different cultures. Students will develop approaches to paper cutting, paper collage, printing and stencil work exploring process and techniques within the sketchbook. The focusing is then on Multicultural imagery leading towards Javanese shadow puppetry and a final set off outcomes storyboarding, making then photographing or filming the performance/outcomes.

SUMMER TERM-Architecture

This unit creates opportunities for students to study the environment in which we live and understand the importance of design that has changed and influenced architecture through the ages. Students will study their school environment recording images through photography and drawing. Further studies of iconic buildings and architectural design based on a specific brief, function or theme will be recorded within the sketchbook allowing students to appreciate and understand how changing architectural styles have formed part of our cultural identity. Opportunities to design for purpose and for fantasy based around selected themes will allow students to progress into developed drawing work, printmaking, paper sculpture, decorative mosaic work, and clay relief techniques. Students may also extend these ideas and explore how artist throughout time have recorded and have been influenced by architectural imagery.


Year 8 SUMMARY- We continue to expand upon the range of artist and craftspeople studied to allow students to understand the work from other cultures but also alternative media such as film, illustration and design. We refer to sensory development, particularly sound, sight and touch VAK. Students are encouraged to visit local galleries and museums but also to experience the work of artist in practice such as architects and animators. Students record and explore from real objects and artefacts to explore ideas that develop into individual or group outcomes. They are encouraged to ask questions and evaluate their progress through practical work and development of ideas which is presented within the sketchbook. SAIL tasks allow students to develop their skills outside the classroom and extend their learning through research tasks, practical investigation and gathering of ideas.



AUTUMN TERM- Portraiture

A thematic approach is taken to provide opportunities for students to view and record the portrait exploring representational, personalised and stylised imagery. Students will continue to develop their observational drawing skills initially to record the self-portrait focusing on proportion and use of guidelines to construct the portrait and apply tonal ranges to create a realistic representation with the addition of personalised imagery. Students will also develop their knowledge of approaches to portraiture throughout art history through practical investigation of cultural and contextual styles form Renaissance to contemporary British practice. The theme of portraiture or the self should be extended through study of the way materials and techniques are applied to create mood or expression or to allow a distorted, abstracted or exaggerated interpretation of the portrait/human form. Students will develop their skills in drawing, painting and progress into clay, junk art, memorabilia sculpture and use of personal imagery.


A based unit that provides opportunities for students to understand, study and apply their knowledge of the iconic 60’s art movement to a range of design choices. Students will practically investigate the stylised Pop art imagery within the sketchbook to gain an understanding of the influence of popular culture on art, media fashion and society. Students will then explore different design options, drawing from imagination and for design purposes based on a final product that is influenced by the Pop art style. Exploratory practical work will involve an understanding of colour, style and techniques relevant for painting, printing, and sculptural work. His project allows students to flexibility in their choice of outcomes and is a taste of the GCSE course for the future.

SUMMER TERM- Surrealism

This unit is based on imagination and focuses on the relationship of imagery, time and the subconscious. Students will explore a variety of imagery through first hand drawing to improve their observational skills. This develops into more imaginative work where students research and analyse how the surrealism combined unusual setting, unexpected changes in scale or form and apply this to compositional work for 2D and 3D outcomes. Experimentation with the processes of drawing, painting, montage and metamorphic sculptural work will allow students to explore themes of transformation, change, contrast, scale, inside out, image and text, weather and dreamscapes. An understanding of how surrealism has influenced advertising and other commercial contemporary practices such as film are also explored. Students’ final outcomes are presented as a surrealist gallery exhibiting where they design and produce a leaflet to accompany their exhibition.


Year 9 SUMMARY- Students learning in year 9 is highly personal and their choice of imagery and outcome is directed by them. They learn about a variety of Arts, Crafts and Design practices exploring different cultures where students have choice in their imagery and visual outcomes.  They are encouraged to research in different ways to develop personalised ideas. Students record and explore from real life including the use of photography and drawing techniques and explore ICT in the manipulation of imagery. Students reflect upon their progress and document practical work and development of ideas within the sketchbook. SAIL tasks provide an opportunity for personalised work and extension of the learning in class.


Students follow the EDEXCEL syllabus for GCSE Art and Design which allows them to experiment and produce art work in a wide range of disciplines through sketchbook work and final outcomes. The coursework is based on 1 portfolio unit which is split into 2 themes.


AUTUMN/SPRING TERM. Project 1 theme - Exploring Art

An introductory project that focuses on exploration of different artist work and a wide range of practical skills. We also have a workshop day with either a practicing artist or a ‘drawing’ day to support the development of observational skills and development of ideas. Sketchbook work is an essential part of the course and evidences the variety of ways they have learnt to respond to practical starting points. Students work towards a final 2D and 3D outcome based on artists of their choice.


SUMMER TERM. Project 2 theme - Identity

A personalised unit that develops skills learnt earlier in year 10. Students direct their own learning and have flexibility in the choice of imagery out comes and demonstrate their understanding through their sketchbook practice and a series of final outcomes.


Students prepare for a year 10 exam based on Portraiture in the summer term which is part of their controlled assessment and forms the starting point for the Identity unit. 


The year 11 coursework continues with a gallery visit to national galleries (London) which informs their contextual work and decisions towards the mock exam in the autumn term.  Students continue to develop work based on the theme of Identity and decide upon their own direction.


The preparation for the final practical exam (10hrs) begins in January which will be based on a single theme set by the exam board (ESA). The exam takes place in May and the final exhibition and moderation of work in June.



Students follow the AQA syllabus for A level Art and Design (unendorsed). This is a 2 year linear course. We do not offer an AS level qualification.


TERM 1 The first part of the course is structured with lessons that focus on practical skills based around responses to the theme “Ways of Seeing”. Students have a choice of imagery based on The Environment or Portraiture and the Human Form. The lessons are investigative and challenge students approach to the use of the Formal Elements of Art. Contextual starting points will be used as a spring board for the different practical investigations where students extend their visual vocabulary culminating in an outcome towards the end of the first term.


TERM 2-3 This term is based around problem solving in response to a variety of themes. This will include independent and collaborative work that challenges how students approach and respond following the 4 assessment objectives. Personal dialogue and tutorials form an important part of students development at this stage developing an independent approach and harnessing practical skills. Life drawing will also be offered in the second term.

After February students have the opportunity for a residential trip to London or abroad (depending on group size) and will then write a proposal for their Component 1 Personal Investigation which will start before Easter and continue through term 3.


TERM 1 Continuation and completion of the Personal investigation. Students continue to develop independent work based around an idea, issue, concept or theme. Students will be asked to develop their choice of study from a series of gallery visits and use this as a spring board for practical work. Students will need to show written communication of between 1000-3000 words and include this as part of sketchbook practice to fulfil the 4 assessment objectives. A final outcome will be completed by end of January.


COMPONENT 2. Externally set assignment.

In February students will receive their exam paper with the choice of 8 possible themes. students will respond to a single chosen theme and prepare for a 15 hour exam where they may respond in 2D or 3D outcomes extending the visual skills learnt from the course.



“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.”   Irving Penn – photographer

Year Curriculum Content

We teach the AQA linear A level qualification over two years. We do not offer an AS level course in Photography. The A level course is structured as follows:


September - February
​An introduction to photography. Students will be introduced to and extend their knowledge of the key practical and contextual elements of photography. They will explore the work of key practitioners and be introduced to important historical trends. Students will develop a good understanding of photographic technology, both analogue and digital. They will develop their ability to research and analyse, both orally and in writing, important examples and genres of photography from its origins to the present day.


February - July
Students will begin Component 1 - The Personal Investigation. They will respond to a key theme, identifying an area of photography practice that interests them and begin to conduct strategic research. Students will experiment, making relevant responses of their own, developing stronger ideas over time and refining and developing their work. This process will continue over the summer break and into Year 13.


Year 13:
September - January
Students will continue to develop their Personal Investigations, resolving outcomes related to their research and considering various display strategies. They will also complete the accompanying critical study essay of approximately 2000 words.

February - May
Students will select one of the prompt questions from the exam board's Externally Set Assignment (Component 2). They will use the assessment objectives to guide their working process, building an explorative sketchbook of ideas and experimentation which will conclude with a 15 hour controlled assessment.


Component 1: Personal investigation

What's assessed


Personal investigation – 7201/C, 7202/C,

7203/C, 7204/C, 7205/C, 7206/C



• No time limit

• 96 marks

• 60% of A-level

Non-exam assessment (NEA) set and marked by the centre and moderated by AQA during a visit to the centre. Visits will normally take place in June.



Component 2: Externally set assignment

What's assessed


Response to an externally set assignment

– 7201/X, 7202/X, 7203/X, 7204/X, 7205/X,




• Preparatory period + 15 hours supervised time

• 96 marks

• 40% of A-level

Non-exam assessment (NEA) set by AQA, marked by the centre and moderated by AQA during a visit to the centre. Visits will normally take place in June.