Art & Design

Art and Design studies focus initially on the importance of observational drawing as an investigative tool and foundation for further study.

In parallel to this approach to drawing, it is also essential that all pupils gain an understanding of 'visual thinking' and acquire a knowledge and understanding of 'visual vocabulary.' All of these aspects are vigorously pursued through both the written and practical work.

Art Activities

Over the last few years the Department has presented a very successful series of Art and Design Master Classes featuring prominent Artists and Designers. These have proved to be excellent catalysts for further study and individual project development.

The department offers activities and extra tuition on some weekday afternoons to encourage and foster a commitment in our pupils to art and to ensure a foundation upon which they may build for the rest of their lives. Life drawing classes are offered regularly as part of portfolio preparation for art school entry. 

Take a look at our gallery  of recent pupil art work.

University Entry

Each year a number of students proceed to Art Foundation Courses or for direct entry to University degree courses in Fine Art, History of Art, Architecture and Design. The department has an outstanding record of pupils gaining direct entry to prestigious fine-art degree courses, without the need for a foundation course. In the last few years, students have gain entry into some of the most prestigious Art College such as Central St Martin, UCL, Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art.

Head of Department - Keir Downey

Mr Keir Downey MA,BA,PGCE

Miss Elaine Meldrum, BA (Hons), PGCE

Mrs Margaret Piper, BA (Hons), MSc

Mr Chris Moss

Mr Angus Maclean


Second and Third Form

In the junior school, pupils are introduced to painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and photography, partly through a focus on the work of relevant artists and designers. Pupils assimilate a greater understanding of artistic language through practical studio work and written responses. They are also encouraged to discuss art in class which encourages a more mature insight and greater artistic awareness. Specific course content is formulated by individual teachers, with prep being set fortnightly.

At GCSE, pupils follow the OCR general Art and Design course. Coursework consists of more than one unit, exploring different ideas, various media and the work of relevant artists. Their portfolio must encompass at least two artistic disciplines, from a selection which includes Fine Art and Design. The Controlled Test comprises of a short project, culminating in a ten hour final resolution. Throughout the course, pupils work closely with an art tutor. There are frequent group and individual consultations and tutorials. When the whole unit is complete, it is marked to the full GCSE standard using the published mark scheme and assessment objectives. At the end of the course, an external moderator from the examination board, Edexcel, visits the assessment exhibition.

The course should be contemplated by pupils who have a natural ability in drawing, visual awareness, and the potential to be creative. They should have attained a good grade in GCSE Art and Design, and as the course is challenging, practical and contextual, they are expected to be self-motivated. A successful Art and Design education offers pupils opportunities for the development of personal and social skills within a cultural context. Particularly relevant are the transferable skills that are gained through the research and development processes involved in the practice of Art and Design and these skills of analysis, problem solving, divergent thinking, conceptual thinking and communication can be applied within a range of disciplines across the curriculum.

Depending on aptitude, interest and possible future Art College application, pupils will select from one of the following endorsements:

  • Fine Art

This may include Drawing and Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Installation, Photography and Alternative Media etc.

  • Textiles

Areas of study may include printed, dyed, knitted, woven and stitched textiles, felt making, paper making etc. These techniques can be applied to Fashion, Accessories, Interior Furnishings, Performance Costume, Fine Art Textiles, Paper products and giftware etc.

  • 3D Design

This can cover Applied Arts such as Ceramics, Jewellery, and 3D design

For all of the Endorsements, Drawing and Contextual Referencing are key assessable components.


Course Content - Lower Sixth

  • Recording from primary and secondary sources (drawing)
  • Experimenting with materials and ideas
  • Developing ideas and techniques
  • Presenting a project on a theme
  • Learning to analyse your own work and the work of others in a contemporary, historical and cultural context

There will be no assessment at this stage of the course. All work completed will support the development of A2 course work and final assessment.


Course content - Upper Sixth

  • Aspecialist project built on the skills and knowledge acquired when studying the Lower Sixth units
  • One major project which should follow on from previously chosen endorsement
  • Focus on personal response and the need to show working through a range of experiences
  • Must include a related Personal Study between 1000 and 3000 words

Personal investigation (01) 120 marks non exam assessment (internally assessed and externally moderated). This will consist of 60% of the A Level.

Externally set task (02) 80 marks 15 hours non exam assessment (internally assessed and externally moderated). This contributes 40% of the A Level.


Careers and Higher Education

The Department has been very successful in helping pupils gain places to study Art and Design and related disciplines at Art and Design College and University. Prospective Art College applicants are offered Life Drawing with a specialist tutor and advice on the preparation of Art College Application Portfolios.

The diversity of employment for Art and Design graduates is greater than many people realise. As well as the traditional practice carried out by an Artist or Designer working in their own studio, other potential careers are many and varied. These include advertising, graphics, illustration, multi-media, web design, games design, film, television, animation, architecture, interior design, product design, applied arts such as fashion, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, museum and gallery work, styling and buying for the retail and publishing sectors, community education and art therapy, education.