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Photography is a popular and very successful course for students at both GCSE and A Level.  This course is designed to develop practical and academic Art & Design skills within the specialism of Photography.  Students are encouraged to extend their practical and critical abilities with full guidance from teaching staff and technical assistants with the intention of developing their ability to work in an increasingly independent way.

There is a specialist digital studio with 10 iMacs and a range of SLR cameras as well as other professional equipment, and a dedicated black and white darkroom for Sixth Form use.  Students create a portfolio of photographs and sketchbooks, which are suitable to take to interviews at prospective universities or colleges.

Key Stage 3

Practical photographic and critical thinking and writing skills are developed in Years 7, 8 and 9 in regular Art & Design lessons.

Key Stage 4

GCSE Photography is an option subject and we follow AQA syllabus (

Unit 1:  Students are introduced to the basics of camera use and digital photography, learning how to control camera functions, such as focus, aperture and depth of field, and iMacs are used to edit photographs, using Photoshop.

Over four terms, students build a portfolio of both colour and black and white photographic work with critical studies, focusing on the work of artists and photographers.  All students study the formal elements such as landscape, close-up photography and portraiture, and this unit is worth 60% of the overall total grade.

Unit 2:  This unit is set by AQA.  Students have a choice of around seven questions and are guided by staff throughout the study.  A 10-hour timed session, held under exam conditions, takes places towards the end of the course and students focus on their final work during these controlled hours.  This unit is worth 40% of the total GCSE grade.

GCSE Photography is a good basis for those students who wish to go on to study A Level Photography, A Level Fine Art, or any Art & Design or Technology based qualifications.

Key Stage 5

A Level Photography Examination Board : AQA (

AS Unit 1:  This unit introduces both digital and black and white film photography.  Students study a series of projects that focus on different forms of photographic process and the work of photographers.  We develop and assess skills such as research, analysis and development of ideas and students present a final selection of photographic work, which demonstrates a personal response to the original brief.  This series of projects forms a portfolio of work, which will showcase all skills learned.

AS Unit 2:  This is the AS externally set assignment, also known as the exam project.  Students have a choice of exam questions and will work independently and with their teacher to investigate and develop ideas for their photographic response.  This exam project evolves over eight weeks and will include a five-hour timed and supervised element, which takes place under examination conditions.

A2 Unit 3:  This unit is based around personal photographic investigation, providing students with an opportunity to choose an area of study.  The practical project is supported by a written element of 1,000 to 3,000 words.

A2 Unit 4:  This is the A2 externally set assignment or exam project.  The supervised timed element is 15 hours, and this increase in time reflects the more rigorous nature of A2 Level working.  Students have a choice of questions and the development of ideas will take place over approximately 10 weeks in class and with full teacher and technical support.

Assessment:  Units 1 and 2 are worth 50% of the AS Level award.  For students who continue on to A2 Level Photography, each unit will be worth an equal 25% of the final A Level grade.

All units are assessed by teaching staff and are externally moderated.

Educational visits to galleries, museums and other places of cultural interest are seen as an essential part of the course and are organised on an annual basis.  Recently trips have taken place to The Photographers' Gallery, London;  Barbican Art Gallery, London;  The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green;  Somerset House, London; and Whitechapel Gallery, London.

The keys to success in Photography are enjoyment, enthusiasm and commitment.  Teaching is largely on a one-to-one basis and students will benefit from the expertise of all members of the department.