The department encourages students through all key stages to explore topics using a wide range of media. Students will be given the opportunity to work in both 2D and 3D. Opportunities to draw and paint, work with modelling materials such as plaster, scrap materials and wire sculptures as well as printmaking facilities, textiles and ceramics.

The subject is practically based, however, students are expected to record ideas and observations in both visual and written form. The traditional language of art and design: line, tone, form, texture and colour will be explored, and the use of sketchbooks forms an important part. 

We feel it is important to enrich our students learning experience with visits to galleries and museums, either as a starting point for project work or where the exhibition is thought to be a valuable experience.  Some history of art is studied to cultivate an appreciation of painting and drawing from different periods and cultures. This gives students opportunities to develop personal responses to ideas, observations, experiences, environments and cultures in practical, critical and contextual forms.

Key Stage 3


Pupils will be required to produce a portfolio of work over the 2 years from which 3 projects will be submitted, each consisting of sketches, studies, paintings and allied material. The AQA GCSE syllabus encourages pupils to work in much greater depth on a project than before, thinking, researching and planning for themselves. Consequently students develop a strong and confident personal style.

The Art and Design GCSE is examined on a basis of 60% coursework completed throughout the 2 years during art lessons and 40% controlled test  (a choice of themes or titles, one of which will be completed under supervision over a total of 10 hours during year 11).

The examination board used at The Downs School for GCSE Fine Art is AQA:

Year 10 Year 11
Tool Project
Structures mock exam unit
I, Me and Mine
I, Me and Mine – continued with mock exam
AQA Externally set examination paper


Year 10 Curriculum Summary Plan

Year 11 Curriculum Summary Plan

A Level

Students studying A-level Fine Art develop an awareness of Art & Design issues and they learn about the diverse roles and functions of Fine Art in contemporary life and in different cultures. Students use colour, form, texture, pattern and different materials and processes to communicate what they see, feel and think.

The examination board used at The Downs School for A-level Fine Art is AQA:

A-level Fine Art
Personal Investigation
60% of A-Level
Personal investigation supported by written element of 1000-3000 words
Externally Set Assignment
40% of A-Level
Supervised time of 15 hours


Entry Requirements

It is desirable that students should have obtained at least a grade (B) 5+ in GCSE Art. Students joining The Downs Sixth Form should be prepared to present a portfolio of work. The most important qualities students should bring to this course are high levels of enthusiasm, interest and self-motivation.

Course Content

Throughout the one and two year courses students are encouraged to work with a variety of media, i.e. different painting and drawing media, textiles, printing techniques and three dimensional construction in various materials. Students are expected to keep a 'busy' sketchpad and to be aware of and visit as many exhibitions as possible. Critical and historical studies are an important part of both courses.

Art Level Art is demanding and time consuming courses which offer the individual great personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement in developing their own abilities to a high degree of competence.

Years 12 and 13 Curriculum Summary Art and Design


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