Art and Design

Course ID
A Level (Art and Design) and GCSE (Art and Design)

Introduction to the Art department

Art was the first cultural experiment that human beings engaged with and to this day, the visual arts define and shape us in everything we do. The aim of the Art and Design Department at Wolverhampton Grammar School is to encourage understanding of the power of the image and to foster skills and creativity in a variety of media, from traditional techniques such as oil painting and print-making, to chemical photography and new technologies such as digital photography, animation and film-making, all based on a strong foundation of observational drawing.

The Department consists of three staff who are all accomplished artists in their own right:

Art at Wolverhampton Grammar School has been in the top 2% nationally for exam results for over ten years. This is testament to the value that the school places on the creative arts, the expertise and dedication of our specialist teachers and the hard work of our talented students. The school regularly submits entries to the Merchant Taylors’ Photographic Exhibition and other nationally recognised competitions. Furthermore, we host a variety of extra-curricular activities to enhance exposure to culture and the arts.

The Art Department is based in a purpose built building. Constructed in 2007, the art centre includes four large painting studios, as well as access to excellent, specialist equipment including Apple Macs, print-making facilities, digital photography, film making and research areas for art history. A purpose built dark room is also about to be added to the resources on offer.  The building also houses a stunning exhibition space; The Viner Gallery – named after Charles Viner (Head of Art at the school from 1942 – 1968).

This dedicated gallery space enables the school to host an extensive programme of exhibitions, showcasing the work of our students alongside practising artists. We also celebrate international talent too with exhibitions from our link school in Uganda – the Lords Meade Vocational College. The annual Summer Exhibition helps complete the full programme of exhibitions. The School also offers regular opportunities to visit major galleries including the National Gallery, the Tate Galleries, the National Portrait Gallery, as well as annual culture visits to cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Venice and New York. Closer to home the students also regularly visit our local galleries and get opportunities to work with artists at the celebrated Jackfield Tile Museum and Ironbridge Fine Art and Framing, both in Shropshire.

Art at Wolverhampton Grammar School is open to all and the school is particularly proud of the way Junior School pupils use the studios to discover art – in everything from tie-die to silk painting, print-making to acrylic on canvas, Kandinsky to Leonardo and Harring to Mondrian.

More people in Britain visit art galleries than go to football matches and the creative industries are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. At WGS we prepare our students for careers in an ever changing world and training in the arts promotes creative and critical thinking, collaboration, communication, social confidence and cultural sensitivity. That is why the employability of students who study art disciplines is higher than those who do not, but art is about more than that. It is about identity, empathy, personal expression and freedom of thought; all these things we cherish in the Art Department.



The Art Department are awaiting the final accreditation of the exam board’s specifications by Ofqual. We have provided a basic outline of the likely course content for Art and Design at GCSE level. Students and parents will be updated when specifications have been confirmed. If you have any questions regarding Art at GCSE level then please contact James Millichamp, Head of Art via

Basic Course Outline

Students are expected to cover a full range of approaches to study and will find that they can achieve excellent results due to a breadth and variety of topics. All work where possible will reflect direct experiences and therefore great emphasis is placed on first hand research. It should become second nature to record and be aware of ideas both in and away from school (holidays are ideal for collecting snaps of family portraits, far away exotic locations or down the road landscapes). Much work is developed further and experimentation is encouraged, particularly in sketch book format where mistakes can often lead to more adventurous ideas and large scale pieces. The use of photography, textiles and sculpture are all possible if students are keen to develop their talents further.

What the student will learn

Candidates will be encouraged to:

  • Make a personal response to an idea or theme.
  • Record from direct observation.
  • Develop a study from conception to realisation.
  • Work independently.
  • Analyse an idea, theme, subject, or concept and then select, research, evaluate and communicate the relevant information.
  • Select and control materials and processes in a systematic and disciplined way.
  • Demonstrate understanding of formal elements e.g. line, tone, colour, pattern, texture, shape, and form.
  • Make an informed response to contemporary and historical art and design.

Areas Of Study

  • Drawing and painting
  • Graphics
  • Ceramics workshop
  • Fashion and Textiles
  • Art History
  • Digital Photography
  • Computer Design

Approaches to Study

  • Observational and first hand
  • Material and process based
  • Thematic
  • Critical and Historical
  • Problem solving


OCR A Level Art and Design encourages learners to develop skills, creativity, imagination and independence based on personal experience, taught skills and critical understanding. Learners show this through their responses to a range of stimuli. 

Students must have the energy, ability and confidence to carry out work on their own and develop their ideas. Experimental use of materials in painting, drawing, photography and print-making will be undertaken. The syllabus chosen is the most general and widely accepted, yet provides the versatility to study specialist areas.

What next?

A number of students each year opt for architecture, design courses, fashion and fine art at university and past alumni have gone on to study at some of the most prestigious schools of art around the country.


Component 01: Personal investigation (120 marks, 60% of A Level)
• Learners should produce two elements:
(i) a portfolio of practical work showing their personal response to either a starting point, brief, scenario or stimulus.
(ii) a related study: an extended response of 3,000 words.
Component 02: Externally set task (80 marks, 40% of A Level) 15 hours
• The early release paper will be issued in February during the Upper Sixth year, providing learners with a number of themes, each with a range of
written and visual starting points, briefs and stimuli.

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