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“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
― Aristotle

Key Stage 3

The Key Stage 3 course focuses on practical two and three dimensional activities in Art, Craft and Design. Projects encourage students to explore and develop ideas whilst gaining experience of working in a wide range of mediaPractical demonstrations are central to art teaching at Millthorpe. While emphasis is given to practical experiences, student knowledge and understanding of artists/artistic styles from different cultures provides both a stimulus and reference for practical outcomes. Key Stage 3 groups study Art & Design in weekly hour-long lessonsStudy tasks are designed to reinforce and extend the skills, knowledge and understanding gained in lessons. From the outset, students are supported to develop personal organisation skills and take responsibility for the presentation of their art work. Students work in sketch books and on loose sheets to suit individual tasks. Key Stage 3 projects are updated on a regular basis.

Year 7

The Year 7 course is designed to unify the varied art experiences gained at primary schools. Projects based on portraiture, colour, masks and patterns provide a common reference from which each student may confidently progress. Inspiration is gained from a wide range of artists and sources, including the work of David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Chuck Close and African masks and art objects. Year 7 students experience working with a wide range of media / techniques, including: pencil and pen, powder and acrylic paints, collograph prints, monoprints and clay work.

Year 8

The course content for Year 8 reinforces and then extends the foundation of knowledge, experience, understanding and skills laid down in Year 7. Students extend their understanding of colour theory, observational drawing and painting skills and ceramic processes. Outcomes for the first project is a Celtic-inspired illuminated letter and supporting sketchbook of preparation work. The second Y8 project introduces students to the ‘Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads’ by contemporary sculptor Ai Wei Wei. A series of observational tonal studies develop shading skills with smaller scale studies allowing students to explore a mixed media approach. An extension of the Animal Head project challenges students to convert a line drawing into a stencil design which is the basis of a stained glass panel crafted from black paper and coloured tissue. Clay tiles decorated with the stylised stencil design complete the course. Year 8 outcomes are produced using pencil and pen, watercolours and inks, powder and acrylic paints, water soluble pencils, chalks, oil pastels, clay and mixed media.

Year 9

In Year 9, students follow a varied programme of study designed to provide every student with a final opportunity to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding to their full potential. A project inspired by 20th century printmakers introduces students to lino printing. The city of York provides students with the opportunity to undertake a personal photographic study inspired by the wood cuts of Frans Masereel. An extended project focused on natural forms. Year 9 create ‘Linear Trees’ inspired by the prints and drawings of Van Gogh and Fauvist/German Expressionist trees using oil pastels, chalks and acrylic paints. The popular Monster Fish Project inspired by sea-life, the ceramic pots of James De Rosso and photography of Alexander Semanov will continue for 2019-20 in the form of a decorative clay container. During Year 9 particular emphasis is placed on the creative journey, as Art is a popular options subject and the department strives to prepare students for the demands of a GCSE course.


In addition to regular verbal and written feedback, at a mid-point within each project, key pieces of work and preparatory studies are given a formative assessment of either ‘developing’, ‘secure’, ‘confident’ or ‘fluent’ in relation to four assessment criteria: skills, recording and research, the creative process and outcomes. Students are given the opportunity to improve on their formative assessment prior to the next assessment at the end of the project (the summative assessment). At this stage, a Learning Conduct score will also be given to reflect a students’ effort level and attitude to learning in Art.


Key Stage 4

Year 10 and 11 students follow AQA’s Art & Design (Fine Art) GCSE course. It is a two year course and the course involves students working in two or more of the following areas:

  • Drawing & Painting
  • Mixed Media
  • Sculpture
  • Print making
  • Photography

For Unit 1 (60%) students are required to submit a portfolio of Controlled Assessment (Coursework: more than one extended project or one project selected from other studies).

Controlled Assessment (Coursework)

Students undertake a minimum of two coursework projects over two years. The first project starts in September of Year 10 and is completed by Easter. The second project is undertaken during the summer of Year 10 and the Autumn Term of Year 11. All coursework will be submitted for final GCSE assessment. New projects are planned throughout the year, carefully tailored to the interests and needs of groups.

Externally Set Task (Exam)

The exam component takes place during the Spring Term of Year 11. Students are given eight weeks to plan, undertake research and prepare a final piece. Art department staff can provide support throughout the preparation period. Following the preparation period, students produce their final piece in timed exam conditions (total of 10 hours). Although accessible to students during the exams, exam preparation work in sketchbooks and/or annotation sheets are handed in for assessment at the start of the first exam.

GCSE final assessment

At the end of the course candidates receive two final marks, one for each component of the examination:
Controlled assessment60%
Externally set task40%

Art Gallery

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