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“At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me that no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important.”

M C Escher

Our aim is for students to unlock individuality through creative processes, while learning the discipline of the formal elements of Photography.  In addition, for students to explore concepts that can be displayed visually into personal and meaningful studies and outcomes.  

We strive for all students, especially those in our GCSE and A Level classes, to use their prior learning to develop autonomy, imagination and purposeful statements through visual art. 

Key Concepts

We champion social politics and student individuality throughout the curriculum, especially in the Upper School, with strong, contemporary feminist views and equal opportunities for all. We are proud to enable all students to develop skills with a vast range of media and multidisciplinary skill sets. 

Students explore physical and metaphorical space, identity, landscape and investigate different ways of exploring the world, both physically and psychologically.

Key Skills

The formal elements of Photography: encompassing drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and mixed media, alongside darkroom photography skills for GCSE and A level photographers. Independent thinking, autonomy and creativity is nurtured throughout the Art and Design curriculum. 

We champion skills, techniques and processes surrounding realism, as well as abstraction, and encourage students to form sustained investigations of key themes and concepts in both written and visual forms.

Research, critical analysis and description of key artists and practitioners underpin students’ individual concepts and overarching themes.

What is taught? 

Photography Learning Journey

A Level Photography Learning Journey

Year 9

We introduce the foundation photography skills and conceptual analysis for GCSE Photography via a mini GCSE-style project. Within this, we apply the GCSE AOs which is graded using the GCSE exam board specification. 

GCSE – Year 10 

Identity and the Human Condition (Project One):

We take a deeper look into what it means to be human and how to visualise aspects of human existence through photography. Student projects could be based around, mental health, gender, sexuality, appearance, disability, personal life, family life, religion and culture. Artists such as Matthieu Bourel, John Stezaker, Bobby Neel Adams, Jose Romussi and Ashkan Honarvar are carefully considered and critically evaluated throughout this module to encourage student responses and creative thinking.

Local Landscapes (Project Two):

This project gives students a chance to work with film cameras and have an introduction to darkroom techniques with black and white film development. All students will be invited to join a field trip to a local country park to take their photos using film cameras, before small group workshops in the darkroom on their return.

Artist focus for this module lies with the work of Ruth Van Beek, Jesse Draxler, Ansel Adams, Fay Godwin, Edward Weston and Antoine Seguin.

All projects conclude with a series of students’ own imagery that are derived from their own experience and influence from the artists and photographers studies within each module.

GCSE -Year 11 

Voice for Change (Project Three):

This project embraces current affairs and social politics, as well as looking at the history of art and contemporary artists. Students will create work heavily based on concept, while having access to all darkroom film processing as well as creating digital outcomes. Students also explore lino printing onto their photographs with symbolic hand cut stamping and printing.

Themes include:

  • climate change and saving the environment
  • LGBTQ+ rights and activism
  • the fight for racial equality and the championing of culture
  • women’s rights and feminism
  • animal rights
  • veganism

Examination projects rely on skills, techniques and processes built from the end of Year 9 and 10 to form an independent, externally assess project and final series of images. GCSE final outcomes are created with links to artists both conceptually and visually.

GCSE Photography Specification

A level  

A Level Photography takes an independent approach to harnessing all skills from GCSE and students learn to creatively implement independent projects. Students are encouraged to use the darkroom as much as possible, alongside their digital photographs. 

A Level Art and Design Specification

Academic Literacy in Photography

We champion research into contemporary Art as well as the history of Art and focus many lessons from Year 9 upwards on the conceptual nature of Fine Art and Photography, conducting in depth explorations into the key ideas and compositions of subject related pieces. Students are expected to conduct research and critically analyse sources, to inform their own practical work. 

Students are encouraged to extend their interest in Fine Art by…

  • Visiting galleries or local exhibitions in their hometown.
  • Following contemporary artists on social media who develop visual responses to relevant social political issues.
  • Coming to targeted support sessions at lunch and after school to develop skills and complete set tasks. 

Enrichment Opportunities

The department offers:

  • Trips to galleries
  • Field trips
  • Photography competitions
  • Life drawing classes
  • Targeted Support sessions where 1:1 help is offered to students who wish to attend. 

Careers Guidance and Support for Photography:




MGSG Careers