Welcome to the A-Level Art & Design web page. We pride ourselves on offering a very personalised course at A-Level that builds on your skills and interests, but also exposes you to new ways of working and thinking about art & design.
Please click on our link to see examples of students' work from the past and read about the course below.
Why study art & design?
Every successful company knows that creative thinking and good design are important factors in running a world-changing business. In the 21st century job market, your creativity isn’t just a way of exploring your artistic interests, it can also open the door to exciting career opportunities. Art & design is one of the few subjects that is so focused on the creative process and our A-level offers the flexibility to tailor content around your personal interests and motivations. If you enjoy project-based learning and working towards a visual/practical outcome that you have crafted and refined over a period of time, then this course will give you the skills and knowledge to develop as a creative practitioner.
What makes our course special?
Real World Partnerships
At School 21, we believe strongly in giving students direct experience with industry professionals and organisations and have a dedicated in-house partnerships team, which is unique to our school. In art & design, we have a number of partners that have and want to continue working with us, providing opportunities for students to take part in workshops and provide advice.
Since opening, the art & design department has given students the opportunity to experience workshops and projects with Tate Exchange, Publicworks, PDP London, RIBA, Matt & Fiona, The House of Illustration, Creative Dimension Trust, The Royal Academy of Arts, UAL, Bow Arts, Hawkins Brown and Makerversity. We are often approached by organisations keen to work with students, especially since Stratford is undergoing a large regeneration programme with universities like the London College of Fashion and UCL's new campus moving into the area. Below are some examples of workshops our A-Level students have had in the past.
Enrichment |Trips and Events
We believe strongly that students should experience art and design beyond the classroom and visit exhibitions, galleries and take part in specialist workshops. Our school welcomes and encourages such opportunities, viewing them as important milestones in your education. In addition to going on trips organised by your teachers, you will also organise a class trip to an exhibition or gallery with another student and lead a practical workshop. We encourage you to start making regular visits to exhibitions by yourself and with friends, viewing this as part of your artistic journey.
Curriculum Design | Breadth and Depth
We recognise that many students have varied experiences of art and design depending on their previous school. For this reason, we like to start with a Foundation course that challenges you to consider where your strengths and interests might lie. This requires you to be open to new experiences and ways of working at the start of the course, but ultimately this sets you up to make informed decisions about your preferred ways of working that are based on experience.
We also build assessment around exhibitions as we feel that this is one of the best ways to allow you to experience what it is like to be an artist/designer. Having regular critiques and time for reflecting on work is also important and we place value on oracy - the ability to speak and present in different contexts.
Personalisation | One-to-one Tutorials
A-level is a time to continue experimenting but also a time to refine and identify with your own personal interests and skills. For this reason, we rely heavily on one-to-one tutorials and personalising projects to build on and stretch you within your chosen specialism. In addition to three 100-minute lessons per week, our sixth form has given one extra 50-minute session called SAS (Stretch And Support) for running one-to-one tutorials. With small class sizes, we are able to personalise much of the curriculum around our students and, for this reason, project themes/briefs can change each year. If you look at the work made by our students, you will notice the diversity of outcomes and this is to be expected when you consider the diversity of our students and their backgrounds.
Facilities | Interdisciplinary Ways of Working
At School/Six 21, we do not separate art and design technology, but consider them interdisciplinary. Similar to the Bauhaus philosophy, we believe that artists and designers should work side-by-side and, in doing so, can support, inspire and possibly collaborate in ways that are difficult to achieve when working separately.
One of the benefits of this is that you have access to a range of facilities: From our 3D Making workshop specialising in woodwork, sculpture and ceramics to our Digital Media Studio with a suite of Mac computers with creative software, a photographic studio, laser-cutter, 3D printer, etc. We also have multi-functional space which can be used for any number of processes from print-making, textiles to painting. To view our facilities, please visit our Makerspace page. Furthermore, we are always open to students working during their independent periods and after school in the Makerspace and encourage you to develop a strong working culture that makes use of the space and facilities.
We believe that is is important for students to experiment with new and emerging technology since artists and designers have always responded creatively to new technology. Below is an example of an installation piece made by a Year 13 student who responded to the theme of Water. She photographed herself and others and using them as reference material for a digital drawing made with her stylus in Adobe Draw on her iPad . She then animated it in Adobe After Effects and presented as a multi-media installation. She arrived on the course with only experience in drawing and painting and developed new ideas and skills by being open to new ways of working.
In addition to a normal portfolio, all students have a digital website known as an e-portfolio, which is where you record your project development and document preparatory work. This means that any digital/virtual work you produce can also be documented in addition to any physical portfolio work.
Although, we advocate a certain level of experimentation with technology, we equally understand that some students are not interested in making art specifically using new technology and respect this preference. We like to see ourselves as working in a diagnostic way, challenging students to take risks and try new processes, but also responding to their strengths and building on areas of confidence.
Progression | Higher Education & Careers
We are dedicated to supporting you get onto the next stages in your education / career and therefore build the course around developing a portfolio of work that could be used as part of any future interviews. Our links to external businesses and universities through our Partnerships team means that we can often put you in touch with people relevant to the area you are interested in learning more about.
All students that have chosen to study post-18 in Art & Design have progressed onto undergraduate or apprenticeship schemes. To date, around 50% of our A-Level students on our A-Level course have progressed on to study in the arts at a higher level. We have a Progression section on our site for students interested in knowing what the next steps are after A-Levels.
Exam Board | AQA
Qualification | A-level
Length | 2 Years Full Time
Specification | 7201
Exam Title | Art, Craft & Design
How is the course structured?
During the first two terms of the course, you will complete a foundation course that introduces you to working in different media and learning new processes in the following areas:
We start with a series of workshops modelled around big ideas that give you a critical and contextual understanding of the world of art and design. This is designed to support you gain a broader understanding of whether you see yourself as a fine artist or designer and the type of work you like to made and themes/concepts you want to explore.
Real-world Partnership Commission (RWPC)
In the second term of the foundation course, you will complete a design project with an external partner that changes each year according to the commission. In the past, we have worked with architectural firms and, more recently, Publicworks, a civic action arts group on a commission for the Venice Biennale.
In the summer term of year 12, you will start to explore your own area of study and we take you to galleries and exhibitions to support you connect and identify with an area of interest within the world of art and design. The main focus of this stage is to explore further into some of the areas you have enjoyed during the foundation course or beyond in order to develop a clearer idea of what you will focus on in your Personal Investigation in year 13.
Component 1 | Personal Investigation (60%)
In year 13, you will start your Component 1 Personal Investigation, which requires you to specialise within an area of study and narrow down. You can choose between a selection of areas of study that are determined by the exam board. This choice is broad enough to allow you to work with most media, including photography/film. We will advise you on the best pathway based on your work to date, which takes place through one-to-one tutorials and group critiques (known as 'crits'). In year 13, your ideas and the quality of your work should become more refined.
Your Component 1 is made up of two essential elements:
Component 2 | Exam Project (40%)
In the Spring Term of your second year, you will be given an examination paper, similar to that at GCSE level, where you will have a list of starting point/title options to respond to. This will culminate with a 15-hour exam period, essentially a long workshop over two days, that marks the end of your A-Level.
Is this course right for me?
Students on our A-level course are naturally curious and excited by the prospect of studying an interdisciplinary course that draws on both design and fine art based practice with an increasing interest in exploring new media/technology. You will specialise in an area of study after an initial period of experimentation. If this appeals to you, then it is definitely a great course to study.
If you would like more information or to speak to us or past students, then please get in touch. Why not come and visit us during our open evening? It takes place usually after the autumn half term holiday around the start of November each academic year. However, please check with the Six21 site in the first instance as dates change. We look forward to hearing from you.