Welcome to the a-level digital art and design webpage. This qualification has been created for students that are interested in the use of digital technology to design and express themselves creatively.
This course is well suited to students who are interested in the following areas:
We believe strongly in building external partnerships with professionals and creative companies so that you can gain a real world understanding of what opportunities there are should you wish to progress further in the subject.
Please read below for more information about the course or get in touch if you would like more information using the form on the contact page.
Progression and career pathways
What is digital art and design?
Essentially, digital art and design is no different to more traditional forms of art and design although the focus is on producing digital outcomes or working with digital technology as a core part of the process.
What makes our course particularly unique is that it is interdisciplinary, combining areas of design technology with fine art and giving you the opportunity to specialise in an area of interest after a series of challenge-based workshops that give you the skills to apply.
The embedded playlist should give you some idea of the distinction between digital art and digital design. However, to simplify the difference between an artist and designer, here is our definition:
A designer works to a brief and is largely guided by the requirements of a commission that will be defined by the client. Although, they bring their own ideas and are often commissioned because of the particular style of work, they must meet the criteria of the brief first and foremost. As the architect, Louis Sullivan said, with respects to the design process: 'form follows function'.
An artist is usually concerned with expressing their own personal ideas and this is often the starting point for making work. They may use the same media and processes as a designer, but ultimately it is a personal choice. Artists tend to work individually, although not exclusively, and usually make their money from exhibitions, private commissions or from grants.
In our course, you will learn more about these differences and decide which route best suits you as a creative practitioner.
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 Design studio 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.
E-Portfolio | An online record of your work
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.
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. 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 few terms of the qualification, 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 skills-based 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 digital fine artist or designer and the type of work you like to made and themes/concepts you want to explore.
Component 1 | Personal Investigation (60%)
Towards the end of year 12, you will start to specialise in one of the above areas 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 and identify a personal project brief.
Your Component 1 is made up of two essential records:
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 digital 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.
Arif arrived on the course having studied GCSE product design and chose a-level physics, maths and art & design. He had a clear sense of wanting to pursue architecture or engineering. For his Component 2 exam project, he chose the title 'Toys' and set about designing a self-assembly kit for children to be able to construct and decorate their own architectural models based on classic styles of architecture. He used his CAD skills to design and laser cut the parts that slot together.
In her final project, Imaani 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.