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Our Art Department is renowned for producing a diverse range of dynamic and innovative work. Throughout their time at Shiplake, pupils have the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in art and design, develop ideas and expand creative thinking. This enhances pupils’ independent learning skills and allows them to apply learning in a practical and realistic way.


The department is housed on the top floor of our bespoke John Turner Building. It features two purpose-built classrooms which benefit from natural light flooding in through the skylights. 3D ceramic work is created on pottery wheels or hand built and then fired in our large kiln, and we have facilities for etching, lino and screen-printing too. Our ethos allows artists the freedom to express themselves creatively through a variety of mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpting with wire and clay and textiles. The inspirational space allows us to facilitate life drawing for A-level students and weekly art clubs for all year groups.

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Additional Opportunities

The Art Department regularly organises trips to galleries and exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Furthermore, the College hosts workshops in which visiting artists share their skills and knowledge with pupils. The co-curricular Art Club provides a fun and relaxing environment for pupils to release their creative tension. Club members enjoy attempting ambitious projects away from the pressures and limitations of the academic environment.


Key Stage 3

Lower School and Year 9 pupils are taught a range of techniques across several different artistic media such as printmaking, drawing, painting and ceramics. Pupils are encouraged to experiment and express themselves, which leads many to discover a passion for the subject. The varied curriculum also enables pupils to identify particular strengths which they may wish to focus on when pursuing Art further up the College. As well as having their weekly art lesson, pupils will have access to the Art Club activities. 


Art is a very popular GCSE subject option with Shiplake pupils. Pupils will have the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in art and design. This will develop ideas and expand creative thinking, develop independent learning skills and allow pupils to apply their learning in a practical, fun and realistic way. Course Overview The Art Department follows the AQA Fine Art course which includes drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpting and ceramics/3D work. The variety of skills covered provides the best all-around basic training for a career in art and design and an insight into the rigours of A Level Art, as well as identifying pupils’ strengths. 

Additional opportunities such as field trips and local artist workshops may be included as part of the course and pupils are expected to visit art galleries and exhibitions for holiday prep. Artist research is very important. Visits to galleries, exhibitions and museums to see art ‘in the flesh’ are absolutely vital. To see the link between this activity and the pupils’ own work is expected and assessed. The higher grades are not achieved without this requirement being more than adequately met.

Art GCSE is a stepping stone to careers in the following field such as animation, set design, architecture, graphic design, art therapy, car design, product design, tattooist, illustration, photography, fashion, cartoonist and sculpture.


Sixth Form

Anyone who has a proven ability and a love of art will be well-suited to studying the subject at A Level. The course further builds upon skills and techniques which have been nurtured throughout school life. 

The Art Department runs a reformed linear course. This means that in the first year, teaching will follow a ‘carousel’ approach of specific areas such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, conceptual art and ceramics/3D sculpture. This multimedia course will provide the best all-round basic training for a career in art and design. Pupils will develop a deep understanding of their chosen specialism and the ability to critically evaluate their own work and that of others. Pupils are then able to tailor their final year of the course to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations in order to follow their route through to Higher Education. Visits to see art in the flesh are absolutely vital and connections between this activity and the outcomes of it in the pupil’s own work is expected and is assessed. The higher grades are not achieved without this requirement being more than adequately met. Pupils are therefore expected to independently conduct research on field trips and in their own time by visiting galleries and exhibitions. Residential trips in the UK and abroad also provide invaluable opportunities to broaden pupils’ knowledge and experiences of art, craft and design from various cultural and contextual perspectives.

How will I be assessed? Assessment throughout the course is split between coursework and externally set assignments. Internal assessment takes place in Year 12 although successful work can be subsequently submitted as coursework. The coursework element commences in the Spring Term of Year 12 and is worth 60% of the final A Level mark. The external examination is completed between February and May and is worth 40%. 

What next? An A Level in art with a good portfolio opens the door to further studies in architecture, fine art, teaching, fashion, textiles, ceramics, commercial art, photography, theatre design, film and video. For talented artists, the opportunities are enormous. With the exception of science-based subjects, this subject is acceptable for many unrelated university courses. This makes art a useful second or third subject for most routes into higher education.