Photography is a highly useful qualification for our age of visual communication and social media. It can be a pathway to courses in Art & Design, Photography, Video, Film Animation. However, It is has also proved invaluable for students planning to study such courses as Business Management, Biological and Chemical sciences, Forensics, Psychology and Marketing, additionally to those who choose careers in the Arts.
At present the UK has the largest creative industries sector in Europe, employing 1.5 million people and generating exports worth £8.9bn a year.
Photography, as part of the Arts, play a significant part in our UK economy – contributing 6% of GDP and exporting over £16bn annually. Digital and creative industries are the UK’s third largest export. Research has shown that students who take part in arts activities increase their attainment in Maths and English, due to creative problem solving and analytical skills taught through visual subjects.
This course provokes and develops independent learning and research skills. AS/A2 Photography will not only develop a student’s visual, technical and practical skills; it will inspire confidence in questioning and analysing the visual world around them, as well as understanding social and historical context.
The course is offered as an AS as well as the option of studying the full A2. Each year in the first term starts with taught skills in both traditional wet darkroom processes and digital new media. It is a fast pace, exciting and experimental course, driven by the student’s passion for exploring their choice of subject matter and supported with committed, knowledgeable staff.
Pupils are welcome to use the studios and darkroom in their free time. Open studio is offered three days a week after school, with a member of staff who is available for help with book work and practical tasks. Photography Club is run for the younger years (1st to 4th form) in Autumn and Spring term.
As part of the courses students visit galleries and exhibitions in London and further afield, such as Paris.
The Advanced Supplementary (AS) course involves both practical work and critical and historical studies. Students of Photography are expected to be taking photos regularly, working in their Workbooks developing their personal portfolio and involving related works of other photographers, artists, designers and filmmakers. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their work.
The first term is very much led by teachers in practical workshops with students learning exciting darkroom and film photography skills. As the course progresses it covers digital media and touches upon photo editing in computer software. As students gain more confidence they develop their own projects and start to work independently. The rest of the year is spent developing their own projects and ideas that they wish to explore until around late January when the Externally Set Exam project begins, taking them into the summer term. Eight hours are allowed for the Externally Set Assignment for AS at the end of the course. In this first year it is expected that students will work constantly on their own projects pushing them into a direction that interests them while fulfilling the criteria of the course.
The A2 course builds on the experience of the previous year but students are expected to develop their own projects in more depth and in their own way with the support of the teacher. At this higher level students begin researching in the summer and then complete a written Personal Study project that is generated from the students own concerns or interest within their own practical coursework project. In the spring term the Externally Set Assignment begins, culminating in the summer term and an exhibition of the work to celebrate their achievements.
The course is a much valued and creative course within the Art and Design Department. The facilities include a darkroom, Apple Mac computers, lighting and backdrop studio equipment and much more. A level photography is an environment where the students take control of their own work but are supported in a nurturing and stimulating environment.
Miss Hayley Troughton, BA, Art and Photography
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