Students follow a teacher–led programme until October half term. Through a series of tasks and exercises they develop technical skills in relation to the use of a camera (shutter speed, apertures, depth of field, iso, etc.) and digital image processing (layering, curves, dodging, burning, etc.). They also develop a greater understanding of the formal elements of visual language (colour, shape, line tone, texture and composition) and how these can be applied effectively in their image making. As well as practical skills, students also develop their critical understanding of the work of photographers by applying rigorous methods of analysis and interpretation. Students are guided in their understanding of the A level assessment criteria with its emphases on development, experimentation, recording and realisation. They also develop research and presentation skills so that they can effectively tackle the more independently driven work that commences after the autumn half term.
From November until February students embark on a thematic project which allows them to explore and develop ideas in portrait, still life, or landscape genres, or a combination of these. Students may choose to work in fine art and/or commercial contexts as appropriate. The development of this work will culminate in a number of photographic outcomes. During this period student’s work is tracked and monitored to ensure that in preparatory stages the assessment criteria are effectively addressed.
In January the AS examination paper is issued and students begin to develop and explore ideas in response to a given theme. Again work is tracked and monitored by the department to ensure that in these preparatory stages the assessment criteria are effectively addressed. This work prepares students for an 10 hour exam in which students compile and present responses.
The year commences in June after the AS exam are completed. During this ‘summer plan’ period students tackle a series of teacher-led exercises based on the theme of ‘Viewpoints’, which allow students to work in portrait, still-life and landscape genres. During this period, students begin to devise personal projects that they will continue over the summer holidays and during which time they produce at least one sustained photographic sequence.
In the autumn term students continue to develop personal themes and ideas and to devise a suitable topic for their personal study. This 3000 word essay explores an aspect of photography that relates to their practical enquiries. As well as preparatory work that demonstrates development, experimentation and recording students will also be working on realised, sustained photographic work that they will exhibit at an end of year show in December.
Students will complete their personal studies during the Christmas holidays and finalise their coursework submissions during the period between the start of the spring term and February when they will be given the A2 exam paper. As with AS, students develop and explore ideas in response to a given theme. Again this work is tracked and monitored by the department. This preparatory work culminates in a 15 hour exam during which time students compile and present responses.