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“Art develops spiritual values and contributes a wider understanding to the experience of life, which helps to build a balanced personality.”

–Bridget Riley, British Artist 

At Notre Dame we take the subject of Art and Design very seriously, delivering high-quality art education that engages, inspires and challenges students to think for themselves.  We have created a comprehensive programme of study so the girls can build on their creative skills and have confidence to respond visually to their immediate environment and the wider world in which we live.

Key Stage 3

The curriculum for students in years 7 to 9 is carefully designed to enable pupils to:

  • Learn how to draw and paint directly from observation, building on their existing skills.
  • Use a range of artistic materials and techniques to create their own visual responses to given themes.
  • To develop an appreciation for their own work and that of other artists and craftspeople.
  • To evaluate and analyse the work of others using specialist terms and vocabulary.
  • To develop their imagination through experimenting and taking risks in their work.

Key Stage 4 

GCSE Level Art and Design

Examination Board: Edexcel

There are two units of work in the GCSE course:

  • Unit 1 – *Controlled Assessment, 60%
  • Unit 2 –  Externally Set Assignment, 40%

*Controlled Assessment, (formally referred to as coursework), is everything that is created at home and in class, during the whole of Year 10 and the first term of Year 11.  This becomes the student’s portfolio and is worth more than half of the marks in the final GCSE grade. 

The Externally Set Assignment is a theme sent by the exam board, given to the students in the spring term of their final year; this is worth the remaining 40% of their final GCSE grade.

Studio time and support is offered every day before school, and twice weekly after school the department will be open and supervised, so students can make the very most of our facilities, guidance and on-going support.

Subject Content

Year 7


Pupils will be introduced to the   foundation skills of Art and Design,  including perspective, line, colour   mixing, and 3D.  Pupils will draw  inspiration from observing the techniques of historical and contemporary artists, as well as creating work which reflects the beauty of the natural world.


Pupils will continue to build their skills in the areas of painting and drawing and will also be introduced to 3D work. Pupils will either explore natural   and fantasy world influences or learn about West African art and textiles.


Pupils will be introduced to   rules and aesthetic norms of   composition and layout while either creating work with the   themes of ‘Celebrations’ and ‘Natural World’.


Year 8


Some pupils will learn how to draw the human figure and compose portraits while others create drawings, paintings and sculptures focusing on ‘Food’.


Pupils will work on 3D projects, painting and drawing focusing on foundation skills of line and composition using the themes of the ‘Human Form’ and ‘Still Life.’


Some pupils will create 3D work on the theme of ‘Personal Spaces’ with an emphasis on critical study and design planning.  Others will examine the influences of Pop Art, and create packaging using the methods and colour-schemes of consumerist artwork.


Year 9


Pupils will focus on pattern, colour and observational skills, while using collage, print and drawing to showcase these skills.


This term we will encourage our pupils to experiment with different media, pattern and texture, and also critically examine art as a spiritual experience.


Pupils will learn how art can tell stories, even fantastical and dream-like stories by examining the art of Surrealism.  Skills focus on composition and painting and drawing.


GCSE Year 10

GCSE Yr 10 pupils will examine the theme of either ‘Identity’ or ‘Ordinary and Extraordinary’ and personal objects and use various materials and methods to create sketchbook and portfolio works.  This includes printing, 3D modelling, painting and drawing.

Yr 10 will either finish ‘Identity’ project, and begin in-depth research, planning, designing and execution on the theme of either ‘Food and Drink’ or continue with the theme ‘Ordinary and Extraordinary’ with an increased independence in in-depth research, planning, design and execution.

Yr 10 will finish theme of either ‘Food and Drink’ or ‘Ordinary and Extraordinary’ by completing a final outcome for the project.


GCSE Year 11

Yr 11 pupils will engage in a project with the brief of, ‘Past and Present’ and use critical skills to research, plan, design and execute art exploring this theme.


Yr 11 will receive the exam theme and begin in-depth research, planning, designing and execution of the theme, according to the Externally Set Assignment (ESA), using skills they have developed.


Yr 11 will sit the GCSE Art and Design Externally Set Assignment


GCSE Art Exhibition

Here are some images from our annual GCSE Art exhibition, held in the summer term.


GCSE Bitesize