Curriculum Intent

In Graphics students explore visual communication through brief based projects, developing solutions to real world problems using creative and imaginative practices.

In Graphics, we aim to develop students’ creativity, independence and cultural capital. We equip them with the practical skills and critical understanding of the context of graphic artworks so that they can effectively use visual language.

We employ a range of pedagogical approaches and support to address the needs of all students, adapting our curriculum to meet their needs so they can effectively explore their world and fully realising their creative potential. We succeed in doing this by providing every student with a safe space to explore their creativity and individuality. We have a rich and broad curriculum investigating practitioners from a range of cultures that explore a variety of styles and themes from the Keystone year all the way to A Level. 

We explore Graphics connections throughout society especially it links to literature, Media and Art. We focus on evolving students’ creative thinking skills so that they can develop, experiment and record their observations, reflecting in a meaning full way on their work. We understand that there are a broad range of pathways linked to the creative industries but aim to give students the skills so that they are prepared for the next stage of their life.

Keystone Year: Year 9

In the Keystone year students undertake a creative arts rotation where they undertake a course in Graphics

Students’ knowledge and skills will be further refined as they explore how to develop ideas, experiment materials and refine final starting to develop their independence and own style. They will also learn new skills as they undertake the Graphics rotation exploring digital and design processes.


Book Design Project

In Graphics Design students undertake a project that is designed to run like a mini-GCSE project to firstly help challenge and stretch the students’ skills, but also giving them an understanding of how the GCSE course will run.

Students will:

  • Design a book cover. There will be a choice of different covers from book they have studied in English.
  • Explore the work of Dave McKean gaining an understanding of how artists can take inspiration from a range of sources - using Thinking Hard strategies’
  • Engage with a range of extracts from the books to help inspire their work.
  • Create visual maps to explore ideas for book covers
  • Gather a range of suitable sources to work from.
  • Experiment with a range of analogue materials developing and building on their skills and understanding from year 7 and 8.
  • Explore the design process in Graphics, creating a mock version of their cover.
  • Digitise their designs and explore Adobe illustrator and photoshop, refining their final covers and realising their outcomes

GCSE: Years 10 and 11

Exam Board: AQA

Year 10

In Year 10 students will start their coursework portfolio (worth 60% of the final mark). Students will undertake two coursework projects in Year 10. There is a focus on students using their own time effectively working on projects at home or in afterschool sessions.  Throughout the course students are assessed using the AQA Art Assessment Matrix, focusing on the 4 Assessment Objectives Develop, Refine, Record and Present.

The knowledge and understanding students have gained and developed over their first three years at OPGS will give them a strong foundation to build on and refine at GCSE. Students will continue to refine their abilities in a range of materials while exploring set projects. They will also learn how to develop their own ideas through experimentation and exploration, developing their own personal style and independence as they create exciting final pieces in their chosen mediums.


Food and Drink Project

In Year 10 students will start their coursework portfolio (worth 60% of the final mark). Students first project in year 10 will be to develop advertising material for a food and drink company. During this project they can decide on the type of company they wish to create so that the project is independent and personal allowing them to create a passionate response.

  • At the start of the course, we aim to help students develop a variety of skills across a range of different disciplines this include both analogue and digital processes.
  • Students start by reinforcing and developing their analogue art skills they learnt in the foundation and keystone years.
  • They start by refining and developing a good knowledge of observational drawing from primary and secondary sources, building their understanding and confidence.
  • We also reinforce the formal elements making sure students are proficient in using shape, form, line and tone to create refined final drawings.
  • Students also explore new processes in a wider range of materials that students can use to develop and refine their projects this includes:
        • Drawing and painting materials
        • Photography
        • Printmaking
  • Students are then taught how to utilise Illustrator and Photoshop in their projects.
  • This includes using Illustrator to create digital drawings of their work and refine their analogue designs.
  • Students learn how to use Photoshop to manipulate photographs, create colour tests, patterns, and the design final products for their projects.
  • Students learn how to use digital processes side by side analogue process moving from one to the other to create rich textured and exciting projects.
  • Students are introduced to artists and designers that will help them develop their ideas and add to their knowledge of Graphic Design. This should help inspire students, while also giving them the tools and opportunities to search out designers that they are passionate about.
  • Students learn how to analyse Designers’ work – using Thinking Hard strategies so they can understand how Graphic Designers use various techniques to create visually relevant and exciting designs for audiences and how students can be inspired by these.
  • This foundation gives students a firm start on which to build their first project but also their skills for the next two years so they can be successful young Graphic Designers.
  • As students refine their skills they will engage in the design process, experimenting with font, background, colour and composition to explore and develop their ideas. This will take place in both analogue materials and in digital materials
  • As students’ progress they will produce final pieces, for their project this might include logos, menus, wall art, uniforms, and advertising materials.


Music Project

The Second project students will undertake will be the Music project, here students will continue to refine and develop their skills and use of materials exploring how portraiture can be used in Graphic Design.

Students will:

  • Explore and refine their skills in a range of media and techniques to help them develop their own style and path as a Graphics designer. We understand that being a Graphic designer is not just about traditional art methods, and we give students the ability to explore a range of materials and ideas so that they can effectively achieve the best possible results. This includes Photography, drawing, printmaking, painting, digital processes and 3D
  • Explore a range of artist’s and designer’s work, using it to inspire and refine their own style of working, while also exploring the wider issues in their work.
  • Students refine and hone the skills and knowledge they have developed, but also learn to better understand where their own strengths lie.
  • Undertake longer more in-depth tasks where they continue to explore and refine their use of fine art materials and learn how to develop their own ideas more fully, along with researching and analysing artists and their own work. 
  • Final pieces they might design could include album covers, posters, and merchandise.

Year 11

In Year 11, students will continue to develop their coursework portfolio (worth 60% of their final grade) which encompasses their Year 10 projects, culminating in an impressive final piece for their Pre public Exam.


Exam project

  • Students end the course undertaking The Externally Set Assessment (worth 40% of the final mark) which is a selection of exam questions set by AQA (at the beginning of January). with the support of teaching staff
  • Students must pick one title from the exam paper
  • Produce preparatory work for the exam using the resources and materials they have mastered over the last two years. This will include
      • Completing artist research
      • Showing idea development- through mind maps
      • Experimenting with materials and ideas
      • Devising final pieces and testing ideas
      • Presenting and annotating all work.
  • Complete a range of final pieces in the 10-hour exam

A Level: Years 12 and 13

Exam Board: AQA

The A level Art course comprises of two parts:

  • A Personal investigation (which includes 2 projects and is worth 60% of their final mark) 
  • Externally Set assignment (Which is worth 40% of the final marks).

Year 12

In Year 12 students will develop 1 Project over the year. There will be continual assessment throughout course using the exam boards’ assessment objectives – Develop, Refine, Present and Record.  Students will also be expected to investigate galleries independently in their free time to further their projects and gain better understanding of artist’s work.

  • Personal Investigation
    • Students will start the curse refining their understanding of a range of art techniques and exploring new materials so that they have a confident skill level and knowledge to pull from when exploring their chosen themes.
  • In Year 12 students will undertake the Personal Investigation, this takes the form of one project.
  • Students can independently decide on their personal briefs for each project with support from the teaching staff.
  • There are no restrictions on the paths that may be followed if the syllabus objectives are addressed as part of the process.
  • During this time students will use the skills and knowledge they have acquired from Year 7 to year 11 and further refine and develop these skills to confidently realise their intentions.
  • In both projects, students learn to show their development of ideas. This includes an ability to research a range of artists and designers’ work, analysing their processes and using the knowledge gained to influence and inspire their own work.
  • Students also refine the ability to experiment with a range of ideas and materials that are appropriate to their chosen theme, reviewing and refining their work purposefully. Students will practice and refine their skills with previously explored materials but also explore new materials and ways of working.
  • Students further develop their ability to record their ideas and reflect critically on their work and progress. They will have the chance to refine their current skill set and develop new skills depending on their project.
  • Finally, they must have the ability to create a personal and imaginative final realisation that makes connections between their work and other artists. Student’s practical outcomes can take the form of a range of final realisations that can include paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography, textiles, multimedia pieces and digital work.
  • Students will be expected to produce high quantity and quality work during the course
  • The practical aspect of the course is complimented written analysis of artists and their work focusing on the wider issues they explore. The students will also learn to show a high level of critical analysis when discussing their own work explaining their themes in a mature and creative manner.
  • During the project alongside their practical responses’ students will also tackle a 3000-word essay that explores the students chosen practical themes from an analytical viewpoint.
  • Students will be expected to devise a title for the essay based on their second project.
  • From this point, they must complete in-depth research on their topic and then write an essay that shows their understanding of the artists and the themes from their research.

Year 13

At the start of Year 13 when students are at the apex of their skill level, they will continue to develop their Personal Investigation (worth 60% of their final grade) which encompasses their Year 12 projects culminating in an impressive final piece for their Pre public Exam.

In February, they will be handed their Externally Set Assignment which is worth 40% of their final grade and is set by the exam board

  • Externally Set Assignment
  • The Externally Set Assignment is a response to topics given by the Examining Board. The papers are issued in early February and students have until mid-May to finalise their responses.
  • During this preparatory period, students are to complete a range of investigations and developments including experimentations with ideas and materials, exploration into artist and contextual studies, good quality recording from observation and critical analyse of their own work.
  • This should allow students to produce a high quantity of preparatory work while at the same time developing the quality of their work. These studies should help the students devise a final piece for the exam and should be presented and annotated in sketchbooks or sheets.

Students must then complete a 15-hour examination final piece under examination conditions. At the end of the exam all work must be submitted for final assessment