GCSE Art & Design


The Art Department at Ashbourne College offers a diverse range of disciplines and working approaches for GCSE students – and allows the opportunity to work in a variety of both two- and three-dimensional materials, including studies in Fine Art, Graphic Communication, Textile Design and Photography and lens-based media. The Department is structured around the acquisition and building of practical and technical skills as well as the integration and contextualization of art appreciation, based on a careful balance of research and practice.

Students will get the opportunity to visit a number of leading London art Galleries and museums, including the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Art, in order to develop students’ critical thinking in response to a range of art and artists.

Art is all around us – from the buildings we live and work in to the clothes we wear or the cups we drink out of. Students will get the opportunity to explore a variety of processes within Art and Design and discover and develop their strengths and leanings accordingly, allowing a more personal and individual visual means for the expression of their ideas and interests.

All tutors within the Art Department are professional practitioners and work together to encourage their students to experiment with materials, gain in confidence, and to push beyond their boundaries to discover their own creative expression for their ideas.

Why study Art at GCSE?

A study of Art and Design at GCSE is the ideal basis to progress onto the full two-year A-level course of study that will ultimately lead to University and Higher Education placement, which can then subsequently open up a diverse number of Art and Design careers. Whichever artistic discipline students elect to study, there is a particular emphasis on drawing skills, but students are introduced to a range of materials, media, processes and working methods. Anyone wishing to pursue a career in Art and Design will require the practical techniques taught and developed on this course.

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the EDEXCEL specification for GCSE Art and Design.

How many components are there?

There are two components in total.

Component 1Component 2

Personal Portfolio

The year begins by building the coursework portfolio unit made up from practical studio work and a personal project supported by sketchbook development. The portfolio will be produced under controlled conditions and consist of approximately 45 hours supervised activity.

72 marks, 60% of GCSE

Externally Set Assignment

The externally set unit normally is released at the beginning of January and students will have to fulfill the requirements in 10 hours of sustained and supervised work under examination conditions, which have to take place in a maximum of four sessions over 3 weeks.

72 marks, 40% of GCSE

How is each unit examined?

Both units are marked and assessed internally and moderated externally – 60% weighting for unit 1, and 40% for unit 2

When do the exams take place?

GCSE Art exams usually take place in June

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

The Art Department staff consists of four specialist artists and designers:

Spoiler title
Jak Kirby
BA (Silapakorn University, Thailand) Photography, Graphics
Sheila Cosgrove
BA Hons (Chelsea College of Art), CFA (Ruskin School of drawing, Oxford University), BSc Design (University of Cincinnati, USA), Fashion Illustration (School of Visual Art, NYC, USA) Art, Fashion
Joanna Kay
BA Painting (Camberwell College of Arts, University of Arts London), QTS

Beyond GCSE for Art Students

Students may wish to progress onto the two-year A-level Art and Design course, and then subsequently onto Higher Education study – either on a Foundation Course in Art and Design or a University Degree Course in a selected pathway of their choice.

There are many career opportunities: they can include product design, fashion, illustration, animation, interior design, jewellery, furniture, set design, painting, sculpting, printmaking, to name just a few! New technologies are creating a whole new range of courses and careers in which art is being used in innovative and exciting ways.


The Complete Guide to Painting and Drawing Techniques and Materials, by Colin Hayes

The 20th Century Art Book, by Susannah Lawson

Visual Arts in the 20th Century, by Edward Lucie-Smith