Welcome to the Art Department

Departmental Courses

  • GCSE Art & Design (Art, Craft & Design - AQA)
  • GCE AS Art & Design (Fine Art - AQA)
  • GCE AS Art & Design (Photography - AQA)

We believe that all pupils are able to enhance and enrich their understanding of themselves and their world through the creation and appreciation of the visual arts, crafts and design.

We aim to provide our students with the skills, inspiration and creativity that they will need to develop as artists, and we hope to engender a love of art that they will take with them into their adult lives.
You can see evidence of the quality of work and talent we foster in the galleries below, and find out more about the department lower down.

Who do I contact for more information?

Mr P Mathlin (HeadofArt@poolehigh.poole.sch.uk)

At Key Stage 3, we aim to provide a series of stimulating projects which provide our students with opportunities to explore new materials and techniques, whilst developing knowledge and understanding.

In year 7, they build the foundation skills in the formal elements of line, tone, colour, shape, pattern, texture and form.  There is an emphasis on developing a range of drawing techniques that underpin visual communication. 

In Year 8, students increase their 3D skills through the design and construction of a ceramic outcome that is inspired by organic forms.  They also learn about how designers take their influences from a range of cultural sources which leads them to design and create packaging for a product. 

Year 9 students complete a project in which they research a range of historical and contemporary styles before producing a personal response based on their local landscape. 

Art – GCSE Art and Design

Why study Art and Design?

Studying the GCSE Art and Design course at Poole High School will provide you with an opportunity to develop your 2D skills such as drawing, painting and printmaking as well as 3D skills including sculpture and ceramics. You will also learn how to develop your ICT skills to create and manipulate digital imagery using computer software.

The course will allow you to learn how to develop and refine your creative ideas through the use of first-hand observations, experiments with media and processes and by learning about the work of other artists and craftspeople.
Topics include:

  • a coursework unit based upon observations of the world around us and leading to a personal and unique final outcome
  • a project that is inspired by the art from another culture and leads to ceramic and print-based outcomes


  1. portfolio of coursework (60% of overall grade)
  2. externally set assignment- a 10-hour practical exam (40% of overall grade)

Which students do well at Art and Design?

  • …those who love creating art and craft
  • …those who enjoy learning about art and craft from their own and others' cultures
  • …those who are interested in communicating and expressing themselves visually

Who do I contact for more information?

Mr P Mathlin (p.mathlin@poolehigh.poole.sch.uk)


GCE Art & Design (Fine Art - AQA)

Year 12

The first year of the course is foundational and students learn to explore the formal elements of visual art in greater depth. They will also gain a stronger understanding of the ways in which artists draw upon the history of art and the work of contemporary artists for inspiration. During the first year, we encourage our students to question their assumptions about what art can be and to challenge their current ways of working in order to move beyond their comfort zone and develop new skills and approaches.

Year 13

During the second year of the course, students are asked to choose a subject that will form the basis of their ‘Personal Investigation’. This unit challenges students to research, plan and manage their own coursework project, and is a stepping stone to the skills required for higher education. The outcomes will include 1000 to 3000 word written component and original artwork that shows the student’s response to their chosen theme. The work in the second year of the A level should include the application of the skills, knowledge and understanding that were gained in the first year. The course ends with a 15-hour practical exam (conducted over 3 school days) that the students prepare for over a number of weeks.


The final grade is based on the student’s coursework (usually based upon the portfolio produced in year 2) which is worth 60% and the externally set assignment (15-hour exam) which is worth 40% of the overall grade.

GCE Art & Design (Photography - AQA)

By studying A level Photography at Poole High School, you will learn the technical skills required to produce photographs to a high standard.  You will also develop the knowledge and understanding needed to enable you to construct images with visual meaning and the power to communicate your ideas about the world. You will learn about the history of photography and the ways in which this art form has contributed to our visual culture. On this course, you will learn how to develop and explore your ideas through observations of the world around you, experiment with a range of techniques and processes and respond to the work of others. This very popular course will deepen your appreciation of the visual world and help you to achieve the technical skills to respond to it in a creative way.

Year 12

In the first year of the course, students learn how to use the technical potential of their cameras. Exploring techniques such as composition, lighting and digital editing whilst working in genres including portraiture, still life and landscape creates a solid platform upon which to build in the second year of the course. 

Year 13

Unit 3  - Personal Investigation. This unit is an opportunity for the student to carry out their own research into an area of photography that is of interest to them leading to a practical personal response. This unit also involves the production of a written submission of between 1000 and 3000 words that clarifies the theme of the investigation, demonstrates the candidate’s critical and contextual understanding of their chosen topic and records the conclusions to their enquiry.

Unit 4  - Externally Set Assignment. This is similar to unit 2 at AS but this time there are eight starting points and the final supervised time in which the candidates produce their final response is 15 hours.


The final grade is based on the student’s coursework (usually based upon the portfolio produced in year 2) which is worth 60% and the externally set assignment (15 hour exam) which is worth 40% of the overall grade.


The creative industries contributed a record £91.8bn to the UK economy in 2016, which was more than twice the growth rate for the rest of the nation’s industries (source: CIC-Creative Industries Council). Many of our students progress onto a Foundation Course at the Arts University Bournemouth before studying a visual arts degree. Former students have gone on to work as artists, teachers, animators and social entrepreneurs.

Many of the students who study A level Photography at Poole High School go on to study the subject at degree level. There are opportunities within higher education to specialise in such disciplines as documentary, food, commercial photography and photojournalism. Many of our former students have worked in photography upon graduation in areas that include freelance photography, marketing and commercial photography.