Art Overview

When pupils enter the art department at Cranleigh they are struck by the amazing facilities of the recently refurbished Rhodes Centre. However, it is the committed specialist teaching in painting, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture from active and experienced practitioners that has been the department’s strength in recent years.

We start from the premise that the best art, craft and design comes from an imaginative and thoughtful interpretation of first hand visual experience, informed by an understanding of historical and contemporary practice. Developing skills in the basic visual language of art is increasingly important in a world dominated by the visual, while success in art requires imagination, determination, organisation, creativity, and dedication.

IVth form

The 4th form course is made up of short units allowing pupils to experience the range of specialist areas the department offers. Pupils develop work in painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics. It is often a chance for pupils to rethink their abilities and discover afresh an enthusiasm for creative work. The course should prove enjoyable as well as provide an insight into the skills required for GCSE art and design.


Art at GCSE builds on the knowledge and confidence that will have been gained in the 4th form and earlier. The requirement for success is not technical talent but an enthusiastic and positive attitude. As in other subjects, basic skills, especially drawing, are taught and learned, and with practice improved upon. The course allows work to be developed across a rage of two and three dimensions, informed by the example of other artists, crafts-persons and designers. Skills of problem solving and research, inventive playfulness and critical thinking are required and assessed. Ideas and studies, analysis and thoughtful reflection are all documented in workbooks and ambitious outcomes encouraged and produced. Regular study trips are made to galleries and exhibitions. Pupils are encouraged to spend extra time on their coursework projects, and to this end two activity slots per week per year group are allocated to them, though they may use the studios whenever they wish.

The GCSE consists of two units. The first is a personal portfolio developed over the two years through work in three of our specialist areas. The second, worth 40% of the marks, is an externally set project, the final piece of which, after almost a term of preparatory studies, has to be completed in ten hours. All the work is then marked internally and moderated by an external examiner who views an exhibition of the work in the school.

The GCSE is an enjoyable, informative, highly creative, personal course where pupils achieve high standards and, most importantly, feel proud of their achievements.

Sixth Form Courses – A Level

In the Sixth form we offer the new A level course, and for 2015-16, the AS level as well. The new A level is assessed on work produced over the two years. The course at Cranleigh will be fine art based and provide a structured introduction using a set theme as a starting point. Students will develop work in two of our specialist areas (Ceramics, Painting, Printmaking and Sculpture) before specialising for individual personal projects. Drawing is a fundamental skill in art and design, and in the autumn term a weekly life class for both Upper and Lower Sixth is run, where different approaches can be explored as well as producing work that can support studio practice and entry to further education in art. Sixth form students benefit from dedicated studio spaces and more time for personal tuition so that individual directions and ideas can be pursued. We regularly run trips to galleries in London and aim for a trip to a foreign city once a year. In 2014 we went to Paris and in 2015 we are running a trip to Madrid. We hope to go to New York in 2016.

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a stand alone qualification that is worth about half an A level. It requires students to select their own topic to research and develop in negotiation with their teacher. One approach is to produce an artefact according to their own brief. It requires students to work in their own time and so be self-reliant and motivated. Details can be found in the appendix to the A level Specification. For students who wish to keep practical work going in art while pursuing other A levels this can provide a structure and qualification for their efforts, as well as producing a portfolio that might support entry to higher education courses such as architecture.

Beyond School

Art A level forms part of a good general education, which is accepted as any other A level by universities as part of the UCAS process. Art and design at degree level is normally accessed via a one-year foundation course.

Sixth form artists at Cranleigh have gone on to courses in graphic design, product design, animation and fashion, as well fine art.

For those thinking of studying architecture, art is almost essential as a portfolio of visual work is normally required. The experience of art and design can be useful for those thinking of careers in advertising, marketing, publishing, museums or galleries and work in the media.


James Nairne
Director of Art

July 2015