We begin Art education at Tring School with a very practical course, intended to teach students how to use the many materials available to artists in a competent and confident way. We hope the skills embedded at Key Stage 3 will inform the work of students who take Art to A Level. We endeavour to make Art exciting, interesting, challenging and surprising. Our teachers are very experienced, well-informed and practitioners in their own right. Their many and varied experiences are often used as starting points for projects; pottery, sculpture, print and photography projects have been taught by the highly skilled teaching staff.
The Art Department at Tring is furnished with a working Pottery for Ceramic projects. We have a small kiln, used for experimental work and a larger kiln for outsized pieces. There is also a dark room including all that is required to produce film and digital pictures. Our Art technician plays a vital role in supporting the team and the students from all Key Stages.
Key Stage 3
The KS3 course at Tring School is a traditional one. Emphasis is placed on learning about the formal elements and demonstrating an understanding of them. Each project is aimed at teaching students the importance of drawing from direct observation, and this is the starting point for each body of work.
Projects are designed to introduce our students to a wide range of artists, themes and topics, and we encourage them to use the world around them as inspiration. Students are given the opportunity to experiment with a wide range of materials, from painting to mixed media work, from ceramics to printing. Sketchbooks are used to explore ideas, techniques and materials and the skills developed throughout a project enable our students to produce exciting, individual and unique outcomes. During year 7 and 8 students will focus on developing their skills in and understanding of the formal elements; in Year 9 they will undertake GCSE style projects, applying their knowledge to more complex projects and addressing a higher level of assessment criteria.
The Art Department is a safe and positive learning environment which allows our students to feel that they can challenge themselves, they can be creative and experimental in their work and comfortable discussing and showing their outcomes. Our students develop artistic confidence and many go on to study Art at GCSE.
All Key Stage 3 classes are mixed ability groups.
Key Stage 4 – GCSE Art, Craft and Design
The GCSE course has two parts; the coursework produced over two years, and the Externally Set Assignment performed at the end of the two years.
The coursework material, in the form of sketchbooks and finished pieces of work, are produced in school, supported by substantial homework’s. The coursework is arranged into projects undertaken across the two years. Each project is a response to a specific theme and it is hoped that students learn to develop their own ideas, practical skills and outcomes during the course.
The main focus throughout the course is drawing from observation which usually leads to a variety of developments in two and three dimensional work accompanied by references to artists, art movements and cultures. Students are given the opportunity to attend two art trips, one in Year 10 and the second in Year 11. In the past we have taken students to The Pitt Rivers Anthropological Museum and The Ashmolean in Oxford, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Royal Academy. Students are also encouraged to visit local galleries as part of homework. Students are encouraged to use what is at hand to develop their knowledge and understanding of, and practical ability with, the formal elements of composition, tone, form, line and colour. Landscapes, buildings, natural forms and people are typical subjects studied for GCSE Art, Craft and Design.
The Externally Set Assignment takes place during the Spring Term in Year 11. After the preparatory period students take a 10 hour exam in which a finished piece of work, either 2D or 3D, is produced. The exam is a response to an externally set theme and is marked internally, together with the coursework. Work is then moderated by an examiner from Edexcel. Students’ overall work is displayed in an end of course show, which parents, friends and other visitors attend.
Any student who is considering taking Art at A level must have studied Art to GCSE level.
Key Stage 5 – A Level Art and Design
Sixth Form Art emphasises the ability to draw well from life, in order to realise complex and extraordinary ideas. Without well-developed skills in the formal elements fantastic ideas cannot come to fruition.
Students will have the opportunity for learning outside the classroom. A Study Tour to Paris one year allows students to visit the galleries, draw from their collections and gather visual resources to take back to the classroom; the following year a drawing tour to a coastal town in Britain allows students to develop drawing skills ‘en plein air’ and to work from an unfamiliar landscape. Both these opportunities play a part in developing skills, experiences and ideas. As well as these trips students are encouraged to visit both National and local galleries, either with or without the Art tutors.
The A Level course has two parts. Unit 1, the Personal Project is intended to form the basis on which students develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in creating a rich visual language within the context of selected ideas. Ideas provide the starting point for art and design practice, forming an integral part of the creative process and lie at the heart of the assessment for Art A level.
In Year 12 students will be expected to build on and develop their recording skills. In developing these skills students will experiment with a wide range of media and methods, learning how to transform and manipulate materials in order to reflect the different qualities of their observed forms and images.
In the second students undertake their Personal Investigation; a body of practical work and a written personal study. Students consolidate their skills and must produce a coherent and complex body of work supported by a written document. Students will identify an area for study and will pursue their own creative and visual ideas in their chosen area of art, craft and design. Students will demonstrate the ability to resolve issues and ideas that emerge as an inevitable part of the process of creating art work.
Units 2 is the Externally Set Assignment. The students receive the ESA in January and work through ideas for the timed test with guidance from the teaching staff.
A Level Photography
The Photography course follows the same principals as the Art and Design A Level. The focus throughout the course is on developing skills, learning how to take good photographs, and gaining a coherent understanding of both film and digital photography. Although students can use editing software we try to encourage them away from mindless button pushing. We would rather our students learnt to take excellent photographs in the first instance. The dark room is integral to this learning process, as is an ability to be self motivated and curious about the world around them.
Tring School Art Department has hosted a range of enrichment activities, with the local primary schools and with other secondary schools in Hertfordshire. We work closely with Tring Park Arts Society and have run projects in conjunction with them and Tring Natural History Museum. A Level work has been shown at The Mall Gallery in London as part of the National Students Art Exhibition, and we have also had work shown at the Burger King Head Office. Students from Tring Park Performing Arts School attended a ‘Film Camera and Darkroom’ training day with us recently.
Extended Learning Days are always busy for the Art Department and excellent opportunities for cross curricular work. Collaborative work with Drama and Music has been very successful in the past and we are developing close ties with Science.
Pottery Club is one of the most popular lunchtime extra curricular activities and often has a waiting list. Sixth Form Art students run the Art Club for KS3 students and we are hoping that some of our Photography students will organise a Photography Club and teach some younger students how to develop a film without using a computer.