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La Retraithe Sixth Form

Art and Design

Studying Art and Design at the La Retraite 6

Exam Board: AQA Art and Design. Students can specialise in Fine Art or Textiles.

Entry Criteria: GCSE Level 6 Art and Design, with exceptions for strong portfolios. If students have not studied Art and Design at GCSE, they must present a portfolio of artwork which must show a good level of drawing skill to be accepted.

Why study this course?

Art is a discipline not a subject. It is a way of looking at the world around us, of asking questions and developing ideas.  Art is a cultural and visual history of ourselves, a reflection of society – therefore, looking at Art helps students to question their own lives and futures.

Studying an art-based subject at A level supports students to understand and embrace the visual world in which we live by learning through making. We encourage students to broaden both their practical skills and contextual analysis through a rigorous programme of study.   

What will I learn?

At the beginning of Year 12, students will complete a taster project, which will involve a series of creative workshops. Students will be introduced to an array of artists and designers both past and present and learn how to critique art work both in verbal and written format. Students will learn about cultural, social, environmental, historical, and political issues throughout time and how they are perceived through art and design. The topics covered are stimulating and demanding and the course is highly valued by universities and involve engaging with challenging contextual ideas and sophisticated resolutions. 

Students will learn a wide variety of art and/or textile techniques and processes using a range of media and materials. Students will familiarise themselves with the 4 Assessment objectives. This is designed to equip students with the skills, knowledge and understanding relevant to their chosen subject specialism and foster creative independence.


In the Spring Term of year 12, students embark on their independent, creative journey completing a personal investigation as part of Component 1. Students will select a theme/concept with personal meaning to research and respond to against the 4 assessment objectives. Students will present their findings in sketchbook format alongside their final piece(s). Students will support their practical coursework with a 1000 – 3000-word critical essay.

Students will visit exhibitions and galleries, as part of their investigations to gain inspiration for their own projects and provide opportunities for observational drawings and photographs relevant to their focus theme. 

In the February of Year 13, students will be issued with an exam paper, set by the exam board AQA. Students will focus on 1 exam question to complete research in preparation for a 15-hour practical exam to be sat in May.

How will I be taught?

Students will be taught by Creative professionals. Students have 3 double lessons of Art/Textiles per week. Teaching is predominately practical underpinned by discourse making the courses accessible to a range of learning styles, as well as supportive of the students’ ability to make meaningful artefacts.   

We aim to enable students to develop critical thinking skills, sophisticated resolutions and foster independent practice in preparation for higher education and the work place.

How many hours a week of private study are recommended?

Students are expected to complete 6 hours’ worth of independent learning in their own self-directed time.

The Creative Arts department offer support sessions for sixth formers, which allows students access to materials, resources, and equipment that they may not have available at home, in order to complete work to a high standard.

You’ll enjoy this course if…

You are interested in pursuing a career within a creative industry such as fashion, photography, fine art, architecture, interior design, advertising, illustration, graphics, games design and art therapy.

It is possible to combine academic studies with a creative course.  If you demonstrate creative flair or simply enjoy being creative and are motivated by the practical elements of the course and exam and have a deep passion for and commitment to the Arts, then this is the course for you.

Course description

We follow the AQA Art and Design specification for Textiles and Fine Art at A Level.

The course is divided into two components:

  • Component 1 includes a personal investigation into a theme/concept of the student’s choice. It is marked out of 96 and makes up 60% of the final grade.
  • Component 2 includes the externally set exam, which is practical and 15 hours long. It is marked out of 96 and makes up 40% of the final grade.


Students are assessed against the AQA assessment criteria which comprises of four assessment objectives. Each assessment objective is marked out of 24.

AO1:  Developing Ideas (Mind maps/Artist and Designer Contextual Research) 

AO2:  Experimenting (Different materials/processes)   

AO3:  Recording (Drawing, Photography, Presentation) 

AO4:  Present (Final outcome – Fine Art, Fashion or Textile based)