Art & Photography – Visual Arts

Curriculum Intent

We believe that all learners are entitled to access high quality visual arts education. The visual arts inspire knowledge, appreciation, and creation of culture. Cultural experiences that broaden an individual’s experience are a basic human right that is fundamental to human dignity and identity as well as promoting social justice and participation within contemporary societies. Visual art is a very powerful tool.  

The Visual Arts are fundamental to expression in addition to playing a significant role in the existence and character of being human. Learning in Visual Arts enables students to realise that everything they encounter has been designed and made by someone, whose design is initially manifested on paper with pencil. Our aim is for learners to explore and visualise the breadth of the subject and to recognise the value of Visual Arts for its aesthetic and well-being qualities.  

The Visual Arts curriculum develops learners’ ability to think critically and imaginatively, is systematic in the creative process, nurtures artistic behaviours, and is tailored to combine ‘making’ alongside developing a rich knowledge of the arts and the artists who created them. Moreover, the curriculum has been designed as such to develop and place emphasis on visual literacy and aesthetic assessment.   

Our aim is for learners to: 

  • Take personal responsibility for their creative intentions and show mastery across a range of technical skills and media 
  • Be exposed to, and impart knowledge of, significant historical and contemporary artists and craftspeople 
  • Realise the relevance of the visual arts within a contemporary society.  
  • Recognise their artistic potential and that the visual arts is inclusive 
  • Be inquisitive, collaborative, imaginative, persistent, and disciplined. These are our habits of mind that encourage students to behave and think like artists 
  • Have the courage to take creative risks
  • Be resilient and allow for mistakes
  • Show self-discipline and ambition when generating ideas
  • Be honest through critique and evaluation
  • Be able to understand themselves, be expressive, explore and experiment to make sense of the world around them, and to be visually literate, curious learners.  


In Photography last year, 59.3% of students achieved grades 9 to 5; and 83.3% achieved grades 9 to 4.

In Art last year, 54.1% of students achieved grades 9 to 5; and 73% achieved grades 9 to 4.

What we study – Topic Overview

 Term 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
Year 7Baseline assessmentMechanical formsMechanical formsMechanical formsStill-life/VanitasStill-life/Vanitas
Year 8Day of the DeadDay of the DeadFood projectFood projectLandscapeLandscape
Year 9 ArchitectureArchitectureArchitectureDistorted human figureDistorted human FigureDistorted human Figure
Year 10 – Fine ArtSkills workshopsProject 1Project 1Project 1Skills workshopsProject 2
Year 11 – Fine ArtProject 2 (Detail)Project 2ESAESAESA 
Year 10 – PhotographySkills workshopsProject 1Project 1Project 1Skills workshopsProject 2
Year 11 – PhotographyProject 2Project 2ESAESAESA 

How we assess

Assessment in Visual Arts is holistic at KS3 and 4 with the whole product from start to finish being the measure of a student’s ability. This typically takes the form of sketchbook-based project work in addition to final pieces. In KS3, students’ work is looked at as a whole against the Habits of Mind criteria. The Habits of Mind are designed to consider the demonstration of artistic behaviours: inquisitiveness, collaboration, persistence, application of disciplines, and imagination. The assessment model in KS3 is designed as a prerequisite for GCSE level study where students are assessed against 4 objects; AO1: develop an idea through investigations, AO2: refine an idea through purposeful experimentation, AO3: record ideas and insights, AO4: present a personal and informed outcome.

All students will study Art throughout Years 7 and 8 at The Dorcan Academy and may choose to continue to follow through to GCSE. 

In Year 7 and 8, all students have 2 lessons a fortnight. In Year 9 students, that have selected to specialise in Art will receive 4 lessons a fortnight.

Students in Year 10 and 11 that select Art as an option subject will receive 5 lessons a fortnight. 

Meet the team

Mr Peter Corkish – Head of Art and Head of Osprey house

Ms Natasha Dorman – Teacher of Visual Arts

Mr Chris Holland – Teacher of Visual Arts and Design Technology

Curriculum Allocation

Students may choose Art or Photography as an option at GCSE and will receive 5 lessons a fortnight.

Enrichment Opportunities

We offer two Art Clubs as extracurricular activities on a Tuesday and Thursday.

GCSE Art and Photography have access to the department Tuesday, Thursday, Friday each week.

The Dorcan Academy
St. Paul’s Drive
Covingham, Swindon
Wiltshire SN3 5DA
Switchboard: 01793 525231
Fax: 01793 431461
The Dorcan Academy is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales under company number 07831414. The registered office is St. Paul’s Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN3 5DA.