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St Peter's 13-18

Art & Design

Stpeters27thSept 71

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the whole world stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution…”

Albert Einstein

Art and Design within St Peter’s forms a very vibrant and exciting part of the School and is at the heart of providing a holistic and relevant education. With outstanding facilities, including large drawing and painting studios, printmaking facilities (relief, intaglio and screenprinting), photographic darkroom, ceramics studio and extensive Art library and computer suite, there are very few creative experiences that we can’t offer our pupils. In addition, the Department also houses the Whitestone Gallery where up to seven exhibitions are held every year, showcasing the work of professional artists, local schools, institutes of higher education and of course our own pupils. The ability to show the pupils’ work within the same space as ‘real’ artists validates the pupils’ work and places it very much within a wider artistic context.

You can view all the A Level and GCSE pieces from the 2020-21 end-of-year exhibition here.

Joe Lawrence Charlotte Hopwood

We are fundamentally a Fine Art Department, and all the teachers are practising and exhibiting artists. We believe that a Fine Art background provides pupils with the broadest and most relevant foundation to move forward with their artistic aspirations, providing them with the necessary observational and practical skills to specialise later in their careers. Drawing in all its representational and abstract forms is at the heart of everything we do, as we see it as a very necessary way of communicating our experience of the world.

All pupils take Art in the Third Form and their experience within this year will give them a taste of what GCSE (and later A Level) will offer them. An exhibition in January showcases their work and helps inform their GCSE decisions.


At St Peter’s School we follow the OCR GCSE Art and Design Course (Fine Art).

Abbey WhiteComponent 1: Portfolio – A sustained project developed in response to a subject, theme, task or brief evidencing the journey from initial engagement with an idea(s) to the realisation of intentions (Final Piece). This project is developed in the Fourth Form and brought to conclusion in the Christmas term of the Fifth Form.

Component 2: Externally set assignment – This is an externally set assignment with a number of starting points. Pupils must select and respond to one starting point from their chosen title. Work is developed over a period of time (about 10 weeks) and resolved in supervised time (10 hours).

For both components pupils will develop work in line with the Assessment Objectives, which include addressing the following;-

  • Contextual studies - Pupils look at the work of artists and crafts people from around the world, studying their techniques and themes and making connections with their own work. Trips to galleries and museums in York and further afield are an excellent resource and an opportunity to see Art in the wider context.
  • Developing ideas – Pupils will learn a wide range of Fine Art techniques and skills with which they can begin to develop a creative vocabulary. These include drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, lens-/light-based media, photography and the moving image, printmaking, and mixed media.
  • First hand observation – Pupils will focus on developing observational skills in a range of different media and scales, and will produce a body of first hand observations (drawings and photographs).
  • Completion of a ‘finished piece’ or body of realised work.

Throughout the two-year course, pupils gain a wide number of skills and build their confidence so that by the end of the course, they are producing work that is both individual and highly accomplished.

A Level

The OCR A level in Art and Design (Fine Art) is designed as a continuation of the GCSE course. The specification is designed to encourage learners to develop skills, creativity, imagination and independence based on personal experience, taught skills and critical understanding. Learners show this through their responses to a range of stimuli. The aims and learning outcomes for these qualifications are to enable learners to develop:

  • Intellectual, imaginative, creative and intuitive capabilities
  • Investigative, analytical, experimental, practical, technical and expressive skills, aesthetic understanding and critical judgment
  • Independence of mind in developing, refining and communicating their own ideas, their own intentions and their own personal outcomes
  • The experience of working with a broad range of media
  • An understanding of the interrelationships between art, craft and design processes and an awareness of the contexts in which they operate.

The pupils work towards creating a mature and professional End of Year Exhibition which will reflect the ambition and confidence that they have developed over their time at St Peter’s.

The A level course at St Peter’s is designed to appeal and to be of benefit to those pupils who wish to apply for Art School and university courses in any of the art disciplines and architecture, as well as for those who wish to take the subject simply because they enjoy it but may not wish to take their art further than A level.


At all levels we run trips to galleries both in York and surrounding towns, but also further afield to cities such as London and Paris, providing the pupils with a glimpse of how their studies are relevant to the ‘outside’ world.

Art Club is held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, providing the pupils with the opportunity to access specialised support and individual tuition. The studios are open all day, every day and pupils value time spent in the pupils working on their own projects.

Life Drawing Classes are held in the Christmas and Easter Terms and are a very useful and necessary opportunity for pupils to develop their observational skills.

Marco Masucci

Awards and Prizes

The following awards and prizes are awarded every year.

Senior Prize – For the most outstanding pupil at Upper Sixth level.
Exhibition – For the most dedicated, passionate artist or who has contributed most to the Art School – Upper Sixth.
Junior Prize – For the most outstanding GCSE candidate.
These prizes are occasionally shared.

Annual Themed Postcard Competition – Aligned with our annual themed exhibition we run a Royal Academy-style Postcard Competition for pupils from across all three schools at St. Peter’s and local schools. There are prize-winners across all age categories and the postcards form part of the exhibition.

After St Peter’s

Art and Design is not only a fascinating and fulfilling subject that can be pursued for its own ends, it also imparts many transferable skills much sought after by major universities. For example:

  • Art is a valid subject for the vast majority of university courses
  • Some specialist courses such a medicine now seek candidates who have a creative aspect to their CV
  • Art is not a practical subject only – a large proportion of the marks available are awarded for critical analysis in essay and annotation form

See our Careers page for more information.

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