The Catholic High School


Art & Design

‘Art is not a product arrived at through following directions, copying, or conforming to a given model. Art is not just skill. It is the process of thinking, imagining, risking, seeing connections, inventing, expressing in unique visual form.’

Jean Morman Unsworth, Art Education, Nov. 2001

‘Art lets you express yourself creatively in a way no other subject allows you to,’ Hannah, yr12 


A broad, yet structured course of study within Art & Design education is essential, combining both practical experience and an understanding of the work of others through a range of practical activities and processes.

All groups are taught as mixed ability, where project starting points are neutral in their emphasis, allowing all students the opportunity to shine. 

There are weekly opportunities for students to enjoy extra-curricular Art Club where students can extend classwork or work with others on group pieces.

At KS3 all practical work is planned in project form by the class teacher, and aims to establish the formal elements of Art & Design. The teacher will plan for progression of key concepts and key processes across years 7 - 9, ensuring that logical, sequential learning is evident throughout.

The course followed at GCSE is AQA Art & Design: Fine Art, allowing for a wide range of possible outcomes ranging from traditional Drawing & Painting to Textiles or Lens-based Media. 

At Advanced level, both Fine Art and Photography are offered. The two-year course, consisting of a Personal Investigation component and an Externally Set Assignment, have been designed to ease the transition from GCSE to Advanced level. Students are encouraged to develop independent thought and individual outcomes by exploring a wide range of media, processes and techniques that may involve drawing, painting, photography, fashion, installation work or more. The courses are predominantly practical, yet have supporting Contextual, Historical and Contemporary art appreciation elements underpinning each unit. 

Educational Visits

Art trips and visits are an important part of the Art & Design experience. Our GCSE students have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Welsh coast on the residential, Conway practical art workshops, weekend in the spring term. Our annual trip to London has been pivotal in A’level students’ knowledge and understanding of both Historical and Contemporary Art. Among a range of fantastic venues the Tate Modern is always a ‘must see’ and we take this visit to the capital as a wonderful opportunity for photo shoots, Camden Town being among our favourites. The department has a long legacy of Advanced level students who have taken part in the prestigious ‘Young Artists in Tuscany’ residential study course, in Italy, possibly the greatest visual experience of their lives. Where possible, and practical, trips to Liverpool galleries, the University of Chester, or working on location are also planned. 

 ‘Art drags me away from the realities of life and allows my mind to wander freely,’  Filippa, yr10 

The Art & Design department has sustained a steady 90% or more A* - C grade pass at GCSE, and consistently achieves 100% A*-E grade at Advanced level. We have a successful history of students progressing to higher education, embracing a wide range of Art & Design specialisms that include Fine Art; Fashion; Architecture; Photography; Games Design and Teaching. The class of 2017 has more than 80% heading toward creative futures. 


Miss L.I van der Zwan, MA ‘Creativity and Education for the Professions’; B.A. (Hons) Fine Art: Painting; PGCE Art & Design. Head of Art & Design Miss van der Zwan has been an AS and A’level Art & Design Moderator for AQA, since the introduction of the AS level in 1998.

Mrs A.L Kershaw-Jones, MA ‘Creativity and Education for the Professions’; B.A. (Hons) Art & Design; PGCE Art & Design; Teacher of Art & Design and Photography. Mrs Kershaw-Jones currently leading A’level Photography in the department.

Miss Joanne Blackwell, B.A. (Hons) Textile Crafts, Art & Design Technician 0.5     

‘Art is different for everyone. For me, art is about modern design and how a simple image could represent many stories,’ Gwyneth, yr12 

‘My art is a way in which to explore feelings in a manner I cannot do with words alone,’ Anastasia, yr10