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Art and Design is integral to a young person’s development. We place emphasis on the acquisition of technical skill, sustained research and personal expression. Pupils are encouraged to analyse, solve and evaluate visual and intellectual problems. We aim to help pupils be self motivated, gain confidence and develop initiative through working in a stimulating and fast paced studio environment.

Pupils work in both 2D and 3D, including painting, drawing, printmaking, mixed media, textiles, pottery, ceramics and sculpture. GCSE students follow the OCR syllabus which aims to stimulate imagination, sensitivity, conceptual thinking and powers of observation. In the Sixth Form, pupils are given increasing freedom to make choices and to take responsibility for the direction of their learning.

The outstanding achievements of our examination groups are celebrated in June at our annual GCSE and A Level exhibitions. We also have established a successful programme of exhibitions held annually in central Cambridge and London for our Sixth Form artists to celebrate their work in public. Many of our Upper Sixth artists choose to continue their studies in Art and Design, Art History or Architecture at University.


Over the two years, pupils will cover two units of coursework (60% of marks). The final examination is an early release paper allowing the pupils to have plenty of time to develop extensive preparatory work before the timed examination session of ten hours (40% of marks).

Each unit consists of, and is assessed within, the following areas:

  1. Develop – Investigation, research, development of ideas and analysis of contextual sources.
  2. Explore – Experimentation and use of a wide range of media and techniques.
  3. Record – Observational drawing and recording.
  4. Present – To bring together 1, 2 and 3 into a finished piece.

Working from a single starting point, pupils develop their own direction of study with increasing freedom and variety, resulting in an impressive body of work displayed in an exhibition at the end of the course. Drawing, painting and printmaking form the backbone of the course. Within this, pupils are introduced to a wide variety of techniques including drypoint etching, collagraph, relief printing, transfer printing, screen printing, textile printing, ceramics, sculpture and mixed media.


A Level (OCR)

A Level Art prepares pupils who wish to go on to Higher Education to study the Fine Arts, Fashion, Architecture Art History, Animation or any number of creative fields. It also prepares pupils to access an Art Foundation course or to work in the wider field of Art and related Art and Design practice. The course builds on, but is not dependent upon, the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired at GCSE Art and Design. However the most important requirement is a high level of self-motivation and enjoyment of the subject.

Course Structure

The OCR Art A Level has two components of work spread over two years which comprise the full course. The first is a personal investigation (60% of marks) consisting of one major project and a related personal study (1000-2500 words). The second is an externally set task (40% of marks) which follows a period of about six weeks of preparation and is 15 hours in length.

There is scope for a high degree of personal experimentation with an emphasis on exploration of technique and materials leading to the final examination. The pupils will work from given starting points but they will be the independent driving force in their projects.

The A level specialism is Fine Art.

Specification (OCR)
Ceramics & Sculpture

All projects start with drawing, discussion and usually a demonstration. Pupils are expected to show how they can explore ideas imaginatively, be inspired by the work of other artists, and to experiment with materials and techniques. Pupils start learning clay work early on by coiling pots and experimenting with slab building.

At GCSE, pupils work towards a more sophisticated final piece as part of their work. These tend to fall into two categories that become either functional or non-functional, and naturally lead into discussions about ceramics or sculpture. At this level, techniques become more advanced and pupils experiment with surface texture, pattern and colour. When designing a final piece a student will need to show their understanding of space and form, and the materials and its properties. We often have discussions about structure, tension and weight when designing three-dimensional works.

Processes are more highly developed at A Level; methods include casting, subtractive (when material is removed by carving and cutting) and additive (where materials are added).


Our specialist studio for printmaking houses an etching press, fabric printing table and a range of professional printmaking tools and inks. The Print Studio is used by pupils doing GCSE and A Level Art. The print facilities allow a diversity of techniques, including dry-point etching, screen printing, relief printing, collography, waterless lithography and monotype.

Pupils are encouraged to experiment with new media; digital imaging, glass engraving and printing onto alternative surfaces such as fine plaster, glass, canvas and fabrics. Technical help is provided to ensure processes are taught safely and correctly.

Printmaking is encouraged as an avenue of research, experimentation and refinement of ideas for all pupils. Many of our pupils translate ideas into print editions and this affords further variety to their achievements in this subject area.

Trips & Visits

The Art department runs a very busy programme of visits to galleries and museums in London and around the UK throughout the school year.

Recent visits have included The National Portrait Gallery, The Sainsbury Centre Collection, Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

In addition, we make a regular trip to a European city of culture and interest. The last few trips have been to Amsterdam. These trips usually take place in the Autumn/Lent half-term break, allowing the pupils a wonderful opportunity to see works of art first hand in a new and exciting environment.

Trumpington Gallery

The Trumpington Gallery is our Art gallery space, situated on the first floor of Great Hall.

The gallery is named after Baroness Trumpington, who was at The Leys from 1958 to 1975 as wife of the Headmaster, Alan Barker.

  • Ms Jessica Hebden – Head of Art
  • Miss Clare Battison – Ceramics Teacher
  • Mrs Victoria Dawson- Printmaking Teacher
  • Marina Ruiz Fernandez- Art Technician
  • Anna Doherty- Art Technician

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