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A Level Photography 2008

Time to reflect

This has been another exciting year for the A level photography course. Over 50 students have completed either an AS or A2 qualification and the end of year exhibition was the biggest and best received of all our shows. It seems that our students appreciate the opportunities we give them to

express their ideas and produce work which spans a range of genres, styles, techniques and processes.

The AQA specification embraces a variety of lens and light based media. This enables students to experiment with animation and film, as well as film based and digital photography. We also encourage them to use photocopiers, scanners and their mobile phones to capture their images. We believe that clicking the shutter is just one of the many processes that contribute to the creation of remarkable images. We are excited by the many ways in which contemporary artists use photography and believe that our

students should be exposed to both new and traditional ways of image making. We want all our students to develop an appreciation for the history of the medium and to develop the transferable skills necessary for further study and the world of work. Yet again, they have proved that, with encouragement and sufficient challenge, they are ale to create inspirational work.

The photography course consists of two coursework units and one timed test in each year. September 2008 sees the start of the new AS specification which requires the production of only one coursework portfolio. However, we will continue to provide two teachers for each class to ensure that students experience a variety of teaching styles and a range of expertise. As happens now, each teacher will select a main theme for their coursework component and the class will then explore a range of responses based on their study of historical and contemporary artists. The major difference in the new specification is the emphasis placed on students’ literacy. We will maintain our use of critical studies books, which function as visual diaries filled with observations, experiments and evaluations. However, we will also encourage candidates to develop one or more of their ideas using continuous prose. This will hopefully develop their ability to connect their thoughts and

observations more coherently, leading to the production of even more sophisticated visual responses. We believe that the ability to pose, as well as solve, problems is key to the development of students’ creativity. Consequently, we hope to create an atmosphere in class which promotes debate, stimulates questions and opens up possibilities. Next year, we aim to enhance opportunities for students to engage in the co-creation of the photography curriculum, accept more responsibility for management of projects with members of the local community and provide more opportunities for expert tuition from visiting professional photographers. We are keen to develop better links with art colleges and ensure that students receive the best possible advice when applying to further education or the world of work. We are looking forward to some great results in the summer and another clutch of young photographers joining us in September.

Views of stake holders What aspects of the A level Photography course were successful for you? • • • • • • • • •

Teachers are friendly and always try to help Teachers able to provide ideas and inspiration I was able to express myself in the Critical Studies book Freedom to investigate themes and take them in any direction No weekly homework deadlines Help available on the school website Freedom to present work in a variety of formats Good advice on suitable artists/photographers for research Art and design resources available and free to use

What advice would you give to new A level Photography students? • • • •

• • What aspects of the course would you like to see changed/improved? • •

• • • • • •

• • •

More advice about technical aspects of the subject e.g. depth of field, lighting etc. Lessons timetabled together on one day rather than on separate days – no more one hour lessons! Homework checked more regularly so that students know how well they’re doing More lessons on Photoshop techniques More opportunities to be experimental in the darkroom Too many websites are filtered in school Art and design resources should be available in every lesson Teachers should speak with the students individually every lesson. More time for tutorials. More card readers needed Students should get earlier notice of deadlines More trips, especially photo shoots

• • •

Trust in your own vision and have fun exploring your own ideas Keep your Critical Studies book simple. Don’t bother with messy backgrounds! Take lots of photographs Experiment with lots of different kinds of light and lens based technology – scanners, cameras, photocopiers, video, animation etc. Speak regularly to your teachers and check that your ideas are good while you’re working on them Plan your workflow Don’t leave everything to the last minute and be aware of deadlines Don’t get distracted by everyone else – follow your own path Visit as many exhibitions as possible Ask for help if you’re stuck because you’ll always get it

Special thanks to photography teachers Madeline Matthew and Sam Kiff for their expertise and support. We are all very proud of the achievements of our talented and creative students. Finally, thanks to their parents and carers for their support, encouragement and kind words. Jon Nicholls, Head of Photography

A Level Photography Report 2007/8