Gumley House School




Head of Department:  Mrs M. Martin

Photography is a truly contemporary subject which is relevant to all our students’ lives.  We are bombarded with images daily and the ability to understand the way these images are produced and manufactured is a vital life skill.  Giving students the tools to analyse and critique the images they see affords them the chance to see the ways in which the images pervade their lives.  Photography is a genuinely vocational subject, which involves students making their own portfolios of work, writing their own short dissertation on photography and the impact images can have on society.

Photography is extremely hands-on.  Students interact with modern technology using IT programs such as Photoshop. Students also explore traditional image making process and experiment with the use of traditional photographic chemistry.

How photography is taught?
At Gumley, we start with a holistic approach, where we explore the roots of Photography and communication and the relationships between Photography and the student’s daily interactions with advertising and social media.

We explore basic photographic techniques and build these into personalised workshops so that students are always learning relevant skills to their own future plan.

A-level provides students with the opportunity to prove that they are able to communicate ideas about themselves and their world and understand a high standard or written and verbal language.  Here, the focus is on effective communication using photography and the analysis of images and academic texts, students will be given extra support with higher skill tasks as required. Our final goals is to create high-achieving students who have the skills to communicate effectively and who have a wide knowledge of the world. They will have the academic skills needed to decode and understand the impact of media and photographs place within that in the modern world and the practical research skills necessary for higher and life-long learning.

What topics will students study?
In Photography learners will cover a range of different elements of technical and academic skills including processing film and darkroom skills, digital manipulation, studio lighting and a range of other core photographic skills required for successfully undertaking vocational studies further into the world of work or further study.  Students will be taught the theory behind photography planning and production and produce a practical personal response using skills acquired in lesson.

Students will also look into the academic theory behind Photography and develop analytical skills when looking at elements from current media such as television shows, websites and magazines.

What skills or attributes do I need in order to succeed in this subject?
Students will need to be a focused and dedicated student willing to put the time and effort into a subject that is both academically challenging and has a practical portfolio of work.

What careers might this subject lead to?
In today’s society media is one of the growth industries and much of this requires the skills of a photographer of videographer. A small number of possible careers include: Wedding photographer, advertising photographer, image editor, photography teacher, Gallery worker, videographer, image restoration specialist. 

Throughout the course students are given the opportunity to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills, to include:

  • developing and exploring ideas
  • researching primary and contextual sources
  • experimenting with media, materials, techniques and processes
  • presenting personal response(s)

Throughout the course, the learning schemes are designed to fulfil all assessment objectives and students learn about a range of elements including composition and colour. Students explore a range of physical and digital manipulation using techniques including Photoshop. Students studying Photography also get the opportunity to gather their own images from London and Oxford. Detailed monitoring and feedback allows students to improve the quality of their photographs and their annotation.

Photography in Year 9

This section is currently being updated to reflect our curriculum changes from September 2021  

Photography in Years 10 and 11 (GCSE)

Exam BoardEdexcel (click here for Exam Specification)

What will I learn on this course?
You will develop your creative skills through the process of image making and digital photography. You will exploring a range of media, materials and techniques such as montage, mixed media, installation, studio and location photography, and image manipulation depending on your personal interest! You will also learn how to hone your analytical skills and how to develop your ideas by creating images that are individual, personal and unique in style and content.

What is the importance of studying Photography at GCSE?
The two-year course if successfully completed, can lead to A Level Photography and beyond Gumley to a place in Art College, or entry onto a BA Degree in a wide variety of subjects. Studying photography will enhance your creative, social and cultural understanding as well as develop your specialist technical knowledge. Photography is relevant to a range of careers including graphic design, animation, film, fashion design, web design. It will prove a valuable skill in our highly visual, multi-media world.

Other areas of study and training commonly taken up by photography graduates include advertising, design, film, editing, journalism and creative enterprise.

What are the requirements when completing a controlled assessment?
The majority of the work is carried out in class and is therefore informally supervised. Some work which aids the development of the submission (homework, research, gallery visits) may be completed without direct supervision.  The 10-hour sustained focus is formally supervised.

What resources are available to use?
We can provide good quality cameras and a variety of lenses. Although it is advisable to have access to a camera and computer for use at home, the department provides the majority of the materials and equipment required (large format printers, studio lighting and printing papers).  A class set of high spec laptop computers with Photoshop is also available. The department also has access to the school computer rooms.

What are the aims of the course?
The Photography course aims to develop students as Photographers and Artists. You will have the opportunity to explore and experiment with different materials, methods and techniques of image making.  Your ideas, the work in progress, as well as any finished pieces of work are the subject of assessment and evaluation. 

 The course aims to develop:

  • Creative and imaginative abilities and the practical skills for engaging with and for communicating original ideas.
  • Critical and enquiring minds
  • Cultural knowledge and understanding of Photography and Art.
  • Personal attributes including self-confidence, resilience, perseverance, self-discipline and commitment.

How will I be assessed on the course?
You will produce a Personal Portfolio which is worth 60%. This is Component 1.  Component 2, The Externally Set Assignment makes up the remaining 40% and includes a preparatory period and the production of a final piece (the 10-hour sustained focus).

What extracurricular activities will be available?
The Art Department has an open door policy; students are welcome to work at lunchtime and after school either independently or with help from staff.

What is required of me when completing the course?
An awareness of Art and Photography in its broadest context is increasingly necessary for the work required at GCSE Level.  Where possible, you will be expected to visit galleries, museums and exhibitions.  There will be a school visit to an Art Gallery (London based) as part of the personal portfolio.  In addition, you need to explore locations within your environment for research purposes which will assist you in the development of your individual project work. 

You will be expected to work in at least one of the following areas of study:

  • Portraiture, Documentary, Photo-journalism photography
  • Studio photography
  • Location photography
  • Experimental imagery
  • Installation, moving image.

You will need to prove your commitment in lower school to gain entry onto this course.
You will need an A4 sketch-book for each Component.  Access to a camera will be necessary for research and development work.

Achieving the Grade 8 or 9
We have an excellent track record in terms of results in the Art department as we believe in working with students on an individual basis developing their particular interests and talents. You will have the support of enthusiastic and caring teachers in a creative environment. We believe in empowering students to take risks with a view to producing work of exceptional quality. Individual help is always available.

What further study options are available?
Students are encouraged to attend gallery and museum based workshops

Lens and light based media: Students will learn how to work with a DSLR camera as well as compact cameras.  They will use a number of facilities including a full studio, lighting, filters and number of different lenses.  Students will become confident at describing and explaining using all the technical language as well as Photoshop. 

Students will also learn a number of different genres and professional photographers that will help them to gain a better understanding of the photographer’s work and how it can influence their work. Students will create a number of photographic final pieces with the development of all your studies.

Unit 1 - Personal Portfolio (worth 60%) in Year 10 and Year 11

This is a collection of final pieces that are produced to a number of topics which is supported with a portfolio and sketchbook.

Unit 2 - Externally Set Assignment in Art and Design (worth 40%) in Year 11

This is a final piece produced in an exam with preparatory work that is produced in the weeks leading up to the exam which supports the development and production of the final piece.


Photography at A Level

For more information on the content of Art & Design: Photography at Key Stage 5, please visit our Sixth Form Course Guide.