GCSE Photography: lens-based and light-based media

Subject Vision

We aim to provide an educational experience in which students can apply technical knowledge and understanding to the practical application of photography that prepares students for further education and industry. We aim to support students in visually communicating a broad spectrum of thoughtful and creative personal responses through a process of; research and critical analysis, a range of methods for recording and presenting and through the trialling and development of appropriate media and processes. 


Curriculum Plan

Year 10

During year 10 pupils take part in a wide range of photography experiences. Pupils are taught the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding they need to complete their work that will be submitted for components 1 and 2. They take part in workshops that study the anatomy of a camera and learn how to use the camera in a variety of manual modes. A range of short introductory projects are completed focusing on the formal elements used in photography. The introductory projects explore a variety of camera settings, such as using focus, viewpoint, aperture to understand depth of field and shutter speed to explore exposure. Pupils are introduced to the idea of responding to a theme or working to a brief and learn how to use Photoshop to edit their work and support in the development of their ideas. Pupils learn how to use correct terminology to evaluate their photography work and explore the work of a range of photographers and relevant sources. On completion of the introductory projects, students begin to work from a given starting point to complete the first of two extended projects in year 10.  These projects will cover all four of the assessment objectives set by the exam board.  Pupils are taught how to build a digital portfolio to record and present their work. During the summer term pupils experience a mock exam to prepare them for their year 11 externally set task. 

Year 11

During the autumn term in year 11, pupils will use and build on all prior knowledge and experience of photography to respond to a starting point in an extended personal project of their choosing. They will evidence all four assessment objectives within this work. Pupils will select their starting point from a previous externally set task to become more familiar with exam preparation. In January pupils will receive their component 2 externally set task from the exam board and begin preparatory work for their examination. Students must choose from a selection of starting points, evidencing all four assessment objectives as they produce a personal response for their chosen title. The preparatory work will conclude with 10 hours of supervised unaided work in which they continue to realise their intentions in response to their selected starting point.


60% of the course is evidenced in component 1 in which includes more than one extended collection of work, or project which demonstrates an ability to sustain work from initial starting points to the realisation of intentions and include evidence of research, the development of ideas and meaningful links with critical/contextual sources. 
40% of the course is evidenced through unit 2, which is an externally set task. Pupils create a personal response to one starting point within the paper for which they have been entered. They are expected to develop their own work informed by their preparatory studies whilst covering all assessment objectives.
For both your coursework and the exam project you will be assessed on your ability to record your research and ideas; analyse and evaluate; develop ideas; realise your designs.
Students are provided with personalised verbal feedback on a lesson-by-lesson basis due to the practical nature of the subject to support students in making expected progress. 
Students work is assessed with a holistic approach across the four assessment objectives set out by the exam board. This can only be done with some accuracy when students have completed an extended project meeting all four assessment objectives. Formal assessment of student work is carried out when calendared data reports are required and will be based on work completed to date.


Photography has proven to be a popular choice at GCSE with full GCSE groups since the course became available to students as an option subject in 2018.
2020 - 100% of students achieved grades 9-1. 85% of students achieved grades 9-4 with 15% of students achieving grades 9-8. 50% students exceeded their expected levels of progress.
2019 - 100% of students achieved grades 9-1 with 89% of disadvantaged students meeting or exceeding expected progress.

What next

A natural progression would be to continue with A Level Photography or an Art-based A Level or you could study a BTEC course in Photography or Art.

A photography job can take many different forms. Some photographers freelance, others run their own studios or work for companies as salaried employees. Photographers can also further customise their careers by choosing to specialise in a certain kind of photography. From wedding photography to commercial photography to photojournalism, the possibilities are almost endless.

Careers directly linked with Photography could potentially involve:
•    Portrait photography
•    Location photography
•    Commercial and Studio photography
•    Graphic Design and Illustration
•    Documentary photography
•    Photojournalism
•    Moving image: film, video and animation
•    Fashion photography.