Our Art Department is a vibrant and productive space which fosters an ethos of individual creativity and learning. Our learners thrive as visual practitioners and benefit from range of creative pursuits and activities across art, design and photography genres.

Working with pupils from J1 all the way through to S6, the department offers pupils the chance to develop their skills through thoughtful experimentation and a variety of different techniques and approaches. Pupils can study towards National 4/5, Higher and IB in Art and Design.

In Junior School, we work with pupils to develop creative expression through the introduction of a range of projects and art activities, from expressive mark-making to 3D construction. Pupils are inspired by a selection of artists, designers and the world around them nurturing creative curiosity and producing exciting and innovative responses.

These skills are reinforced and developed in the early senior years ahead of pupils choosing their certification choices for S3 and above. 

Across all certification courses, pupils focus on multiple elements:

  • Drawing as the basis for each project and the essential foundations
  • Problem solving through design-based projects
  • Higher order thinking skills through analysis of art and design works
  • Making and creating; each stage allows for complexity of making ion 3D, exploring materials and techniques
Art and Design - National 5

The National 4 and National 5 Art and Design courses comprise two practical folios of artwork which focus on Design and Expressive themes. Pupils develop a range of skills, through a variety of techniques underpinned by drawing and the visual elements.

There is a written paper and pupils will study, in depth, the work of two artists and two designers exploring themes such as composition, subject matter and working methods. As part of this process pupils will also develop skills in art appreciation and understanding across a broader range of disciplines such as Environmental art and Architecture to product and costume design.

In S3 pupils are introduced to a wide range of materials and techniques and begin to work on a chosen theme for their first folio of work. The focus here is on exploration of ideas and techniques, allowing pupils to develop their own unique style and begin to make decisions and problem solve their own ideas.

The two folios of work cover expressive and design areas.

Expressive folios may be selected from a range of activities such as

  • Sculpture
  • Painting
  • Collage / mixed media
  • Printmaking

Design folios may take the form of:

  • Textiles
  • Graphics
  • Product design
  • Interiors
  • Jewellery
Art and Design - Higher

Work at Higher is focused on building Expressive and Design portfolios with similar choices of medium and approach to National 5.

Themes for the Expressive folio may include portraiture, still life, the built or natural environment.

While pursuing their Design portfolio, pupils will learn about and work through the different stages of the Design process including:

The Brief

Investigation and Research

Development of ideas

Final Solution

Pupils will choose a theme from which to explore their design ideas, which may include: sea life, natural forms, mechanics or animals.

In both the Expressive and Design unit, pupils will learn skills, techniques and problem-solving strategies to work through this process. Pupils will complete investigation, development and final solution sheets that includes a Design Brief and an Evaluation.

Art and Design - Advanced Higher

Advanced Higher Pupils will continue to develop the skills learned in previous years and use this knowledge to complete either a Design or Expressive portfolio of work. Pupils will also produce a critical analysis project based on an artist or designer of their choice who has informed their Advanced Higher studies.

The Portfolio will include a maximum number of 16 x A1 sheets of Investigation, Development and Solutions and relevant Design Briefs and Evaluation forms. The written critical analysis unit is a maximum of 2000 words.

At Advanced Higher, the Portfolio theme is the candidate’s own choice and could be focused on a theme such as: still life, architecture or body adornment. The emphasis at this level is on experimentation and exploration of ideas and the project should be independently pupil-driven with a personal approach to the subject area.

Pupils are able to draw from the wide range of high quality resources and expertise available to them in the department to produce artwork which is innovative, challenging and ultimately reflects the pupil and their abilities.

Furthermore, Advanced Higher candidates will benefit from their own studio space in the mezzanine area of the Art Department. This personal, creative space facility will allow pupils to work independently and utilise their free periods and offers an authentic experience of life as an artist.

Visual Arts - IB

IB Visual Arts aims to foster an understanding and appreciation of the visual arts while allowing students to develop their own artistic voice. The visual arts are an integral part of everyday life, permeating all levels of human creativity, expression, communication and understanding. They range from traditional art forms to the varied and divergent practices associated with emerging and contemporary forms of visual language. We celebrate the visual arts not only in the way we create images and objects, but also in the way we appreciate, enjoy, respect and respond to the practices of art-making by others from around the world.

In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from different perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to experiment with a range of materials and techniques, developing analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. Students direct their own thematic investigations which support and inform the studio work and reflect the student’s creative thinking and their visual inquiry.

The course is split into 3 lines or enquiry.

The first is a Process Portfolio, where students experiment with media and skills, leading to a digital folio of their artwork. Students complete this as a project but each technique is identified, creating a visual journey of discovery.

The second is a Comparative Study. This is an illustrated extended essay, again digitally submitted, which complements the Process Folder. The Comparative Study broadens a students knowledge of art and helps give context to their artistic output.

The third and final element is an Exhibition. Students have to plan and execute an exhibition of their work. Not only are they showcasing their creative outcomes but taking into account setting, environment and audience in relation to their work.

Through inquiry, investigation, reflection and creative application, visual arts students develop an appreciation for the expressive and aesthetic diversity in the world around them, becoming critically informed makers and consumers of visual culture. 

All our pupils also benefit from various opportunities to learn outside the classroom with S3 pupils enjoying a trip to Loch Eil to explore environmental and landscape art and S4 pupils exploring workshop events at Kelvingrove Art Galleries. Contemporary artists and Designers are also welcomed and recent workshops have included visiting artists such as Glasgow based, jewellery designer Laura Murray and glass artist Siobhan Healy who offers pupils a fascinating insight into their work and practice. A photography masterclass from photojournalist David Gillanders affords pupils a unique experience, giving them a valuable opportunity to share ideas and learn from another professional practitioner. We also have enjoyed a visit from the Travelling Gallery, exhibiting the art of Gordon Douglas which gave pupils a taste of contemporary art and an insight into his mixture of creativity and theatre.

The department is a regular contributor, and regular winner, of several annual competitions such as the Rotary Young Photographer of the Year, the Royal Scottish Academy ‘Art for Schools’ Awards, Caledonian Club Art for Schools Award and the Scottish Portrait Awards among others.

Excellence at all levels is also recognised with our own ‘Artwork of the Week’ programme which sees a different pupil celebrated each week from across the school. 

Extra-curricular opportunities are also on offer with at least one club running each term such as an origami club, recycled jewellery and basket weaving clubs.


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To find out more about how we engender hard work and determination in our young people, come and visit us and meet our dedicated teaching staff and speak to our pupils.