Contextual Studies; Annotation and Essay Writing for A level Art

Contextual Studies and Essay Writing at A level

Course description


This course has been devised for the recent GCE Art and Design reforms and will enable teachers to improve the way that students engage, interpret and write about Art and Design.

Getting students to write about art and express their ideas clearly can be one of the most difficult aspects of Art and Design teaching.  In this very practical day you will explore activities that have been proven to get the highest marks that can be taken back to your classroom.  You will explore techniques that encourage students to engage collaboratively, intellectually and personally with art works from the past and the present.  You will explore how specialist language can be improved through sketchbook annotation and collaborative discussion. You will look at how these activities can be developed into more achievable, extended writing in preparation for the Personal Study in the new A level courses including advice on suggested timetabling, essay structures and essay formats. You will also be given practical advice in methods of online research that can enrich and inform the students’ writing as well as their practical work.

This course will help students who underachieve in their annotation and essay writing. You will come away with a wealth of practical resources and knowledge to enable your students to gain those A/A* grades in their contextual studies.



  • Be prepared for the new GCE Art and Design Curriculum.

  • Improve students’ ability to engage, interpret and write about Art and Design.

  • Practical activities you can use in your teaching.

  • Explore specialist language, improve sketchbook annotation and use collaborative discussion.

  • Extend writing for the Personal Study.

  • Advice on timetabling, essay structures and essay formats.

  • Use methods of online research to enrich and inform students work.

Who should attend?


  • All teachers of AS and A level Art and Design and Photography.

  • NQT’s and new teachers to AS/A level

  • Subject leaders.

  • Heads of faculty.

‘Very informative – opportunities for group discussion and support and advice. Roy was very knowledgeable and structured the course well’ – Brioney D, PCH Hitchin

‘Very helpful – great resources. I really liked the practical’s and learning how to use it in the classroom’ – Kamajit P, St Edwards Church of England Academy

100% of delegates rated this course as ‘Excellent’


Course rating from past delegates


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Your Course Leader


Roy Smith has over twenty five years experience as a teacher and as an artist and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Roy is an expert in the research processes connected to art and design and has an MA in Fine Art and an MPHIL in Art and Communication. He has worked with the Tate Modern to publish a guide for schools in order to contextually explore art in galleries called Looking For Change and devised and project managed the Turbine Generation Project. He has also worked as a creative practitioner and advisor for Creative Partnerships.
Roy has worked in special education, secondary comprehensives, grammar and independent schools. He is passionate about art and education and is a specialist getting the best from students across the ability range through the practical understanding and interpretation of art.

The Details

Central London - Date: TBC - To register you interest in this course please complete the 'Reserve your Spot on this course' form below


Cost: £275 + VAT. Includes lunch, refreshments, an excellent bank of resources and CPD certificate


N.B. Delegates will be required to bring a laptop to this course.

Save money by having this course run in your school. Click below for details.

Reserve a spot on this course


Enter your details here to make a provisional booking and we will hold you a space for two weeks.

We are specialist in delivering CPD to the Creative Arts

Feedback from delegates


‘Very informative – opportunities for group discussion and support and advice. Roy was very knowledgeable and structured the course well’ – Brioney D, PCH Hitchin


‘I found the day really useful and have many useful strategies to support delivery of the written elements of A level but also GCSE. I really enjoyed the way Roy modelled each task/strategy and provided some great scaffolding’ – Sophie L, King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls


‘Excellent Course, great course details but also fantastic opportunity to discuss ideas for teaching sixth form. Really informal and excellent structure’ – Katie G, Brentwood School


‘Very helpful – great resources. I really liked the practical’s and learning how to use it in the classroom’ – Kamajit P, St Edwards Church of England Academy


‘Interactive, informal but informative. Useful tips – how to start, continue and conclude’ – Gemma W, Swanlea School

‘A fantastic course, lots of valuable advice and practical techniques to take back to the classroom’ – Karen L, County Upper School

‘Fast pace – good interactive activities’ -  David H, County Upper School

‘Incredibly helpful – both theoretical and practical. Very excited to incorporate activities into my own course structure’ – Mia H, Finchley Catholic High School

 ‘Excellent information – really useful for current students and future planning’ – Alison G, City of London School

‘Fantastically detailed resources, wealth of knowledge and experience imported’ - Paul A, Clifton High School

‘Excellent content – terrific activity’ - Fabia H, Stoke Newington School & Sixth Form College


‘Brilliant! What good ideas and exercises to help pupils find inspiration, vocabulary and structure for their essay’ – Alexandra C, Bradfield College

‘It was the first course for a number of years that has actually covered what was needed’ – Alexandra C, Bradfield College

‘Very informative course, good structure of delivering information about changes in specs’ – Kinga K, The King John School

‘Resources – brilliant – thank you!’ – Kinga K, The King John School

‘This has been a fantastic day thanks to a great leader who shared a wide range of experience, knowledge, advice & resources’ – Alison G, Winchmore School

‘One of the most relevant and best INSETS I’ve been on in a long time’ – Alison G, Winchmore School

‘Has given me some great tools and ideas to take my students to the next level’ – Alison G, Winchmore School

‘Really enjoyable – fast paced with excellent practical activities’ – Vikki H, New Vic

‘Very inclusive, informative and dynamic activities’ – Vikki H, New Vic

‘Informative, interesting, fun. Excellent resources and information’ – Kiri B, Debden Park High School


‘Well organised course with a wonderful variety and range of visual information and relevant examples’ – Lindsay G, St Mary’s School Ascot


‘Excellent level of information geared exactly to what I needed’ – Xenia H, St Mary’s School Ascot


‘A very effective and informative session’ – Lucy D, Swanlea School


‘Practical tasks that were really helpful and easily adaptable to classroom practice’ – Lucy D, Swanlea School


‘Roy’s subject knowledge is amazing’ – Lucy D, Swanlea School


‘Practical, informative, engaging and useful’ – Anna Jago, Crayford Academy


‘Would recommend to anyone teaching A Level’ – Sarah B, Morpeth School


‘Very informative with really good practical ideas that could be used for all key stages’ – Suzy A, Shiplake College


‘The course leader was very inspiring and knowledgeable, friendly and approachable’ – Hannah M, Oriel High School for Girls


‘Lots of quick ideas to get the students enthused about writing’ – Hannah M, Oriel High School for Girls


‘Really useful resources’ – Hannah M, Oriel High School for Girls


‘Interesting activities and starter ideas’ – Jane D, Lewes Old Grammar School


‘Has made me feel confident about disseminating this session when I return to school’ – Lucy D, Swanlea School


‘Lots of strategies, great pace, and very valuable’ – Maeve F, Mossbourne Academy


‘Really active, practical examples about how to break down essays into manageable chunks’ – Maeve F, Mossbourne Academy


‘Very informative, great pace and variety of tasks’ – Caroline B, St George’s College


‘A valuable day, resources will be useful to share with rest of department’ – Caroline B, St George’s College


‘Very useful, practical activities’ – Sarah B, Morpeth School


‘So much helpful material that I will use!’ – Lindsay G, St Mary’s School Ascot


‘The practical sessions really helped to cement and underline our understanding’ – Lindsay G, St Mary’s School Ascot


‘Well organised and inspiring’ – Rosita H, Longfield Academy


‘Great delivery with very useful resources and samples’ – Rosita H, Longfield Academy


‘Great activity with practical workshops’ – Rosita H, Longfield Academy


‘Excellent information and delivery by teacher’ – Hilary J, Waldegrave School