Art and Design



Mrs Troon

Mrs Wood

Ms Christie

Ms Molleson

Art and Design at James Gillespie’s High School offers students who are both artists and designers in the making, as well as those keen to enrich their academic subjects with a creative option, an exciting environment to work in through a broad range of processes and approaches. Students are encouraged to explore their creativity and development of problem-solving and investigation of the world around them, with emphasis on the importance of observational drawing as well as personal expression through active learning to develop confidence and resilience as life-long learners. Good citizenship and collaborative learning are features of many projects, which may be cross-curricular, that are undertaken and students are encouraged to enter competitions regularly. Each member of the Art staff’s expertise is a resource for students to tap and Art staff offer after-school sessions for coursework and further support in portfolio preparation. Each year many of our students are successful in gaining places on both Art and Design Degree courses in Higher Education and Art and Design Foundation courses in Further Education throughout the UK. We have an annual programme of inviting former students who are currently studying or pursuing a career in the Creative Industries to talk to and advise current applicants and those interested in these career pathways.

Homework in Art and Design


The integrated Critical Studies element of each unit at SQA National and Higher levels as well as A Level requires the student to conduct a substantial degree of personal and independent research that will support practical work covered in class. The majority of this element of each unit would be expected to be produced as written homework, with class support in the form of lectures, question sheets, word banks, tables and information sheets. Pupils would also be expected to produce a certain amount of expressive and design practical work as homework in addition to this which is particularly pertinent to Higher and A Level courses. After-school sessions are available for this purpose. S1-6 students are all given sketchbooks for homework and encouraged to practice their skills regularly.

Our Courses

Broad General Education



As part of a broad general education, encompassing a variety of themes in art & design, S1/2 students develop their understanding of the Visual Elements in expressive artwork and a consideration of the Design Issues in their design briefs. In developing research, creative and evaluation skills, technical ability and confidence in expressive, design and written course work art and design students become creative thinkers with both practical and transferable skills, useful across the curriculum. S1/2 students have one period of Art per week and there is the opportunity for them to attend in the school lunch hour to complete project work.

Senior Phase

Entry level: recommendation following S2 attainment.


Course Content:


The S3 course will initially focus on the continuation, during Term 1, of a broad general education encompassing a variety of themes in art & design, further developing research, creative and evaluation skills, technical ability and confidence in expressive, design and written course work.


During Terms 2 & 3 pupils will focus their attention on National 4 coursework, with a view to progressing the work to National 5 level in S4.




The course continues in S4 and comprises two units of portfolio work submitted to SQA

  • Expressive Activity with integrated Critical Studies plus Added Value Unit        
  • Design Activity with integrated Critical Studies plus Added Value Unit


In S4, at National 5 level, there is a written question paper set as an external exam, designed to assess the knowledge and understanding gained from the course work produced for the Expressive & Design Critical Studies.


James Gillespie’s will offer fast-tracking to those students who have the necessary skills and commitment to sit National 5 in S3 and Higher Art and Design in S4.


‘The level of opportunity and support offered during my time working on the higher Art and Design course in the Art department has been very encouraging.’ (S4 pupil who achieved National 5 in S3 and currently undertaking Higher Art and Design in S4.)

Higher Art

Entry Level:


National 5 pass.


Course Content:


The course consists of three units of work which includes two practical portfolios submitted to SQA:


  • Expressive Activity
  • Design Activity
  • Art and Design Studies (external written exam)


These units further develop the skills gained during the Nat 5 course. Students are offered opportunities to determine, with guidance, areas for study that allow for personalisation and choice and depth of study. Pupils are expected to demonstrate personal involvement and commitment essential in the study of Art and Design at this level.


  • Expressive Activity involves researching, investigating and creating imagery from chosen themes through drawing, painting, collage, photography, sculpture & printmaking. With guidance, pupils would choose from portraiture, figure composition, still life, natural environment or built environment and would produce research studies, development compositions and a final piece


  • Design Activity focuses on the creation of a design brief and the experience of working through the design process using problem solving skills and critical thinking to fulfil the requirements of the brief. With guidance, pupils would choose from jewellery design, textile design, graphic design, architecture design or product design and would produce detailed research sheets, a range of development designs, models and samples and a final design solution.


  • Art & Design Studies is the written element of the course and involves the personal research, study and evaluation, with support, of both historical and contemporary art and design movements and works related to their Expressive and Design Activities. The Art & Design Studies element will involve pupils developing their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of historical and contemporary working practices, social and cultural influences on art & design work and will develop their critical thinking skills.

A Level Art

This is a very dynamic and broad ranging, portfolio based course. The A’Level offers a freedom of choice for the individual in regards to working methods and prepares students making applications for Art and Design based University/College/Further Education courses. There is a huge variety of different areas to study from Design through to Fine Art.


At James Gillespie’s High School, we teach the Unendorsed Edexcel A’Level Art, Craft and Design course which we believe offers every pupil the opportunity to pursue their own interests and ideas through a structured but creatively flexible course. Students are supported through opportunity to diversify and deepen their knowledge and skills within four distinct Units of work over one intensive year in S6. We teach the two year course in one academic year and that means it is essential the students are prepared to undertake a substantial amount of study in their own time and to come into the department for a minimum of 5 additional periods in the week to complete the course requirements.

To access Art and Design course resources on SharePoint, click here.

Please note, this is only accessible to JGHS staff and students with their school log-in information.