Creative Arts

Information about Art, Drama and Music.

Contact head of subject for further information.

The Creative Arts Department is situated in our media building, "The Studio", which is one of our newest buildings housing workspaces which really help students get the best out of the subjects studied here. Read about the extensive range of opportunities available to students at Birkdale High School and some examples of the outstanding art work that our boys produce.


Art education enables students to engage with a wide range of art specific media, tools and techniques, study a variety of art including periods in art, art styles and major movements from ancient times up to the present day. It also develops student’s understanding for others’ though the study of art work from different cultures.

Through their artwork students can express their thoughts, feelings and personalities and work in a manner that allows them to showcase their unique creativity and individuality.

Art provides the opportunity for all students to succeed in a variety of disciplines. Whilst some students may shine in all aspects of art others may shine in specific areas.

At Birkdale we aim for all Foundation Stage students to experience these disciplines from the basics of drawing and shading to the more advanced techniques of painting, print making and sculpting.

"Art, craft and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity

- National Curriculum 2013

Why It Matters

Art has a huge impact on the world and many people are unaware just how many career opportunities the creative skills gained in this subject can offer. Some of them include:

  • Graphic design
  • Fashion design
  • Illustration
  • Animation
  • Gaming design
  • Medical illustration
  • Website design
  • Interior design
  • Jewellery design
  • Tattoo artist
  • Courtroom sketcher
  • Museum exhibit designer
  • Photographer
  • Art therapist
  • Make-up artist
  • Costume designer
  • Stage/set design
  • Education
  • Architecture
  • name a few.

Creative & Digital Industries

Web article on the vast growth rate of creative industries.

Year 7

During Year 7 students will begin to understand how to use the formal elements of art and become confident in using skills and techniques within their own designs. Students will develop their ability to draw and use tone with accuracy. We look at portraiture to understand proportion and capture aspects of their own personal identity within their work.

All projects have an element of design as we expect all boys to produce unique pieces of art based on a range of researched images. Each project studies either the work of an artist or a culture and their ideas are produced in response to this. In year 7 student’s work with shading pencils, coloured pencils and watercolour paints.

Year 8

During year 8 students will look at natural forms and insects and develop their skills to produce a piece of illustration. They will investigate Maori Art and produce designs to develop into a print. Students in their final term work on a graphics project. They will produce a poster design with particular reference to the horror genre.

Students work from a design brief and produce an individualised response as their final design. Studies of artists or cultures are linked to each project. In year 8 students work with pen and ink, print making equipment, graphite powder and shading pencils.

Year 9

During year 9 students work in a graphics style to produce a pop art style poster. Students work increasingly independently and make decisions in response to their research. This enables them to answer the design brief in an individual way and produce unique pieces of artwork. This project is specifically designed to be similar to a GCSE project allowing students to experience what the subject might be like should they chose to select art as one of their options in year 10. The second project is a three dimensional project were the boys will study gargoyles. They will design their own gargoyle in response to their findings and realise their design using a variety of three dimensional equipment.

A decision needs to be made during this term whether the student will continue to take Art as an option subject for their GCSE.


Students can choose Art as an option subject and study the AQA syllabus in Fine Art.

Students submit a portfolio of work that consists of 2 projects of coursework and an externally set task.

AQA Specification

Specification from the examination board.

Students are directed towards their individual strengths and draw from the knowledge and skills gained in Foundation Stage. Students begin to work in an independent and somewhat self-led way. Staff ensure students are challenged and stretched by working in a range of materials and media to produce a wide and varied portfolio.

Their portfolio is worth 60% of their overall mark with the remaining 40% being the examination which is an externally set task. Students are given 4-5 weeks to prepare for their examination leading to 10 hours of controlled conditions for students to produce their final response(s).


Art Plan

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10


Birkdale recognises that drama has an important role to play in the curriculum as a discrete subject and as such, each student in Foundation Stage has a one-hour drama lesson each fortnight. Birkdale also acknowledges that drama is an important part of the English National Curriculum and for these reasons the drama department has fostered links with English, as well as nurturing core skills of speaking and listening.

Studying Drama would be a pathway leading to

  • Theatre Studies/ Drama/ Performing Arts at AS/A2 level
  • BTEC National Certificate in Performing Arts
  • Careers in the entertainment and creative industries

Why It Matters

Drama is an art form that allows students to engage with each other on a creative level, working as a team to learn specific performance skills, as well as more technical skills such as lighting and sound. These exciting elements add to students understanding of how meaning is communicated in a wide variety of theatre forms.

Drama provides opportunities for all students to succeed. Although inevitably some students will be better at performance elements of the subject, all students have the ability to engage with character, theme and plot on a practical level, offering suggestions for its development and understanding what makes an interesting drama. It is also a subject that allows for the development of students physical interaction with a text, turning written words in to something that is live, exciting and engaging.

Foundation Stage

At Foundation Stage, where students have one hour per fortnight of Drama they follow a scheme of work for one term. The content of these schemes of work can change from year to year as schemes are being constantly updated and efforts are made to write at least one new scheme of work per year group each year. Schemes of work will give students the opportunity to develop their understanding of drama through the study of:

  • Text
  • Genre
  • Performance skills
  • Issue Based Drama
  • Theatre in Education

There are no national statutory levels given for drama. However, students are assessed each term using levels that have been created within the department. Assessment focuses on the students’ ability to make, present and evaluate, as well as assessing the level of students written work. Levels are recorded by staff each term and parents are notified of the level at which their child is currently working through whole school tracking.

Having found it difficult to always accurately assess the amount of effort a student has put into a piece of written work we focus on identifying the strengths of the piece, as well as offering advice on how the student can improve and develop their writing. Peer assessment is frequently in both practical and written tasks and is highly beneficial in helping students to develop their evaluation skills.

Examination Stage

Students can choose Drama as an option subject to study from Year 10 onwards. At Examination Stage schemes of work are tailored to meet the needs of the students whilst covering the skills outlined in the AQA syllabus, including devising, performance, improvisation and text work. Students will also be given the opportunity to develop their technical skills in lighting, sound and costume.

Students are assessed according to the criteria provided by the examination board AQA:

Unit 1 - Drama Written Exam Paper - 40%

  • Section A: Based on practical work completed during the course
  • Section B: Based on the study and performance of a scripted play
  • Section C: Based on a live theatre production seen

Unit 2 - Practical Work - 60%. Options include

  • Acting
  • Devised Thematic Work
  • Physical Theatre
  • Theatre in Education
  • Improvisation OR Design options (e.g. set design) OR technical options (e.g. sound, lighting, stage management)

AQA Specification

Specification from the examination board.


Currently, Music is taught at Foundation Stage and as an option at Examination Stage.

In years 8 and 9, students receive 1 one hour lesson per fortnight.

Foundation Stage Topics are underpinned by Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising Music. GCSE Music follows the AQA Specification.

Why It Matters

Music is a subject that is enjoyed throughout most peoples' lives. The ability to play an instrument is a great enjoyment for many. To achieve this requires determination and the self discipline to work alone.

Music offers many great career opportunities as well as a satisfying hobby and social outlet.

Year 7 topics

  • Basic keyboard Skills
  • Singing songs as a round
  • Composing for a Horror Film
  • Programme Music
  • The Sorcerers Apprentice
  • March and Waltz

Year 8 topics

  • Reggae Music and Bob Marley
  • Rap Music
  • Composing for the Computer Game Industry
  • Indian Raga
  • Intermediate keyboard skills

Year 9 topics

  • Theory through Composing And Performing (4 modules)
  • The Blues
  • Improvising through the Blues
  • Ukulele skills
  • Create a Band Project


Building upon the foundations of Foundation Stage, students who chose to take music can expect a subject that offers challenge in both theory and practical work.

AQA Specification

Specification from the examination board.

The Course Comprises of

  • Performing = 40%
  • Composing = 20%
  • Composing with Appraisal = 20%
  • Written Exam = 20% (Listening and Appraising)

There are 5 Areas of Study.

  • Rhythm and Metre
  • Harmony and Tonality
  • Texture and Melody
  • Timbre and Dynamics
  • Structure and Form

These are explored through 3 strands

  • The Western Classical Tradition
  • Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • World Music.

About Us

Birkdale High School, a limited company registered in England and Wales under Company number 07695504.

Registered address: Windy Harbour Road, Southport PR8 3DT

Headteacher: G Bourgade


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