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A-Level Photography – Essential Photography Skills to meet the Higher Grade Boundaries – “The Cog Wheel Approach”

Course Code:


Many A-level Photography students do not reach their potential grades due to higher grade boundaries than other Art & Design titles. This revised course tackles the lack of photographic approaches missing in national entries which tend to favour image capture and image manipulation. Through hands on workshops, we will explore how students must demonstrate both aesthetic and technical considerations in their work. Using aperture, shutter speed, depth of field & ISO, i.e. Camera Craft, we will explore ‘off the shelf’ teaching strategies which respond successfully through skill-based activities exploiting contextual sources in an analytical and critical manner. This course will put you in the ‘shoes’ of your students, take you by the hand and provide you with essential skills and ideas for teaching and learning practice across both components for A-Level Photography. You must bring a digital SLR camera or bridge camera, fully charged with a memory card.


  • Enable your students to meet the higher grade boundaries in this title
  • Teach your students to use an SLR or bridge camera with skill and confidence
  • Employ camera functions manually and creatively
  • Utilise skills and techniques to respond to starting points in an informed way
  • Focus on ‘intent’ when planning for photography
  • Reach the top mark band or A* by extended thinking within your students photography work
You must bring a digital SLR camera or bridge camera, fully charged with a memory card.


Why are there higher grade boundaries for Photography and how can students achieve them?

10.00 – 11.15am Exploring Exposure Workshop Pt 1
  • Examine the uses of Photography
  • Technical and Aesthetic
  • Importance of ‘Intent’ and planning
  • Genres and contextual references Composition practical workshop – “50 Steps” Getting to know your camera.

Morning Break

11.15 – 11.30am

Working manually with your Digital SLR – Component 1 Portfolio/Personal Investigation

11.30am – 12.30pm
  • Aperture override – building confidence with camera control
  • Using shutter speed creatively – “Cog Wheel Approach”
  •  Importance of recording to raise attainment
Exploring Exposure Workshop Pt 2
  • Technical considerations with ISO & white balance – “The Bucket Theory”


12.30 – 1.15pm

Responding to a Theme – Component 2, The Externally Set Assignment

1.15 – 2.15pm
  • Let’s get creative! – Inspirational workshop based on informed responses to:
  • Contextual references
  • Genres
  • Areas of study within Photography (Lens-based and Light-based media)
  • Show & Share

Afternoon Break

2.15 – 2.30pm

Building intent and extending thinking – Reaching for A*

2.30 – 3.30pm
  • Higher level thinking strategies
  • Appropriate intentions
  • Meaningful explorations
  • Personal responses
Building a scheme of work
  •  Sequence of operations vital for a successful Photography course Production quality
  • Important factors, the “Must Have’s”
  • Documenting “The Journey” for assessment success


London | Tuesday 19 March 2024
London | Thursday 11 July 2024
London | Tuesday 19 March 2024
London | Thursday 11 July 2024

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Mark Coombe is an experienced Art & Design teacher of 25 years who has taught all areas of Art & Design. He is renowned as a CPD leader, trainer and presenter across all disciplines of Art & Design. He is a practising artist, in particular in animal portraiture – livestock & rare breeds – and his current portfolio is supplying The National Trust in Norfolk, Suffolk and other regions.


  • All teachers of A-Level Digital Photography aiming for their students to achieve the higher grade boundaries
  • Non specialist teachers who are teaching this title
  • Photographers who are teaching and want clarification and lesson ideas to ensure their students are creative and respond to contextual references


  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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