This new practically based course is aimed for all teachers of GCSE Art & Design looking to increase their practical approaches, ideas and techniques to boost the grades of lower ability students.  The will focus on ways to develop the weaker student, how to motivate reluctant learners, and ways to stimulate and develop creative ideas appropriate for them.  It will also demonstrate how  to avoid common pitfalls and break through barriers instigated by reluctant learners.

There will also be focus on these common issues amongst lower ability students – many Art & Design students  are unable or unwilling to get started from starting points, jump from one unrelated idea to the next, expect  the teacher to make choices about the direction of their work with little intention of their own, selecting creative ideas beyond their strengths, lacking skill with the correct way to use drawing for a role or a purpose, and see annotation as an area of failure before they even begin their work!


  • Unpick exam board requirements for reaching level 5 or above
  • Gain ideas, approaches in workshops to tweak & apply the following day in your classroom
  • Focus on teaching strategies which will ‘turn on’ and motivate reluctant learners
  • Take away methods to build student confidence when drawing and annotating
  • Find out successful ways to use emulation as a starting point for students’ practical work
  • Understand what a lower ability student must do to maximise their use of the 10 hours supervised time for The Externally Set Assignment.
  • You must have an A5 or bigger sketchbook and drawing materials to work with on the day.

COURSE DATE London | Tuesday 14 December 2021

London | Tuesday 25 January 2022

  • Heads of Department
  • All teachers of GCSE Art & Design – Fine Art, Graphics, Textiles, 3D & Photography
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

10.00 – 10.30am: What Does Gaining a Grade 5 or beyond involve?

  • Key elements for achieving level 5 or beyond.
  • Identifying and considering the main challenges when teaching the weaker student.
  • What are the ‘hurdles’ and how to overcome them
  • Reflect on how the assessment objectives can help these students ‘travel’ through their component 1 portfolio.

10:30am to 11:15am: Getting students started

  • Inspirational ideas and approaches in a practical session to get a weaker student started from a given starting point such as an artwork, and to stick with an idea without jumping from one unrelated idea to the next.

1.15 – 11.30am: Break

11.30 – 12.30am:  Using ‘the correct’ annotation – empowering the weaker student

  • Practical workshop session – empower your weaker students by giving them specific vocabulary they can use to ‘unlock’ ideas for their practical work. It removes the ‘fear’, helps those students with limited vocabulary of their own, puts both you and them in control of how it connects with the practical work. This is a crucial strategy for The Portfolio. A02. Workshop – Walking into an image!

12.30 – 1.30pm: Lunch  

1.30pm to 2.30pm: Creative risks, motivation and excitement through non threatening drawing

  • Responding to starting points efficiently is key for a successful student at the beginning the Externally Set Assignment. This session demonstrate ways to do this in practical investigation with launches from an object, location or previous experience.
  • Weaker students can waste time predicting what their ‘final piece’ might be before they start any work! This strategy not only exploits drawing in different ways but allows students the experience and confidence to work open ended and speculatively. A03 Workshop – Working in 2D & 3D imaginatively!

2.30pm to 2.45pm : afternoon break

2.45pm to 3.45 pm: Collaboration, working together with momentum

  • Demonstrating practical strategies which are both fun & allow students to work together in groups. It has also been tried as an observed OFSTED lesson by different teachers with weaker students who have all received ‘Outstanding’! It has been both a great ice breaker for students but also a magnificent way for an art student work quickly from the Externally Set Assignment paper set in January each year. AO4 Workshop – Visual ‘Chinese Whispers’!

3.45 / 4.00pm: Depart

Mark Coombe

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.