This updated course is intended for all teachers of A-level Art and Design: Photography who wish to ensure the high achievement of their students and to challenge their notion of what photography is. The course provides a range of different, innovatory and effective techniques which will give students access to methods and approaches that allow them to explore Photography and reach the highest mark bands in their NEA. The course, led by highly experienced Photography teacher Neil, will inspire teachers, broaden subject knowledge and provide a range of teaching ideas and techniques which they can introduce into lessons immediately. This course will outline what is expected of high ability students and explore ways to build your teaching practice around this, demonstrating how to guide your best students to achieve Grades A & A*.


  • Focused on identifying the demands of Grades A & A* and providing materials to help teachers prepare students effectively
  • Take away new Photoshop, analogue photography and origami techniques which give students access to the top mark bands
  • Sample Photography work at Grades A & A* will be discussed and marked
  • Gain strategies for approaching written work for achieving A and A* grades
  • Take away 6 GB of resources including PPT’s to share with students.
COURSE DATES London | Tuesday 10 December 2019
London | Friday 31 January 2020
  • All teachers of A level Photography
  • Heads of Department for Art and Design
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • 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
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 10.30am
Introduction – hitting the top mark bands

  • Feedback from 2019 – which techniques A and A* students used well and where they could do better
  • Introduction to an array of techniques and approaches to photography showcasing the work of photographers who often use a photograph as a starting point to their image making
  • Powerpoint of photographers that students respond well to
  • Using innovative and imaginative ideas to boost performance: advice on what an A* piece of work should demonstrate

10.30 – 11am
Practical Session 1: Analogue photography outside of the darkroom

  • Techniques to inspire high ability students that improve marks for experimentation
  • Techniques for students to explore, review and refine through the iterative process
  • Using traditional techniques to make imaginative work: selecting appropriate resources and media which enable access to the top grades
  • How to make a chemigram: utlising the skills to gain A and A*
  • Cyanotypes and other alternative photographic processes

11.00 – 11.20am

11.20 – 12.00pm:              DIY and Photography: boosting results with imaginative techniques and approaches

  • Looking at artists who invent, modify and make objects that either refer to photographic processes or are used in the production of photographs and artwork.
  • Encouraging A and A* students to consider photographic approaches and how they relate to social, environmental, cultural and/or ethical contexts
  • Ideas to help foster a spirit of invention, playfulness and curiosity in your students – reaching the top bands through innovative methods
  • Starting points which allow for personal and meaningful responses that attract high marks

12.00 – 12.30pm
Essay writing

  • Feedback on where and why top students can miss marks on the written elements
  • Developing critical analysis skills for Photography
  • Strategies on how to analyse images to A* level – the do’s and don’ts

12.30 – 1.00pm
Practical Session 2: Origami ideas for workbooks 

  • Practical session exploring pop up techniques to improve workbook presentation
  • Creative techniques photography students can present images and ideas in workbooks
  • Techniques to extend marks for experimentation that could be developed into outcome pieces
  • Developing ideas through sustain and focused investigations: analysing examples to demonstrate what differentiates A and A* responses
  • How innovative and imaginative work can boost student performance to the top grades

1.00 – 2.00pm
Lunch and informal discussion

2.00 – 3.00pm
Practical Session 3: Photoshop creativity and accessing the top grades

  • Painting and photography in the history of layering and Multi Me’s (polyposes).
  • Techniques to improve students photoshop understanding and to promote ‘good practice’.
  • Techniques that allow students to demonstrate good knowledge of camera controls and photoshop skills.
  • Layer Masks
  • Multi Me’s
  • Split channels
  • 3D Imaging

3.00 – 3.10 

Afternoon tea and discussion

3.10 – 3.45pm
Outcome Ideas and ensuring A and A* in A level Photography

  • Discussion of how to use the exam time. What you can and can’t do.
  • Deep examination of context – using who?/what?/when?/why? questions to push students
  • Moving away from the printed photograph.
  • Examples of student work and exhibitions: analysing work to see why students got A and A*

Neil Shirreff

Neil taught A-Level Photography for 8 years at Godalming College in an Art Department that consistently achieved outstanding results. He has also taught at foundation and degree level and he currently balances commercial and fine art interests with teaching A Level Photography at City and Islington Sixth Form College in London. He exhibits his personal work regularly and last year exhibited at Photo London at Somerset House.

View all courses led by Neil Shirreff >