Quick Links

Useful Links

Part of castle school education trust

"Castle School Education Trust is committed to high quality education across the primary, secondary and sixth form key stages. Our schools cover the South Gloucestershire area. We encourage independence within each school within a strong framework of values."

Visit Website

Mangotsfield Secondary

  •           Year 6 Summer Days on 21st & 22nd August 2024. 



Why do we study Photography?

Photography has become so accessible for people of all ages, from all walks of life, and in every community and culture. Whether we use a professional camera, a mobile phone or a polaroid, we capture memories, record events, create works of art and promote our interests within an increasingly visual world, with billions of images surrounding us throughout our lives.

Students at Mangotsfield are taught to use the camera as a creative tool. We build their understanding of its functions and how they can manipulate these for effect, with the intention of capturing imagery of a high technical quality on camera, rather than relying on editing and post production. Whilst we have a large range of DSLR cameras available to students, we also explore how cameras on our phones can be cleverly used for home learning to mimic the use of a DSLR. Composition is a key area which filters through every part of our work, as we explore movement and shutter speeds, depth of field and focus, through exciting themes such as light painting, food photography, splash photography and advertising techniques.

Meet the team

  • Mrs A Smedley - Head of Photography 

Course: AQA Photography GCSE

60% Coursework and 40% Exam Unit

Assessment: Students are assessed on several units of work.  The exam theme is selected  from the exam paper by the student and takes roughly 12 weeks.  All units cover the following areas of assessment:

  1. How students’ own ideas are developed, in part through exploring others’ works and techniques.
  2. Range and quality of experimentation undertaken, plus students’ ability to refine and develop.
  3. The quality of photographs in their original state; methods used to record and present the work.
  4. Students’ ability to develop their own purposeful and meaningful imagery to create their final pieces.

GCSE Programme of Study


During GCSE Photography in Year 10 we build basic skills initially using a simpler shoot mode (P - Programmable Auto) and explore Composition and Formal Elements. These are key to the success of any ‘good’ photograph, and we introduce these  through themes such as Architecture and Still Life. 

After Christmas we develop a deeper technical understanding by using more complex shoot modes, such as TV (control of the Shutter speed), AV (control of the Aperture size) and M (full Manual requiring students to control all functions). We explore their use through subject matter such as Light Painting, and Food Photography, developing our digital skills further and our presentation also. The two main units undertaken this year give students the opportunity to develop their ideas further, by investigating personally chosen sources of inspiration and the time to work more independently towards a final outcome, and prepare them for the final coursework unit on Advertising.


During GCSE Photography in Year 11 students undertake a final unit of coursework until mid-January. Students experiment with materials and lighting within a shoot, to explore techniques seen in advertising shots; this includes creative use of lighting for effect, using substances such as water for splash shoots, and experimentation and refinement to a high level.  

From mid-January they work on their exam, worth 40% of their grade. The AQA board exam requires a student to choose one of seven options. This chosen option will be the subject of their work until late April / early May.

Students will study an advertising techniques unit in Year 11.  This unit includes many techniques such as mixed media, Photoshop, projections, creative lighting, and unusual viewpoints. Research into ‘tricks of the trade’ has helped students to discover that backlighting creates effective shots of water and smoke, and professional photographers use mashed potato for ice cream shoots! The aim of this final coursework unit is to prepare for the exam, encouraging independent development and refinement, through trouble shooting and reviewing.

 Enrichment Opportunities

This includes a ‘Shoot Trip’ after which students create a photo book of the location.  Students also have opportunities to visit photography exhibitions at different Art Galleries including the National Portrait Gallery in London.  As part of the Creative Arts extra curricular offer, students are able to take part in a range of photography workshops.

Homework in Photography

Students are given a variety of homework assignments within photography including research on prominent photographers and practical photoshoot tasks to support learning in the classroom.  Students are also encouraged to use the school’s photography studio.