“Every child is an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
Art is incredibly important to our children as it gives them a chance to express themselves in a variety of ways.
‘When children learn to visualise through careful observation and imagine, this can extend into other areas of their learning.’ Agarwal, P 2017
By making observations, questioning artists’ work and the discussions that follow, children are enabled to engage in activities which not only help their fine motor skills but also their social, emotional and cognitive skills.
The concepts for these skills can be found in Chris Quigley’s Threshold Concepts for art and design:
Develop ideas - understanding how ideas develop through the artistic process.
Master techniques –developing a skill set so that ideas may be communicated.
Take inspiration from the greats –learning from both the artistic process and techniques of great artists and artisans throughout history.
Research undertaken by the University of Sydney examined the academic and personal wellbeing outcomes of students from 15 Australian schools over two years. The research found that students who engaged with the arts in schools as active participants – as makers and doers of the arts – were more likely to do better in academic and social spheres than those who passively consumed the arts. Furthermore, research undertaken by The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) concluded that ‘involvement in arts programmes has a positive impact on students’ engagement,’ and that ‘there are strong demonstrated relationships between arts in education and students’ broad academic (including literacy and numeracy) and social achievements.’
At St Dennis Primary Academy, in art and design, we want our children to be creative and engaged with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works in order to become more proficient in the use of a wide range of media. These skills are central to the development of young artists. The essential characteristics of artists, which are outlined in the Chris Quigley Essential’s Curriculum, are encouraged and taught through art and design. As pupils progress through school, they should begin to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. We want children to know how art and design both reflect and shape our history, and contribute to the culture, creativity and wealth of our nation. We aim for our learners to evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design and to know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms.
In order to do this, we follow the breadth of the programmes of study of the National Curriculum for Art and Design. Children from Year 1 to 6 are all taught every week by our art and design subject leader in our dedicated room which allows access to high levels or expertise and enthusiasm, along with a wide range of resources and media. We strive to create a supportive and collaborative ethos for learning by providing investigative and enquiry-based learning opportunities. Emphasis is placed on investigative learning opportunities to help children gain a coherent knowledge of understanding of each unit of work covered throughout the school.
We use the Chris Quigley structure to ensure we implement a coherently planned curriculum underpinned by our drivers. The Threshold Concepts build conceptual understanding and are repeated many times in each topic and this enables children to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections and develop subject specific language, This provides the vertical accumulation of knowledge and skills. Milestones define the standards for the Threshold Concepts and provide clarity about what is to be learnt in each Key Stage.
We aim to integrate learning about great artists, craft makers and designers and use this knowledge to incorporate art techniques into topic-based year group learning. Throughout the school, children are given opportunities to develop their knowledge of artists that are both contemporary and historical from local areas and around the world. This introduces children to a variety of different art forms and techniques as well as making historical and cultural links to enrich and enhance their work.
We also talk about key skills of being an artist and these are in children’s sketch books as a reminder.
Our art and design curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is planned to demonstrate progression. We focus on progression of knowledge and skills and discreet vocabulary progression also form part of the units of work. We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Assessing children’s understanding of topic linked vocabulary before and after the unit is taught
- Summative assessment of pupil discussions about their learning
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning - pupil voice
- Annual reporting of standards across the curriculum
- Assessments of finished pieces
Pupils with Special Education Needs or Disabilities
Appropriate seating arrangements allow all children in the class to communicate, respond and interact with each other and the teacher. Working in pairs and small groups allow opportunities for discussion, peer support and collaboration when working on projects.
Our resources are made accessible through clear labelling in large print which also includes images to encourage independent use. The use of displays of finished or ongoing work are informative and engaging and used as a resource for teaching and learning. Multi-sensory approaches and children's preferred learning styles are identified and built on. A range of approaches are used to support teacher talk including visual aids and alternative communication modes, such as sign or symbol systems.
Children are made aware of any health and safety issues relating to the use of equipment and children with less awareness of dangers, are closely monitored to ensure they are engaging in the activities safely.
We provide planning support through consulting children wherever possible, about the type and level of support they require. Children who have sensory needs or are averse to handling certain materials (such as clay or chalk) are provided with plastic gloves in order for them to feel comfortable in taking part. Children who have sensitivity to light are included by ensuring interactive whiteboards are non-reflective to reduce glare. Support from additional adults is planned to scaffold children’s learning, allowing them, increasingly, to work independently.
How does art promote British Values?
Art lessons provide an opportunity for pupils to engage in making art and at the same time reinforcing the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs in an exciting and visual way.
Examples include the portraiture work Year 2 engage upon when exploring their topic relating to the Monarchy. Their Portraits of the Queen are used as a means to teach about British democracy, the history of our democracy and links to the past. This unit also links to the teaching about the rule of law and how laws are made. All year groups also have an art lesson related to Remembrance. Using various media with objects related to, or symbolic reference of Remembrance reinforces the British value of individual liberty.
As well as the art links with RE and the opportunities to create artwork therein, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs can be seen linked to the Year 3 topic, ‘What makes Great Britain great?’ Here the children create paintings in the style of Kandinsky to incorporate the five main world religious symbols within the painting. This is to symbolise respect for different faiths and beliefs and to show that they all are equally respected in Britain.
Displays of artwork are labelled with British Values evidencing the commitment St Dennis Primary Academy has to promoting British Values.