From the earliest times, artistic expression has been part of what makes us human. Art ignites the creative impulse; it gets us thinking and feeling. Our individual experiences of art may differ, but its powerful legacy touches us all. In school, drawing and painting become a unique way for children to shape and share their ideas. They get to be hands on and learn to be bold with the freedom to go wherever something takes them.
In the subject of art and design, learning centres on both making art, and engaging with the worth and power of art through the study of artworks and artists. The main visual artforms are all represented in the Strand curriculum; the diverse range of artists that children encounter is an inspiring mix of the greats from history and contemporary contributors from across the globe.
Content is typically organised into projects structured around a theme. Sometimes, but not always, the project is connected to another subject. For example, in Year 5 the ‘space’ art unit coincides with learning about the solar system in science. Whatever the stimulus, teaching integrates related knowledge, skills and concepts, with an emphasis that is sometimes about outcome but equally concerned with process.
Three core strands underpin our art and design curriculum:
The knowledge and skill of how to draw, paint, make and design. This includes experience of and practice with the tools, materials and processes used in the creation of different artforms.
Knowledge and understanding of the elements of art, its cultural importance and its inspirational artworks and artists. Our aim is for Strand children to acquire the vocabulary, concepts and attitudes to be able to contribute to the great conversation about art.
The exploration, experimentation and thought processes that lead to innovative or original work. As knowledge and skill develop, children gain confidence in the planning, production and evaluation of creative work.
Studying the work of artists is an integral part of art lessons and also occurs in other subjects, particularly the humanities. Whilst some pictures may be enjoyed at first glance, others benefit from deeper exploration to elicit a thoughtful personal response. Art planning references particular artists, architects and design movements to provide a starting point and ensure breadth of coverage. The inclusion of contemporary contributors, and the opportunities for teachers to draw upon their own subject knowledge makes this a dynamic curriculum capable of adapting to current, local or topical content.
During their four years at Strand Juniors, we also aim to take our learners to a gallery and give them the chance to participate in the National Gallery’s ‘Take One Picture’ programme.
Art is taught by class teachers as part of the normal weekly timetable. Projects vary in length from just a couple of lessons to half a term. Each project has a focus of one or more of the main visual artforms.
Drawing and painting are given special emphasis. Our intention is for children to develop their proficiency in these core techniques through regular study, experimentation and practice.
3D/sculpture is also a focus at least once every academic year and sketchbooks are used continuously. Other mediums follow a spiral structure: they are introduced in the lower school (Y3/4) and reoccur at least once in subsequent years so children can build on their experience during the key stage.
|Studied Annually||Lower and Upper School Spiral|
ProgressionArt projects are sequenced so that skills and understanding build across a series of lessons in preparation for children’s own interpretation of a brief. This includes thinking critically about the way artists create effects as well as children’s own exploration of techniques, materials and concepts. Over the course of the unit, learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need to engage with the artistic focus.
The long arc of progress, where learners gradually develop their control and mastery of technique in drawing and painting, is also planned into our curriculum. Skill sets of small incremental steps are systematically introduced in a progression that runs from Year 3 to Year 6. Once taught, these techniques become part of a learner’s drawing or painting repertoire to be practised and applied in many future contexts. This means that over time children’s proficiency grows.
Click here to see our progression model
The elements of art provide a framework for thinking, talking about and creating art. The particular focus within a lesson or project determines which of these elements will be explored as part of children’s learning. Over time, an understanding of these ideas is developed through engagement with artists’ work and practical projects.
Use of a sketchbook forms part of the teaching sequence in every project. The books provide a place to record personal responses to artists’ work as well as practising techniques or experimenting with different processes and effects. Our aim is that children use these books as a source inspiration for creative decisions as well as a place to test out their thinking.
Developing Creative Independence
Many children enjoy art and thrive on the chance to be creative. As with any form of creativity, innovating or inventing becomes easier with practice and experience. Our aim is to strike a balance between learning that develops skill and conceptual understanding, and opportunities to maximise creative independence. This helps to support children in gaining the confidence, knowledge and experience from which self expression can flow. In many of our projects, the sequence of learning moves gradually from early lessons of modelled practice through subsequent opportunities to explore and finally more self-directed activity. As age and experience grow, some projects offer considerable creative latitude in the interpretation of a theme.