“Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.” - Henry Miller
What do we want for our children?
Art is more than just learning how to draw and paint. It has long been used as a political and cultural tool, a way of disseminating and sharing ideas, beliefs and experiences. It provides a window into the culture, society and history of generations gone by, and those to come.
At Preston Park we recognise the immense value of art and the role it has in enhancing our pupils’ lives and their understanding of the world. We aim to teach a balanced and rich curriculum that will inspire pupils to express themselves creatively, and develop a natural sense of curiosity about the world around them. Art is taught each term, and although our units of learning are usually 'stand-alone' topics in their own right, most connect with other curriculum topics. Visits to world-class galleries and having the opportunity to display their work in the National Portrait Gallery ignites children's interest and encourages engagement with their learning.
Through our art curriculum children can harness and channel their innate creativity. We want our pupils to experience art in a way that resonates with them. We wish them to understand how art connects us to our past, present and future. At the centre of our curriculum - which stretches from the Stone Age to Post Modernism are the questions:
- What is art?
- How is art made?
- What is art for?
- Who is art for?
We wish to foster artists who are confident to explore ideas and are visually literate, independent and critical thinkers, able to evaluate and analyse creative works whilst employing the language of art. It is our aim that by year six children, will have discovered an aspect - among the wide range of disciplines that art has to offer - that resounds with them. We also wish to install the belief that art can be pursued as a career choice and that artists are as valuable to societies as mathematicians or scientists. We have a dedicated, well-resourced Art Room were children are exposed to a wide variety of practices from years 1 - 6. We are immensely proud of our children’s artworks and they are displayed prominently throughout the school.
How do we deliver this effectively?
Since 2016, our curriculum development and practice has been largely inspired by content from Access Art,  a ground-breaking art education charity. Art topics are taught across a 6 week period. Classes visit our specialist Art Room on a rotational basis. They may also be taught by their art by class teachers. Cultural capital opportunities are planned to support learning outside the school environment. Our aim is to for every year group from Year 1 to 6 visit a leading art institution once a year.
Each unit of learning is planned around one or two of the visual elements of art, which are then linked to a particular artistic movement, artist or skill, or a combination of all. Children’s understanding of the core skills highlighted within each unit will grow over a sequence of lessons, through various practical tasks. The planned sessions build towards one or more main artistic outcomes, with value also being given to preliminary sketches and exploratory pieces of work. Discussion and visual analysis of art works is encouraged in every art lesson.
At the end of each unit, children will spend time evaluating their own final outcome and considering their personal learning journey. They will also be encouraged to critically evaluate the work of their peers, and engage in discussion to provide constructive and useful feedback.
- Significant artistic movements, style and artists/designers from around the world
- Key works of art – linked to the above
- Chronological knowledge/understanding – dates, events, comparisons
- Artistic and art historical vocabulary and terms
- Observation and visual analysis – ‘reading’ a work of art
- Drawing – grades of pencils and drawing materials, line, form, shading, tone
- Painting – different techniques and styles, colour, light
- Printing – graphics and design, colour, pattern and repetition
- Collage (mixed-media)
- Sculptural form - 3D modelling in clay, playdough, papier-mâché
We ensure that our art lessons follow both a skills-based and knowledge-rich curriculum in line with the National Curriculum. We incorporate both the history of art and the practical aspects of the subject through each unit of learning, giving equal attention to the development of skills across these two areas.
Learning through art is markedly different to other subjects and is much more than learning a series of technical skills. Our approach is non-prescriptive, rather we act as facilitators for exploration, experimentation and discovery. Ours is a holistic approach to teaching and learning which echoes the school’s ethos and intent. At Preston Park, our bespoke curriculum is fluid, rich and ambitious and is designed to complement many of the core texts used in our English curriculum and pupil’s learning in history, geography and science to ensure a meaningful cross-curricular approach. The curriculum is grounded in drawing, painting, sculpture and making and exposes pupils to a diverse range of artists and craftspeople from around the world.
Our children have the opportunity to explore major artistic movements and cultural styles from around the world. They study a diverse range of male and female artists and designers throughout history, and learn to understand the visual language of art through regular discussion, comparison and critical visual analysis. Children are taught subject specific vocabulary and are encouraged to use this language when evaluating or discussing an artist, movement of work of art.
At Preston Park, children are encouraged to be reflective and to evaluate their work throughout the creative process, and in particular, following the completion of their final outcome. Art works are displayed around the classroom, and children are allowed to explore the work of their peers, offering supportive or constructive comments. We see this as a crucial part of the learning cycle, and a meaningful way to conclude each unit of learning.
Evidence of learning is collected and displayed within the children’s art sketchbooks. Evidence of verbal or written reflection and annotation is included within the sketchbook, where possible. The sketchbook also contains photographs of larger works of art, those produced as a group, and any sculptural outcomes.
We have an inclusive approach which supports children with SEND. At Preston Park, teachers adapt and tailor their lessons to meet both the learning and physical needs of all children. We view art as an inclusive subject where all children can flourish and express themselves. We understand that some elements may need to be adapted for some of our learners. Our Art Specialist and class teachers will consider if different tools or materials need to be used to allow a child to fully engage in the learning. Sometimes a child will be given extra time to complete the task or will have been pre taught the skills prior to the lesson.
What does this look for our children?
Each unit meets the criteria of the National Curriculum , extending children’s art historical knowledge and developing their artistic skills. As children move through year groups, they will build upon taught skills, working with increasing accuracy, independence and creativity. Artistic skills and techniques are revisited and built upon on rotation as the children move through the different key stages.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children follow the Development Matters framework  and experience a daily art activity as part of their Continuous Provision. In addition, they are taught by a specialist art teacher on a rotational basis. In both instances art activities have strong cross-curricular links. Art is also taught discretely through play and child-led activities. Learning opportunities for Art are planned for both inside and outside the classroom, and these link where possible to the weekly learning intentions as well as the children’s interests. These could include drawing or making a character from an English text or working on a large-scale collaborative project.
Children are actively encouraged to independently explore artistic pursuits, including mark-making, painting, junk modelling and other aspects of creative play through one of the 7 areas of learning; ‘Expressive arts and design’. In this area children develop their imagination, creativity and their ability to use media and materials. Children do this in a range of ways including singing songs and making music, dancing, playing with colours, textures and designs. This emerging knowledge and understanding can be used to explore crucial early artistic skills. By the time children are in Reception, they will be increasingly able to use what they have learnt to independently explore their own artistic ideas.
The early learning goals in the EYFS aim to guide children in their exploration and experimentation of materials, tools, colours and textures. Through this, they can begin to attribute meaning to the marks and shapes they make. Children’s learning in the EYFS forms the foundation for their future learning experiences in Key Stage 1 and beyond.
Key Stage One (Years One and Two)
During Key Stage One, children become more familiar with a wide range of media, exploring the ‘formal’ elements of art: colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space. They learn about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and make links to their own work.
Who am I?
Children explore their identity through a range of media including photography.
Children use the text, How to Catch a Star as a starting point for imaginative drawings and collages around the theme of space.
Puppets for Storytelling
Children make a puppet to illustrate a character from the Paper Bag Princess.
Children draw, paint and print using bulbs, seeds and plants from life.
Children are introduced to watercolour discovering what it can do, how it acts and how they can “control” it.
Children explore a range of printing techniques inspired by the school’s outside environment.
Journeys: Shoe Sculptures
Design and create a fantasy shoe sculpture using recycled shoes remodelled with found objects and mod roc.
Children can then construct their own fantasy London architecture.
Under the Sea
Children explore and experiment with colour, line, shape, pattern and texture by drawing, painting and printing sea creatures.
Is Plastic Fantastic?
Children make 3D artworks exploring the environmental issues facing our seas and oceans.
Into the Forest
Children use Anthony Browne’s, Into the Forest as inspiration. To create their own illustrations.
Whatever the weather –
Children explore how to represent different types of weather
Lower Key Stage Two (Years Three and Four)
During year 3 and 4, children will continue to develop their techniques and become more aware of which media they enjoy the most. They will develop an increasing awareness of different kinds of art, craft and design. Children will create sketch books to record their observations and use them to review and revisit ideas and to improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials [for example, pencil, charcoal, paint, clay] about great artists, architects and designers in history. Children also keep sketchbooks to record their learning journeys and develop their unique ideas and review and revisit themes.
Ancient Egypt: Into the Tomb
Children ‘paint with scissors’ to create a large-scale ancient Egyptian wall frieze.
Exploring rocks, soil and fossils.
Children investigate how the Earth’s natural resources can be used to make art.
Ancient Roman Fashion
Children design clothing inspired by the ancient Romans.
Take One Picture
Annual project facilitated by the National Gallery. A child-led response to a painting selected by the gallery.
Children will make sculptural equivalents of characters from film and literature.
Children use the ceramic artefacts of the Indus Valley civilisation as a starting point to make their own ceramic designs.
Witches, wizards, spells and potions.
Children make an apothecary of fantastic potions.
Power and portraiture – the Elizabethans
Children will explore how the Elizabethans conveyed power through portraiture with symbols and constructed imagery.
Children will construct masks of endangered animals form around the world.
Expressive painting and sculpture project exploring in detail the inner workings of exotic plants.
Art in the Islamic Golden Age
Children create tessellations and clay tiles inspired by the art of the Islamic Golden
How to Draw Your DragonChildren imagine their own dragons inspired by the book, How to Train Your Dragon.
Upper Key Stage Two (Years Five and Six)
Children will continue to revisit all of the media from earlier years and enhance their technical skills. By this point pupils will have strong foundations on which to build upon and make more informed choices about their creativity. Sketchbooks become more markedly personalised and we encourage children to make more informed, independent choices about which materials they choose to use to undertake a project.
Progression in Skills and Understanding
Effective teaching and carefully planned and resourced lessons allow children to develop proficiency and confidence in drawing, painting, printing and sculpture. Progression of these core skills is made year on year, with greater emphasis being placed on accuracy and quality by upper Key Stage 2. As well as the development of artistic skill, children develop an understanding of colour, line, form and the other visual elements of art through the practical aspects of their lessons.
Progression is art is not linear, which reflects the unique nature of the subject. Drawing, mark-making, colour mixing, painting, sculpting and making activities are introduced in Early Years and these continue to be are weaved and layered throughout the curriculum and revisited continuously through to Year 6. Because there are not national standards in Primary art we approach assessment in a holistic way that not only includes end outcomes but important factors such as intention and children’s understanding of key concepts.
How does this contribute to and develop our 21st Century learner?
A consistently well-rounded and thorough experience of learning in art will guide pupils to understand the important role that art has and will play in society, as both a historical and cultural tool. It will teach children the skills that enable them to realise their own artistic potential, and represent their own experiences creatively.
Research frames our thinking in what we teach and how we deliver it to our children to ensure teaching and learning has maximum impact.
Please see references to the research linked above:
Our approach is underpinned by the principles endorsed by the ground-breaking arts education charity, Access Art. Access Art’s approach to art education informs our curriculum content.
Some aspects of our programmes of study borrow directly or have been adapted from their exemplar Primary Art Curriculum.