Art and Design
At Leamington Community Primary School, we aim to provide a happy, secure and stimulating environment in which every child matters and is valued and encouraged to achieve their full potential through the development of a love for learning and a desire to expand their knowledge. We aim to ensure every child has the necessary skills and attributes to be successful in the next stage of their learning.
In order to fulfil our mission, we have adopted the following aims:
- To promote effective learning for all children through high quality teaching – our curriculum is designed with arts and culture at its heart to ensure an immersive experience for all children. We use drama conventions to bring our classrooms alive and enable children to make an emotional response to their learning. Our teachers participate in continuous professional developmental to ensure that teaching continues to be of a high quality, current and relevant.
- To provide a safe, secure, stimulating and welcoming environment where everyone is valued – we use arts and culture in all aspects of school life, and all children are involved, providing an inclusive experience for all. We provide cultural experiences for all children throughout the year and offer many extra-curricular arts and cultural opportunities throughout the school.
- To ensure that our children achieve their full potential and work towards a high standard – we set high expectations of our children in all areas of the curriculum and strive to excel in the arts. We compete in art, dance and drama competitions at the highest level and use robust assessment criteria to help every child achieve their potential in the arts.
- To promote good behaviour through high standards of care and mutual respect – we often use art and culture to address SMSC issues such as bullying, friendship and mental health. We work closely with our learning mentors to ensure that the mental health of our children is closely monitored.
- To foster a mutually supportive partnership between home, school and our neighbourhood – we have many links with partner organisations and use these to celebrate arts and culture within our school. We also invite parents and carers to arts events and work collaboratively with other schools and organisations.
Our Art Curriculum is based on a 2-year cycle in which children will experience all six major art forms three times during their time at our school. The children have the opportunity to experience these art forms in Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and 4) and Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5 and 6) and there is clear progression in the skills taught at each level. The art forms are:
- Digital media
As part of each unit, the children will study an influential artist from this genre. They will cover a range of periods, including classical artists, such as Paul Cezanne, and local contemporary artists such as Keith Drury. Where contemporary artists are used, we try to build links and relationships where possible. We invite artists into school to share their work with the children and use social media and other digital outlets to communicate with them.
We use drama conventions and narrative immersion where possible to make links between our art curriculum and our focus text for the term. We also use artists from the period in which a book may be set, or work that includes characters from a text. For example, Year 4 study the work of Charles Keeping as their text is The Highwayman and Charles Keeping was the illustrator of the original text. Year 5 study the work of Henri Rousseau in preparation for their batik work, which is part of the textiles unit, because it links to their work on the Rainforest.
We have developed a robust set of progression documents that highlight the skills, techniques and knowledge children need at different stages in their primary education. We have highlighted some skills that run across all units, such as drawing, artist studies and evaluation of their own and other’s work, while there are some skills specific to different art forms. We use knowledge of these skills to assess children during each art session and we also assess the children’s knowledge, understanding and skills in these areas at the end of each unit and feedback to parents at the end of the year.
Our art curriculum is enriched through a number of art activities that take place as part of the school year and enable the children to engage with art, take part in workshops and develop their individual skills further.
We run an annual Art Week, where the children use art to explore a theme, which is often linked to SMSC. This year we linked up with the learning mentors and used the anti-bullying message ‘Change starts with us’ to inspire the children’s art work. We concluded the week with a large-scale exhibition in our dance/drama space to which parents, carers and governors were invited.
We often take the children to museums and art galleries to experience art first hand. For example, Year 2 visit The Museum of Liverpool to view Ben Johnson’s Liverpool Skyline painting, and Year 4 visit The Lady Lever Art Gallery to view Henri Matisse’s collages in an exhibition space.
We design trips to museums and galleries around workshops that are on offer from the establishments, or we design our own to meet the needs of our children. For example, Year 4 children take part in a Henri Matisse workshop entitled ‘Painting with Scissors’ in preparation for them making their own collages.
We invite artists into school to deliver workshops and practical sessions. As part of Art Week this year we had a number of artists working with children from Year 1 to Year 6 to produce pieces of art to display in our exhibition based around the anti-bullying message ‘Change starts with us’.
Each term we display children’s work in our Art Gallery. The children all visit the art gallery and vote on their favourite pieces. The votes are collated and then prizes are awarded in our termly celebrations assemblies with parents and carers in attendance.
Our Art Subject Leader has attended Arts Award Advisor training and we run Arts Award with all the children in Year 4. This enables the children to become more active in their learning and also provides an opportunity to celebrate success with their families with a nationally recognised certificate and qualification.
We encourage the children to participate in art activities at home and make sure there is always at least one art project on the homework menu that goes home to parents each term.
We participate in the Dot Art Schools Programme and celebrate the success of our Year 5 children. Each child has a number of pieces if art submitted to the Dot Art programme. These are then displayed online for parents, carers and other family members to vote on. Last year, some of our children were selected to become finalists and were invited to view their artwork in the Finalists Exhibition.
We have also invested in a state-of-the-art Art Hub, which has given us a dedicated space to produce art, but also a place for us to run CPD sessions for our staff and those from elsewhere.
We offer places at our Summer School each year to children from vulnerable families. In the summer holidays the children take part in many art and craft experiences and this allows the children to work collaboratively, reflect on their own thoughts and feelings, and respond to events in an artistic way.
We pride ourselves in our rich opportunities for developing the arts outside the curriculum and we have many opportunities for our children to participate in art activities throughout the school year.
In collaboration with The Bluecoat, an art gallery and workshop space in Liverpool city centre, we run a weekly art club for children in Key Stage 2. Professionals from The Bluecoat and adult volunteers from their ‘Out of the Blue’ community project deliver art sessions and workshops based on work from contemporary artists who are currently on display in The Bluecoat. They also offer free family workshops and free art holiday clubs for the children at our school.
We have an established Arts Council, made up from representatives from each class in Key Stage 2. The council meet on a regular basis to discuss possible arts opportunities they could organise for the school. The children are actively involved in ideas for displays, competitions, mini projects and major school events which are influential in raising the profile of the arts across the school. For example, the Arts Council wanted to run a digital art competition and decided on a photography competition linked to the anti-bullying message of ‘Change starts with us’.
We started ‘The Sketchbook Project’ with funding from Ford Motor Company. The children meet with the Arts Subject Leader each week and work on their sketchbooks together. Once complete, they will be catalogued and housed in the library area of the Art Hub for others to use as inspiration.
Subject Leader: Mrs S. Leach
Knowledge, Understanding and Skills
How has Covid affected the Art & Design Curriculum at Leamington Primary?
What was it like before Lockdown?
Before lockdown, teachers were delivering a broad and balanced curriculum, linked through our Narrative Immersion texts. Art and Design units were planned to meet all the requirements of each key stage and included artist and designer studies, research tasks, planning, implementation and evaluation activities. Teachers were recording the children’s work through sketchbooks, DT books and Seesaw.
What was it like during Lockdown?
During the first lockdown (March – July 2020), Art and Design were used as tools to help the children express their feelings and understand wellbeing and mental health. We did not teach the units specifically as there were so few children in school, and those at home where not set up for online learning. We set regular art challenges on Class Dojo, but not many children engaged with this.
During the second lockdown (Jan – March 2021), we continued to deliver the full primary curriculum online and to the children of key workers that were in school. We provided laptops and wifi dongles to ensure as many children as possible had access to our lessons and we filmed ourselves teaching the input to ensure the children had the same level of quality first teaching as they would have done if they were in school. Some year groups decided to move around some units of work to make online learning more accessible. For example, they may have swapped sculpture making with clay for drawing or painting, but those units will be covered during the remainder of the year.
What was it like after Lockdown?
When we returned to school in September 2020, after the first lockdown, we taught the units from the previous year group that had been missed in the first lockdown. For example, Year 4 children completed tasks from the Year 3 Summer curriculum. As these units were taught in a shorter time as a catch-up curriculum, some of the key skills and knowledge may have been missed. In subject leader monitoring, I will be looking for any skills and knowledge that may need to be covered as the children go up the school. We may use these as the focus for a specific project such as Anti-Bullying Week or we may incorporate them into other units of work.
When we returned to school in March 2021, after the second lockdown, we continued to teach the curriculum from where we had left the last online lesson.
What does the future look like?
We will continue to deliver Art and DT units through the Spring and Summer Terms of 2021 as we would have any other year. In the Summer term, I will be able to assess the true impact to Art and Design and discover if any key skills and knowledge have been missed through the catch-up curriculum. Naturally, not every child at home accessed the online Art and DT lessons provided by their teachers and unfortunately, there is no provision in place for interventions that could cover these skills. In my Summer Term review, I will highlight the key skills and knowledge that will need to be incorporated into other areas of Art and DT where possible, or into other activities, in order to make sure these skills are covered. In 2018, Jonothan Neelands delivered a speech at the second International Theatre and Drama Education Conference in Athens. He observed: “The tragedy is that the most disadvantaged children and young people are the ones that are the least likely to get access to the arts in the curriculum and extremely unlikely to get them as part of their home education. That is where the need is, but they are the ones that are under the most pressure to narrow the curriculum down to basic literacy and numeracy and therefore the arts get cut.”
However, as our curriculum uses a progression of skills, and units are repeated throughout the children’s time with us, they are exposed to some of the key skills and knowledge 3 times. For example, children undertake painting in Year 2, 3 and 6, and digital media in Year 1, 4 and 5, so even if these skills can never be caught up, it is not their only exposure to these aspects of Art and Design.
Following the success of using Art and Design as a tool to explore emotions, wellbeing and mindfulness during lockdown, we will also be incorporating into our Wellbeing Wednesdays. This is an afternoon each week where we explore different mental health topics and often use Art and Design as a way of expressing ourselves.
We are also looking forward to restarting some of our extra-curricular art activities, such as our weekly Art Club that we run with Bluecoat Art Gallery. As social distancing rules get relaxed and we are permitted to mix with the public again, we are looking forward to giving the children real Art and Design experiences such as visiting galleries, inviting artists and designers into school and having hands on experiences such as making healthy pizzas at Pizza Express.
Mrs Stephanie Leach
Art & Design Subject Leader