Art & Design
Here at St. John’s, we believe all children have a right to an excellent and rigorous art education. This echoes the National Curriculum for Art and Design, which aims to engage, inspire, and challenge pupils and to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to experiment with and create their own works of art and design. We teach art and design as a distinct subject which enables us to make teaching and learning more rigorous, thus ensuring clear progression. Enriching links to themes or topics will sometimes be made, but from a position of far greater strength and understanding.
Our teachers have high expectations of what children are capable of in the visual arts. We understand that preconceptions can stifle creativity. We aim to take the lid off art and design allowing the subject to flourish. We demonstrate this by giving pupils access to a wide variety of materials and experiences from the outset, allowing them to quickly build their understanding and skills. We believe that teachers should not be afraid to be seen to be learning alongside the children – in fact, by doing this, we become incredibly positive role models.
Our pupils will learn about historical “great” artists and contemporary artists. They will have both female and male creative role models and experience visits from artists, visits to galleries and, when possible, artists’ studios.
Children will experience making art in different contexts with a balance of small and large scaled works, traditional skills and experimental work, two dimensional and three dimensional work. They will work individually, in groups, as a class and as part of whole-school projects. Experimentation, risk, and innovation are encouraged, with the aim of creating confident, independent artists who can articulate and value their own creative journeys.
At St. John’s, Art & Design is taught through a carefully designed, rich, rounded and progressive art curriculum. This takes the National Curriculum as a starting point and develops it further, putting children’s experiences at the centre. Though our explicit art lessons, all children are given the opportunity to explore a variety of ways of working:
Traditional skills should be balanced with experimental work.
Small scale work should be balanced with large scale work.
Quiet reflective study should be balanced with active, dynamic work.
Individual work should be balanced with group work.
Two dimensional work should be balanced with three dimensional work.
Study of historical “great” artists should be balanced with contemporary artists.
In addition, children are given the opportunity to experience:
How it feels to take creative risks as opposed to playing it safe
That chaos and mess can be productive for some people
Diverse creative role models, in gender and culture (including visits from artists/visits to galleries/artists’ studios)
At St. John’s, an ongoing exploration of materials (used for drawing, sculpture, painting, printmaking etc.) will provide an accessible and effective starting point to help the children grow in confidence and understanding, promoting self-directed learning. Manipulating materials helps children explore processes, and these in turn can be applied to concepts. Many of the activities in our renewed curriculum centre around an exploration of materials and processes.
Some of our activities will engage students from the whole school family. This will help pupils or teachers to share areas of expertise with other classes to build knowledge and confidence within the school. A proportion of our teachers do not consider themselves to be ‘artists’ but are not afraid to be seen to be learning alongside their students – thereby providing a positive role model for those children. It is important to us that art activities are not just delivered in order to fill a lesson. Instead, they form part of an overall pedagogy which builds knowledge and understanding in both teachers and pupils.