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Our Art and Design Curriculum

The Art and Design Curriculum

'Creativity takes courage.'

- Henri Matisse, painter, printer, draughtsman and sculptor 

'You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.'

- Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist


Inspire - The Art and Design Curriculum at Spinney Hill

At Spinney Hill Primary School, we teach a rich, inspiring and balanced art and design curriculum which, based on the National Curriculum programmes of study, both covers a broad range of skills, from sketching, printing and painting to stitching, embroidery and sculpture, and develops children’s understanding and appreciation of art as a cornerstone of every culture and civilisation. The diverse range of artists studied allows children to develop a grounding in the history of art alongside the development of skills and techniques, and this awareness of cultural diversity allows children another distinct way of viewing, understanding and describing the world. Progression in the development of both appreciation and techniques have been carefully mapped out in our art curriculum milestones alongside the vocabulary and concepts children need in order to be able to talk as artists and describe, respond to and evaluate both their own work and that of the artist they are studying. We recognise the importance of art as both a form of expression and a channel which allows child to explore and develop their creativity within different and exciting mediums. Through our art and design curriculum children have the opportunity to study the work of a broad range of contemporary and classical artists and designers. Knowledge and skills are developed across carefully sequenced lessons in which children investigate and evaluate art and design through structured talk and debate, and work towards a mastery of techniques through high-quality modelling and an ‘I, we, you’ approach to teaching. The teachers at Spinney Hill Primary School understand that art affords children a greater freedom in their learning and the opportunity to build their confidence, resilience and perseverance through developing the ability to express themselves creatively.


Support and Grow - How we teach art and design

Our art and design curriculum has been designed to ensure there is clear progression in the acquisition of skills and knowledge across the school. As teachers plan lessons, they refer to prior units of work children will have covered to ensure that there is a firm foundation for new learning and connections are made through the retrieval practice which is incorporated into all lessons. Learning is always supported through high-quality art resources and materials.


A key feature of lessons and a prerequisite to successful learning is the ability of teachers to both talk knowledgably about the area of study and to be able to model skills and techniques accurately and effectively. To support this, teachers ensure, where necessary, they have prepared their own ‘model’ of work which serves to develop both their subject knowledge and confidence in teaching different techniques. This is supported by an agreed structure to units of work which provides a core series of stages around which learning can be developed and which follows the ‘I - we - you’ principle:


  • The first stage introduces the area of study, accompanying vocabulary and delves into the history of the subject or area to provide both context (the ‘hinterland’ knowledge) and to make connections with other areas of learning. For example, a year 1 unit on sculpture begins with discussion and debate on what art is, its purpose and how art can take different forms, including sculpture. In a year 4 unit on impressionism, paintings from the impressionist school are contrasted with more formal realism; exploration, debate and appreciation are nurtured through the provision of sentence stems, debate scaffolds and vocabulary. These allow children to develop both an appreciation of what they are studying alongside the vocabulary necessary to describe what they are doing and how it might differ from what they have done before. Learning is always supported by images, artefacts and simple biographies.
  • The second stage moves on to the ‘we’. Techniques and skills are modelled and guided by the teacher, and children have the opportunity to practice, experiment and innovate step-by-step as they work towards mastering techniques which will enable them to create their own works of art, craft and design. For example, in a year 5 unit on sculpture and the human form, this involves children learning and experimenting how to sketch the human form stylistically before they identify a pose they consider can be modelled in wire. Children evaluate and think critically as they work, again supported by the scaffolds and vocabulary which allow them to structure and articulate the progress they are making.  
  • The third stage removes the scaffolds as children apply the knowledge and skills they are mastering in an independent piece of art work or design before finally evaluating the finished product against.


Every child from year 1 to 6 has their own sketch book which travels up with them through the school. This serves as a concrete record of their learning and also allows children to take pride in their work and evaluate how far they have developed as artists. Where art or design cannot be kept in sketch books, teachers create ‘impact’ pages on notebook as a record of what children have achieved and to showcase what they are capable of achieving.


Achieve - How we ensure children are ready for the next stage in their learning

The impact of our art curriculum is carefully measured in a variety of different ways. Learning walks, work sampling and monitoring of learning environments are carried out by the art curriculum lead to identify how ready children are for the next stage in their learning, how well key skills and techniques have been developed and embedded, and to identify areas in need of development. Pupil interviews and discussion are key to assessing how well pupils are retaining prior-learning and making connections with the new areas of art and design they are studying. In addition to this, each child’s progress is monitored by class teachers who assess them against our milestones. Teachers also create ‘impact’ pages on teams to provide a snap-shot of learning to reflect both what has been covered and to illustrate what children are capable of achieving.