As part of our journey to be achieve our Artsmark Gold award and being a ‘Gold: Rights Respecting School’ recognised by Unicef, we share the Artsmark belief that ‘every young person should have the opportunity to be creative and to experience and participate in extraordinary arts and culture’. That is why at Castor, we value art and design as it gives children of all abilities opportunities to use their creative imagination to achieve their potential and develop their vision of themselves. It is an important part of the children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum which creates purposeful links to other topics, providing our children with opportunities to explore, respond and reflect in a different medium. Art and design should engage, inspire and challenge children, eventually equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment and create their own work. This is why we value our children observing and recording from first-hand experiences to encourage an appreciation of our local community which is why we provide opportunities for the children to respond to and work with local artists and sculpture trails too. Similarly, our children should know how art both reflects and shaped our history and contributes to the culture and creativity of our nation as we celebrate both traditional and contemporary artists. We also recognise the increasing presence of technology in our developing world and therefore children can further embed their vocabulary and skills in digital media projects such as photography, photo editing and using paint programmes throughout school. As well as creators, we want out children to become evaluators, celebrating their own and one another’s successes as well as thinking about how they can make changes and keep improving.
A skills-based art and design curriculum is taught in whole class groups, followed by group and individual work, rotated each half-term with our design and technology curriculum. Teachers plan lessons for their class using the National Curriculum, long term plans and progression documents which allows for them to carefully link artists and skills to their topic when appropriate. We also support the Access Art charity and recognise their expertise and exercises within each year group. Core skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, collage and printing are revisited and built on throughout school in different contexts. This gives the children the opportunity to both explore different media and refine their skills in more popular media such as watercolour. For each half-term, the children will focus on developing their knowledge in one of these five core skills. Our teachers understand the balance of sensitively modelling a technique with plenty of time for pupils to enjoy open-ended exploration within project-based learning. Within this journey, after being taught the core skill using a specific type of media, children have the opportunity to experiment with media to compare, contrast, and follow their own journey. By doing this, in upper KS2 our children are confident in combining skills and making their own decisions on what techniques to use based on their own personal reflections and the intended purpose of their work based on the teaching, exposure and exploration in previous year groups.
While it is essentially a practical subject, we also provide opportunities for reflection and informed critical evaluations of the children’s own work and the work of artists, commenting on both the process and the outcome. Children’s evaluations are meaningful and continuous throughout the process, with evidence of age-related verbal and written refection. Children record their personal art journeys in sketchbooks which follow them through school. These books were kindly funded by Friends of Castor School and purposely work in isolation from the school’s presentation and marking policies.
In EYFS and Year 1, there are plenty of purposeful art and design opportunities within provision. The children are able to generate ideas through playful, hands-on, exploration of materials without being constricted towards a pre-defined outcome. Art is also recognised in out of hours learning, through the ‘Creative’ challenge column in our termly homework grid and though our Arts Council. The Arts Council was first established in Autumn 2021, and is made up of children in Years 1 to 6 with an interest in arts, whether this is music, performing or art and design itself. The Arts Council members have supported other children in their art and design lessons which is supportive of our school’s vision and community, as well as leading Collective Worships which link the arts to our school’s Christian value of the term, building personal links between the curriculum and our setting.
As a school, we often participate in co-ordinated whole school art and design focus days to celebrate our values as a school, responding creatively and collaboratively and ensuring art and design is given high status in the curriculum. Recently, each year group took part in an art and design themed day where every child in school created a piece of work in response to one of the school’s Christian values that had been shared through different bible stories in collective worship. The work is currently displayed in our school foyer. We have also established links with the local community, with our children creating Christmas cards for patients in Peterborough City Hospital. Children have also created art work to be displayed as part of the village’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in St Kyneburgha’s church as well as gifting some of their art work to the local Castor Lodge Care Home to be buried in their time capsule. Having a purpose and seeing their artwork displayed in the community is inspirational for our children.
We use art and design as a tool for assessing curriculum breadth, as well as for mental wellbeing activities. The new art curriculum has been designed with the strengths of our school setting and the experiences of our children specifically in mind and ensures out children get an immersive creative education tailored to their interests and needs with the most purposeful impact. We measure the impact of our art curriculum through the evidence on displays and in sketchbooks alongside the voices of our children as after all, art is a means of communication. Through the Art Council too, a representation of our children’s voices is regularly heard in discussion with the subject leader. Teachers use their own judgements, via questions and discussion as they observe the children working, providing them with the next steps to their skills and the resources to achieve their visions. Teachers recognise to build on the children’s strengths and their preferred skills whilst also recognising and balancing those that need to be developed. By revisiting skills, children retain their knowledge and are able to develop these skills in even more depth as they progress through the school, recognising and crediting themselves as ‘artists’.