Intent: why do we teach what we teach?

Art and Design and Design Technology empower young people. Not only do they encourage self-expression and creativity, but also enable pupils to build confidence through inventiveness and problem-solving. Studying both helps to develop critical thinking and the ability to interpret the world around us by presenting challenging ideas visually. Moreover, pupils that study design technology and art, develop a high degree of autonomy, self-management, self-reflection, inventiveness, resilience, and focus.  

We have formed our Art and DT curriculum around the skills and knowledge needed for pupils to be successful designers and art practitioners. As an all-through school, we are in a privileged position to design a spiral curriculum that embeds art in all year groups—enabling pupils to achieve real mastery of the subject. For example, children’s use of clay progresses from organic shapes in Y1, to using the coil method to create Ancient-Greek inspired pots in Y4, to cubist heads in Y9. Similarly, in printmaking, year 1 pupils produce simple monoprints using carbon paper, year 5s create oil pastel intaglio prints, and year 11s experiment with Lino printing in their GCSE portfolios.   

We introduce our pupils to a range of materials and techniques, including ceramics, drawing, painting, textiles, mixed media, photography, and print. We teach how to master these to create art and designed outcomes, that are not only technically advanced but, engage pupils in the process of critical thinking, creativity, and self-expression. By exploring the contribution of a diverse range of artists and designers, the art and design industry helps pupils to skillfully examine their ideas and communicate this through many different pathways.  

In each year, pupils learn about the history and culture of artists and designers and how to create work for different purposes. For example, in year 9 as part of our architecture project, pupils discover what architecture is and the role and history of the architect. However, we also teach and encourage pupils to think like architects and design buildings and shelters for different environments and different purposes. At younger years (YYS), pupils create work linked across the curriculum. For example, in year 1, they explore ‘Little Red’ as a core text. Inspired by the illustrator David Roberts pupils design and make puppets using mixed media, which they later use to practice oracy skills. Design technology is imbedded across the curriculum by designing and making items for a purpose using either textiles, clay, or construction.   

Our curriculum is regularly updated in a variety of diverse ways driven by academic research and our footing as a leading school. Our gurus are Ken Robinson, Richard Hickman, Lesley Burgess, and Nicholas Addison. All the above have contributed significantly to the best practice behind the teaching of art and creative education. Curriculum reviews are based on a thorough analysis of pupils' results throughout the year. This year, for example, our focus has been to teach pupils how to critically analyse in line with the Art and Design GCSE framework. This work has enabled our pupils to be highly reflective learners and raise the profile of art as a highly academic subject.  

At our younger years site (YYS), children gain practical knowledge of art techniques and materials, while developing artistic aptitudes such as experimentation and risk-taking with innovative ideas. This is an opportunity for pupils to play and explore. Pupils’ knowledge and muscle memory is developed by regular practice. They gain confidence with revisiting techniques such as sensitive forwards and backwards sketching and continuous line drawing which develop a culture of error. We aim for children to see art as a process and take pride in their sketchbook work including happy accidents as well as finished final products.  

Moreover, as part of our DT curriculum pupils, pupils design, make and evaluate their work to create outcomes and objects they are proud of. For example, puppet making in KS1, bridge building in LKS2, utility belt making in UKS2, silk painting in year 7 and 3D chocolate bars in year 8. This emphasis on designing and making gives are pupils the opportunity to develop their skills in a wide range of materials and use research to develop their problem-solving skills.  

Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?

Early years pupils benefit from a highly creative curriculum where expressive art and design are part of their daily provision. Pupils are offered concrete experiences integrated within half termly topics which require them to use increasingly more complex and evaluative skills and is tightly tied into pupil’s development with fine motor control. Classrooms are set up to promote a workshop approach with pupils having independent access to a range of quality materials and tools as well as imaginative small world and music provision. In our outdoor areas, pupils take part in performances, large scale mark making activities and role play. Skilled practitioners plan and model the use of tools and techniques to create with purpose. Children learn from these interactions, replicating and innovating when pursuing their own creative interests. This comprehensive approach means that pupils are continually producing their own creative work, developing proficiency in drawing, and painting alongside other techniques, and beginning to evaluate and adapt their work. This provides a solid grounding for the technical and evaluative art curriculum in KS1.  

At KS1, pupils study six topics throughout the year. Each topic contains five sessions that follow a similar pattern. Initially, pupils generate ideas inspired by an artist or genre and complete pencil sketches. Further lessons will explore new media or concepts such as scale or composition. The final lessons will encourage independence and a more personal interpretation of an idea, which pupils will evaluate verbally. For topics with a design technology focus pupils produce a final product such as a clay pot or textile dragon. All topics include sketching skills which develop towards painting, printing, or three-dimensional work.  

At KS1 and KS2, Topic themes in art often have cross-curricular links as a starting point but are discreetly art focused. For example, year 3 pupils in class study fox hunting and Fantastic Mr. Fox. In art, we take these themes and explore the fauvist fox paintings of Franz Marc. In KS2, art projects are linked to the english curriculum by drawing themes from the key text for that term. For example, in year 6 the story Clock Work is used to explore the theme of time and the work of surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali. However, to ensure broader coverage some topics are standalone such as exploring cave art in year 1 and what is art? In Year 5. These projects lend themselves to specific media and the building blocks of art and design, the formal elements. Moreover, Topics may also be chosen to encourage a particular aptitude such as risk-taking. The take a line for a walk topic at the start of Y4 hopes to preempt developmental concerns such as self-consciousness in art around the age of eight. Topics are constantly reevaluated and adapted to improve coherency and ensure progress. 

At KS3, pupils complete three projects each year. These are built around the national curriculum for art and design and design technology. In year 7 pupils begin by studying the practice of drawing with different mediums in term one and two. They then progress onto painting through art and design and textile design. This helps pupils to enhance and practice these skills at a more advanced level each year. For example, observational drawing in year 7, to grid drawing in year 8, and 2-point perspective drawing in year 9. Therefore, projects at KS3 have been selected because they are an integral part of our spiral curriculum. Projects such as identity are selected because they are GCSE art and design questions revisited in KS4, so they prepare pupils to respond to the GCSE assessment criteria. Moreover, projects such as portraiture, typography and architecture are introduced to allow pupils to build on and develop their artistic and making skills.  

A lot of work has been done to ensure that our all-through art curriculum is diverse and celebrates the work artists, makers and designers from across the world and throughout history. For example, our lead teacher of art has developed a collaborative Black Lives Matter art encyclopedia within our Ark network to ensure breadth and scope in planning. Moreover, many PSHE, philosophy and ethics, and whole school priorities are also explored such as learning difficulties, mental health and climate change. All lessons are grounded in creative industries and art and design history and place great emphasis on being able to write about and analyse the work of artists and designers. Homework is also carefully planned around the scheme of work so that pupils can practice their skills and develop their own ideas by gathering research or producing digital outcomes. At KS2 homework takes place in large termly challenges and projects. For example, pupils at KS2 recently created architectural models using sustainable materials, with a selection of pupils having the opportunity to meet and share these with Farrells Architectural firm.   

At KS4, pupils complete two projects as part of component 1. The first project is a  short project based on the theme nature in which pupils explore and experiment with a range of materials. This project also gives pupils the opportunity to develop their own style in art and discover the work of artist through their own personal exploration. They then complete a sustained project, which is a mock exam project based on the theme identity. Pupils create work against the AQA GCSE assessment criteria and produce a final piece in exam conditions at the end of the project. This project prepares pupils for component 2, an externally set task set by the exam board. For component 2, pupils are given an exam paper and select an exam question. They are then given 5 months to work on this portfolio and complete a final response in a 10-hour art exam at the end of year 11.  

All through Art curriculum objectives:  

  • EYFS (2 year olds to Reception) 
  • To use relevant vocabulary to support explorations in multi-sensory ways of textures, movement, feel and look of different media and materials.  
  • To develop an understanding that they can manipulate and create effects with a wide range of media and materials. 
  • To use different media and materials to support the expression of their own ideas. 
  • To construct with a purpose in mind using a variety of resources to create models, props and simple stories which are used during child-led play. 
  • To use simple resources, tools and techniques competently and appropriately to create something new to express their creativity.  
  • To revisit and adapt work where necessary to create and change a picture or model.  
  • To safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function. To use what they have learned to create with a purpose, explaining the process. 
  • KS1 To use a range of materials creatively to design and make products 
  • To use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination 
  • To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space  
  • Learn about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and making links to their own work. 


  • To develop their techniques, control, and application of materials (clay, pencil, painting, 3D construction, collage) 
  • To use materials and techniques with creativity 
  • To experiment with varied materials  
  • To be able to recognise distinct kinds of art, craft and design. I.e., ceramics, architecture, photography 
  • To identify renowned artists, architects, and designers in history 
  • To be able to design products using research so to create products that respond to real problems 
  • To be able to construct and make by selecting applying appropriate materials  
  • To be able to evaluate their ideas and the ideas of others to measure their own progress.  


  • To be able to use a range of techniques to record ideas in sketchbooks so to use their sketchbook as a place to explore ideas  
  • To be able to select and apply a range of techniques and media 
  • To be able to use materials with confidence and increase their ability to handle them  
  • To be able to critically analyse and assess their own work, and that of others, to improve their work   
  • To use research and exploration to design suitable products and successful outcomes.  
  • To be able to discuss, recognise, and analyse the work of artists and designers and key periods, styles, and major movements.  
  • To understand developments in technology and its impact upon the environment, society, and designers, artists, and crafts professionals.  
  • To be able to generate personal responses that combine creative ideas and research 

At KS4 pupils follow the GCSE Art, Craft, and design Criteria for AQA:  

  • A01: Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources. 
  • A02: Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting, and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques, and processes. 
  • A03: Record ideas, observations, and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses. 
  • AO4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language. 

Break-down of curriculum delivery to each Key Stage:  

Year Group

Allocated hours

Organisation of pupil’s work


Daily during indoor and outdoor exploration

Work samples and photographs of pupil’s independent work are collected, annotated and added to their learning journal.


1 lesson period

Sketch books


1 lesson period

Optional enrichment (1 hour)

Sketch books

Larger pieces created outside book


1 x 55 minutes

Optional enrichment (1 hour 30 minutes)

Sketch books

Larger pieces created outside book


3 x 55 minutes

Enrichment (GCSE Art intervention 1 hour 30 minutes)

Sketch books

Larger pieces created outside book


We use sketchbooks from Year 1 right through the school. Sketchbooks are used as a journal to document ideas and present work so that it tells a story and shows development of skills and knowledge. Larger pieces are then informed by sketchbooks and created alongside them. For example, at KS2 and KS3 sketchbooks are portfolios in which pupils respond to artists, mind map ideas, plan, experiment, and design outcomes. Pupils are immensely proud of their sketch books, in KS3 pupils often select work from them as portfolio pieces for their KSA  Portfolios. Moreover, in KS1 pupils share these during parents evening and each week one child per class is invited to put their sketchbook on display at the end of the lesson. 

However, we do acknowledge that some pupils will feel less confident working in a sketchbook. Therefore, we also encourage risk-taking and do not overemphasis that sketchbooks must have tidy or neat outcomes. Instead, we promote joyous application and emphasis on sketchbooks being a working journal. Moreover, at KS4 we offer pupils choice as artists to display their work in display folders or display boards if they would prefer to do this. All pupils at YYS and OYS always start lessons with a Do Now, however in art this is not always written, for example pupils revisit mini sketching tasks or practice art techniques. Therefore, sketchbooks are a wonderful way to show progress in knowledge and skills, but also align the subject of art and design to the brilliant routines for learning we have across our school. Children also produce work outside of their books such as sculptures, models, larger works, and collaborative pieces, which they take home at the end of a topic. Examples are often recorded on Twitter and put on display to share with the community. 

Our teachers: 

Our lead teacher of art at OYS is also an experienced artist who has taught across the UK in galleries as well as schools. They are currently completing an MA in Education: Culture, Language and Identity, they have a PGCE in Secondary Art and Design, and First Cass Honours in Fine Art (painting). Having a skilled and experienced subject specialist ensures pupils experience working in a range of advanced materials, subject matter, and techniques. Our lead teacher of art also teaches in KS2, ensuring a robust foundation for art is laid in KS2 in terms of our curriculum, medium term plans and lesson plans.  She works collaboratively with our art teachers on our Younger Years Site to ensure breadth and progression throughout the key stages. 

Our younger years art teacher has many years’ experiences as both a primary class teacher in all key stages from nursery to year 3 and an art specialist. She has an Honours degree in Fine Art (painting) and has continued with further art study in recent years. The YY’s art teacher creates planning and PowerPoints for years 1-4. She provides support to her colleagues throughout the site. 

Support in Art:  

All pupils access the same curriculum - we have the same expectations of all our learners to be able to master challenging materials and take creative risks. All pupils can access each lesson, and there is a focus on drawing as well as a broad range of art practices. We encourage pupils to use a variety of materials and techniques in their work and find the ones that suit them, for example, clay and print. We allow autonomy in how our pupils learn in art, fostering a genuine love of the subject.  

We support SEND pupils using models, intentional monitoring, scaffolded lessons, equipment and resources, assessment and feedback, enrichment, and out of classroom teaching. Furthermore, we support these pupils by ensuring that in each lesson, there is an intrinsic link to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. For example, pupils write about art, analyse a piece of text, draw using symmetry and geometry, and look at chemical reactions between different art materials. This approach supports all pupils in art and means that art is a subject student able to access and supported in.  

Monitoring the implementation:  

A midterm plan evaluation happens at the beginning of every half term with SLT, ensuring lessons are logically sequenced, rigorous activities are set, and lessons are appropriately challenging.  

We give pupils in every year group an overview of each project, as well as a list of keywords to develop their vocabulary in art. Furthermore, in Y11, pupils also have dated checklists and broken-down assessment criterion for GCSE Art and Design. Over time, we are interested in building routines around ingraining these GCSE assessment criteria into all year groups as they are the fundamental building blocks in art: 

  • Research (AO1) 
  • Record (AO2) 
  • Experiment (AO3) 
  • Respond (AO4)  

Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?


In alignment with assessment in the Early Years, practitioners observe the children in play, using skilful interactions to model tools and techniques, make commentary and ask questions. This recurring process supports children to be curious and explore their own creative pursuits. Children show what they know through their creative expressions which may include artwork, models, props, storytelling, musical and sensory explorations. Some of these are captured as ‘memorable moments’, usually in work samples, photographs or observations. These are collected in pupil’s learning journals to support practitioner’s judgements of how well pupils are meeting the developmental milestones in Expressive Art and Design and to support planning for the creative provision.

From years 1-4 teachers use formative assessment to track individual pupil’s progress. We record 4 areas throughout the year, which encompass all topics. These include artistic presentation, experimentation, and fine motor ability, as well as links to the school ethos, for example we value collaborative attitude which links to the strand ‘work together’.

In Y5 and 6 formative assessment is also used to track progress and give feedback to improve pupils' outcomes. This may be in the form of verbal feedback, peer feedback and written feedback. Baseline assessments are also completed at the beginning of year 5 and year 6 to inform the teacher of each student's skills and knowledge in art and DT.

At the beginning of KS3 pupils sit a baseline assessment which informs the teacher of each pupil's skill and knowledge, so lessons can be adapted to bridge any gaps in understanding. Pupils in KS3 are also assessed at the end of HT2 and HT4 to give a ‘working at’ grade. They complete a written art exam as well as a practical exam (drawing and painting). The end of year grade that our pupils receive is a culmination of all four skills (research, record, experiment, and respond).

KS4 pupils work is assessed each half term by the Lead Teacher of Art (book look) and pupils sit mock exams in both year 10 and 11. These mock exams are similar to the 10-hour practical exam sat in year 11, in which pupils produce a personal outcome in response to a chosen exam question.

Below is the break-down of how we assess our pupils:


Nursery and Reception

Observational assessment against 6 monthly developmental milestones for the Expressive Art & Design learning area

Year 1 - 6

Ongoing formative assessment

Year 7

HT1: Baseline Skills Assessment (drawing), knowledge quiz

HT2: Skills Assessment (drawing), Knowledge quiz

HT4: Skills Assessment (painting), Knowledge quiz

HT6: Skills Assessment (Artist response), Written exam

Year 8 and 9

HT2: Skills Assessment (drawing), Knowledge quiz

HT4: Skills Assessment (painting), Knowledge quiz

HT6: Skills Assessment (Artist response), Written exam

Year 10

HT1: Book Look

HT2: Drawing assessment, written response

HT3: Book Look

HT4: Experimentation assessment, written response

HT5: Book Look

HT6: Mock Exam 

Year 11

HT1: Book Look

HT2: Mock Exam

HT3: Book Look

HT4: Book Look


After each checkpoint, there is a re-teach lesson where teachers re-visit content that pupils may not have mastered. These lessons ensure that pupils are given every possible opportunity to reflect on their learning and secure their knowledge of art. The class teacher records assessment data. Every year we reflect on the results of the above assessments and make plans on how to adapt the curriculum.

Diagnostic and formative assessment is used throughout projects to identity misconceptions of a topic and provide feedback in every lesson. Examples of this include entry/exit tickets, peer feedback and self-reflection in sketchbooks, think/pair/share, art critiques, pupil-led demonstrations and homework.

We are working towards setting homework tasks for all pupils that consolidate classwork. Homework at KS3 and KS4 is set weekly and during school holidays. As the GCSE Art and Design coursework is intensive, homework plays a fundamental role in ensuring pupils complete high-quality coursework that covers all assessment objectives. All pupils receive feedback on their art homework and homework is assessed by the teacher to inform marking and check progress.


This year we saw GCSE pupils go on to study courses in Photography, Graphic Design, and Art at college. Art is a popular option subject at GCSE and our year 10 class next year will be the largest we have ever had. We are very excited about these figures. We wish to recruit more boys to study art at KS4 and hope, as our department grows, to offer more pupils the opportunity to study art at KS5.

Five things we are proud of:

1) The subject knowledge of our specialist teachers, offering a broad range of materials and techniques to our pupils

2) A diverse and progressive curriculum

3) Pupils going on to study creative subjects at KS5

4) Fully integrated KS2 and KS1 curriculum

5) Enrichment opportunities in Art. In 2021, 5 of our pupils exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery as part of the Westminster Creative Collective. We also have our first art mural at OYS painted in collaboration with the renowned artist PINS (push it never stop!)