Intent: Why teach art?

At an individual level, a high-quality art education can build pupils’ ability to ‘appreciate and interpret what they observe, communicate what they think and feel, or make what they imagine and invent.’ At its best, the subject is both intellectually challenging and creatively demanding.

As a subject studied in school, art includes a range of practices, as well as theoretical and philosophical ideas and interests. The building blocks of the subject enable pupils to see, to know and to experience art. Pupils learn how to view, discuss and make art in its multifaceted, complex and contested forms.

The nature of art, craft and design

Art is a rich and varied set of practices central to human civilisation. Art itself is not static, and its purposes, materials and methods are always evolving. Historically, it has served a range of purposes, including representing nature, expressing feelings, embodying formal beauty, and preserving or criticising social norms. Major art forms include painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking. Since the early 20th century, art has broadened to include photography, performance, and new digital media. Art is closely related to design and craft in graphics, typography, textiles and ceramics. It is not easy to draw a clear line between art, craft and design, because the boundaries between them have changed over time; these fields continue to inform and enrich each other. Together, they are the basis of art education in schools.

Art, craft and design are practical in nature. Children are also informed by related academic disciplines, including the history of art, aesthetics and art criticism. The school subject of art draws upon concepts and ideas from all of these traditions.

Our curriculum design

Our curriculum design At Skyswood is appropriately selective to ensure a progressive curriculum that is rich in opportunity and under-pinned by the central skills of drawing. Our curriculum provides appropriate substance across the disciplines of drawing, painting, sculpture, clay and print-making, alongside carefully planned opportunities to experiment with a wider range of techniques, materials and processes.

Art and Design has a high profile throughout Skyswood Primary and Nursery School, from early years’ education right up to the end of Year 6. It is our children’s entitlement to be able to share and express their individual creativity and imagination through experiencing a breadth of opportunities and developing increasing control and mastery of a wide range of skills, techniques and materials. Children will develop the knowledge and confidence needed to independently create their own unique drawings, paintings, designs, sculptures, and crafts. We want the children to have a natural sense of wonder and curiosity when studying a wide variety of artwork. Our growth mind set approach encourages children to ‘have a go’ and reflect critically and positively on their learning. We empower children to discover great artists that will inspire them to explore their own and other’s cultural heritages.  At Skyswood Primary school, we believe that the process takes precedence over the product. We have high expectations of all children as artists and encourage our children to see the enjoyment and satisfaction in the process of producing art. It is through the children’s personalised experience of art at Skyswood that we enable the children to feel safe, secure, and happy to experiment, developing their individual preferences and styles as they progress through the key stages. Our curriculum is designed to inspire our children with a love for art as they progress into their next phase of education and beyond.


We use the statutory early years’ framework and the teaching and the National Curriculum in KS1 and KS2 as our basic framework for planning and have built upon this to ensure ambition, enrichment and challenge as children progress through the key stages.  Our skills-based curriculum makes effective use of cross-curricular links where appropriate. The selected skills and disciplines within drawing and painting build progressively as the children move up through Key Stages 1 and 2 and underpin the children’s learning across the broader art curriculum.

Painting experiences begin with experimenting with colour, mark making, and developing fine motor skills in the early years, right up to the control, application, and comparison of specific techniques (such as watercolour and acrylic) by the end of Key Stage 2. Children learn to sculpt, model and create through a wide range of mediums. These include clay, pastels, crayons, chalks, charcoal, collage, montage, printing, papier-mache, mod-rock and junk materials.  This is supported through the studying of key artists, including contemporary artists, designers and architects.

Art units of study, along with Design Technology, are blocked in a way to enable a concentrated focus on each unit. In our early years the children have daily access to a variety of media and materials which they can explore to produce their own creative work. Provision is carefully planned to suit the interests of the children, whilst developing the necessary skills within the early years’ framework. We place high importance on our EYFS, as we know this provides the fundamental base for future learning. We closely monitor the progress and attainment of all children against the National Curriculum expectations and, at the start of Key stage 2, Log books are formally introduced as children develop a wider capacity to reflect upon artistic processes and begin to develop their personal artistic styles and preferences.

Children have the opportunity to study a wide variety of artists as they progress through the school. Art units provide a rich cross-curricular link to other areas of study and our long-term plans make appropriate links to support projects in history, geography and other curriculum areas. Our growth mind set approach encourages ‘have-a-go’ attitudes and children recognise that it is okay to take risks and to make mistakes as part of their journey through our art curriculum.

The school benefits from having a kiln and the teaching of ceramics has become a key strength within our art curriculum. Children enjoy the opportunity to develop a wide range of ceramic skills, alongside opportunities to work with a wider range of materials and develop a similar passion for sculpture.

The National Curriculum advises that schools must consider appropriate time allocations for each of the foundation subjects. Our recommendation, to ensure sufficient substance, breadth and depth of opportunity, is for 8 to 10 hours of high-quality art education within each term. Our medium-term plans identify the key ‘end-points’ of learning for each unit of study. These form the backbone of our art curriculum. Individual lesson plans support each of the units but are recommended activities rather than ‘compulsory’ activities. They are carefully considered in terms of addressing the key skills within each unit of study but we recognise the individuality and creativity of our teaching staff and welcome initiatives or alternative activities as long as they effectively address the key end points for the given unit.


One of our key curriculum drivers centres around diversity and the celebration of different cultures. Our art curriculum has been specifically designed to ensure relevance and accessibility for all children. Historically, many schools have studied similar artists, often those perceived to be great masters or trail-blazers within various genres of painting; such as Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh or Cezanne. We aim for every child to be able to recognise themselves within some of the artists that they study. Our curriculum is designed to include the study of some inspirational female artists, such as Beatriz Milhazes, Georgia O’Keefe, Zaha Hadid, or the contemporary Aboriginal artists, Stumpy Brown and Emile Kame Kngwarrenge. Black artists, and artists from a wide range of cultures, such as Romero Britto, Lobo and Clifford Possum Jjapaltjarri also feature within our curriculum design, alongside contemporary artists and designers such as Phillipe Starck and Keith Haring. Wherever possible, local artists are invited in to work with the children. Since lockdown these have included the sculptor, Neil Wood, and local potters Mike Hardy and Cathy Osmond. These artists have inspired our children and are role models in demonstrating the accessibility of art as a future career path.

Subject-specific vocabulary

Another of our key curriculum drivers is to ensure the teaching of subject-specific vocabulary. Key artistic vocabulary is identified alongside each curriculum unit. The progressive teaching of subject-specific vocabulary supports the development of key concepts within art and enables our children to express and articulate their knowledge and personal opinions on art to a higher level. From an early age, children develop an understanding of what is meant by the term ‘abstract’, recognising that art is not merely a representation of what they see before them, but a celebration of different expressions, interpretations and views of the world. Key vocabulary is consolidated as children progress through each key stage, and built upon appropriately as children are introduced to a wider range of techniques, materials and processes.

Further Enrichment

Our art curriculum is further enriched through cross-curricular opportunities, special events or competitions, and extra-curricular provision. Artistic skills might be consolidated through artwork linked to religious festivals, design projects (Design & Technology), illustrations to support short stories/poetry/ World Book Day or other key projects. In September 2023 the school held a competition to design the art-work for our Values Display Board (by the front entrance of the school) and in February 2024 our children designed the artwork for our Basketball Board in the Key Stage 2 playground. Two of our children designed the Mayor’s Christmas Card for December 2024, and the school regularly hold art-related competitions for Author of the Term or our annual Summer Fair, where each class designs also designs its own stall based on a selected theme. Art is regularly celebrated through the school website and monthly newsletters. Many children attend a superb weekly Art Club run by Laura Ellis and over 50% of our Year 6 children have attended the school Pottery Club over the past three years. The Pottery Club held a well-attended exhibition in December 2023 and an exhibition is planned for April 2024 to showcase curriculum ceramics alongside the artwork of our Year 6 Pottery Club.


Art, craft and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity. A high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. As pupils progress, they should be able to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. They should also know how art and design both reflect and shape our history, and contribute to the culture, creativity and wealth of our nation.

By the end of each Key Stage, all children will be able to understand and apply a progressive range of skills, knowledge and processes that they have been taught. They will be proficient in the drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft, and design techniques appropriate to their age. Teachers use key end-points to inform their assessment, to identify any gaps in learning and to support each child and enable them to build effectively upon previous learning. Children will recognise art as a broad subject where all children can succeed as artists and develop their own creative styles and preferences. Our art curriculum fully prepares our children for the expectations of secondary school and beyond. At Skyswood Primary School we lay the foundations for our children to develop a life-long love of art.


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