Our art curriculum is a knowledge rich curriculum. Knowledge not only of artists, designers, architects and their work, but of the artistic concepts that relate to their work shown in different types and styles of art, how these relate to each other in a historical context and how this affects the children’s own use of materials and development of skills. In EYFS, children learn to experiment with colour, texture and design and explain their own processes. The curriculum is designed to build on this and to enable children to learn by making connections between the work of artists, architects and designers and their own work, which they evaluate and relate back to the works they have studied.
Units of work in the curriculum focus on the different concepts in art and different types of art. In this context concepts in art means the different elements of art (line, shape, colour, tone, form, space, visual texture and tone), how an artist combines these elements and produces art in different styles, for example realistic or abstract art. Different types of art means the different media used to make art (e.g. sculpture, architecture or painting), different subject matter (e.g. portraits, landscapes or history painting) and different artistic movements, historical periods or geographical cultures (e.g. impressionism, Anglo-Saxon art and Chinese painting).
The overall curriculum provides gradual progression in terms of skills (split into painting, drawing, 3D form, collage, textiles, printmaking and mixed media), introducing the children to as diverse a range of materials as possible. It also provides for progression in terms of knowledge of different concepts and types of art (for example Style in Art and Narrative Painting are studied in year 1, and then revisited in year 3 in History Painting and in year 5 in Style in Art). The structure of the planning also provides for progression in terms of process in art, both in terms of critical analysis of others’ art and the necessary observation, exploration and evaluation needed for the children to create their own art.
This course of study seeks to show how art shapes our history and contributes to our national culture. It looks at key movements and historical periods in the history of Western art, studying art from ancient Greece and Rome, Anglo Saxon England, the middle ages, the Italian renaissance, Victorian art and architecture, French impressionism and modernism of the 20th century. Where a unit looks at a period in history which is also addressed in the history curriculum, the art unit is taught after the history unit. This allows the children to approach their study of art with a degree of confidence and ‘expertise’ and to consolidate their knowledge by creating connections between the different disciplines.
Specific units and artists have been added to the curriculum to introduce more balance and cultural diversity. Year 5 study art from the Islamic world, western Africa and China and these units address the issue of accepted art history narratives, colonization and empire and the influence of non-Western art on art of the Western world. Women artists have also been included, and in key stage 2 there is provision for discussing why women are under-represented in traditional Western art history narratives. Study of modernism and art from the 20th century in year 6 provides an opportunity to study art by women and artists from ethnic groups.