Art Department Curriculum Key Stage 3-5

Head of Department: Mrs Every

Our vision for students’ Art education is to develop independent, creative thinkers and give students the opportunity for self-expression. Creative expression is a crucial part of our human existence, which adds to students’ personal development. Our Art curriculum covers Art, 3D Design, Photography and Creative Media to give students’ the experience of a broad range of styles. We aim to take a broad, cross-curricular approach to develop critical and contextual understanding and develop transferrable skills of researching and analysing. This is also to develop higher levels of empathy and tolerance in students from exposure to opposing perspectives of the world, which helps them to learn about people, places and ideas that exist beyond their bubbles.

We want students to have memorable experiences that enthuse, inspire and motivate students to develop their own imagination and artistic visions, reflecting ideas from their locality, culture and beliefs as well as current affairs. This ensures the curriculum is relevant and engaging to the students we teach, taking into account the ethos, intake and locality of our school, whilst also helping to build confidence in the individual to express their personal identity.

Art is a vital tool to support mental health and wellbeing, which has become embedded in our teaching and we encourage students to take forward these soft skills from their Art education into the future to become risk-takers and creative problem solvers.


Our Art Curriculum integrates aspects of Fine Art, 3D Design and Photography at Key Stage 3 before specialising at Key Stage 4 and 5. Key concepts such as formal elements, composition, observational drawing, colour theory, and narrative are covered in depth through a year-long focus, which is revisited at each key stage.

From a young age, children explore Art through their senses; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic, to create something tangible, which expresses their thoughts and feelings. As such, we begin with a project that explores the formal elements as the basic building blocks of a piece of Artwork. This is the key focus of Year 7 and builds up to putting these together in a composition using personal objects to engage the students. Drawing is at the heart of their Art education, revisiting this every year in every project, building on previously learned skills and expanding these by experimenting with different materials and more challenging subject matter. This progresses in the following way:

  • Abstract images
  • Still Life
  • Portraiture
  • Surrealism
  • Independent choice

Much of the subject matter that we investigate is from the world around us. This encourages students to look at the world from a new perspective, examining, analysing and evaluating their surroundings to developing transferrable critical thinking skills.

Each SOW ensures that students experience a key Art movement, ranging from ancient and traditional artwork to modern art styles. Initially in Year 7 and 8, this is taught in chronological order for students to develop recognition of how these styles developed. Across Key Stage 3, students will have investigated a broad range of Art throughout history, being inclusive of female and contemporary artists in every year group.

By the time students reach GCSE and A Level, they are able to refer back to styles that interested them and progress to more conceptual themes.

Learning is extended beyond the classroom through gallery visits and home learning assignments. These focus on developing students’ researching, analysing and independent learning skills.

Each KS3 project embeds the MIKE assessment model, Making, Ideas, Knowledge, and Evaluation. KS4 and KS5 Assessment criteria of Developing Ideas and responding to artists (AO1), Experimenting with Media (AO2), Recording ideas and observations (AO3), Presenting a final piece (AO4), all link back to the MIKE model. Annotations throughout students’ sketchbooks are necessary to respond to ideas, knowledge, evaluation and AO3, along with developing literacy skills. These are the skills that students are to be assessed against. By introducing a wide variety of materials early in their art education, students are able to take risks with their choice of materials later on in the key stage, enabling them to achieve higher grades. As students’ progress through the year groups, they will have opportunities to revisit some of the same skills to develop them further, as well as learn new skills. By Year 9, there will be a greater level of independence needed from students to create their own designs, based on a subject matter of their choice. This enables a greater level of personal expression. 

Drawing and Painting:
  • Year 7 start with learning basic skills, such as being able to show tone, creating different marks, using equipment correctly, and producing a colour wheel. They are taught how to draw one point perspective to show depth in their work. Students are required to learn how to mix colours by only being provided with primary colours of powder paint until the end of Year 7.
  • In Year 8, students develop their painting skills through the use of watercolour, where they can show tones through the control of the amount of water in their paint. Along with exploring new techniques such as two-point perspective, oil pastels and pen and bleed.
  • In Year 9 students will recap on the application of the formal elements, tone, shape, and texture. There is a drawing focus at the start of the first project that focuses on drawing realistically. Colour theory is revisited and applied to their outcomes of their second project.
  • By Key Stage 4 and 5, all projects need drawing and painting at their centre.
  • Year 7’s first use of printing techniques is relief printing to correspond with the working processes of the Pop Artists that they explore.
  • Year 9 has a Street Art project dedicated to printing. This project covers mono-printing, stencil printing, lino printing and relief printing.
  • In Year 10, students can revisit printing methods by building on their prior knowledge from KS3. Graphite transfer is explored as a way to develop drawing skills.
  • In Year 11, dry-point etching is introduced as variation on drawing and printing skills.
  • Year 12 includes a printmaking week where students can explore any one of the processes with a more individual focus. This can be developed further through independent study in Year 13.
  • In Year 7 students initially explore the formal elements in 2D and then transform these into 3D with simple card construction techniques.
  • In Year 8 students continue to develop their card construction skills. They will build a structure inspired by religious, cultural buildings where the church is the centre of the community.
  • By Year 9, students are developing their understanding of form with clay.
  • In Year 10 gradually introduce new materials into the sculpture to recap the formal elements. As the course develops, techniques become more sophisticated (e.g. clay work is initially slab building, but progresses to coil building by Year 11).
  • By the time students reach A Level, they have experienced a wide range of sculptural materials, which enables them to approach broader creative thinking challenges of interpreting 2D artwork in a Three-Dimensional form. This culminates in students developing their own installation to convey the ideas of their personal investigation in an interactive way, encouraging students’ ambition and ability to take risks.
  • The concepts of photography at Key Stage 3 are largely introduced through independent learning tasks to encourage observation of the world around them.
  • In Year 8, students set up their own photoshoot in response to the theme of portraits.
  • In Year 9, image manipulation skills are developed, which are used to show how Photography can inform Art.
  • At Key Stage 4, students develop more understanding of the different type of shots, including wide shot, mid-shot, closeup photography. Students are encouraged to have as many primary reference images as possible to facilitate a personal response to the themes. This ethos is continued into A Level Fine Art.     
  • In the sixth form, students have the opportunity to specialise in Photography, allowing students to go into more depth with the technical aspects of the camera. The A Level course follows a 3-project, followed by the exam unit. We start by studying the History of Photography and exploring traditional methods, such as pinhole cameras and photograms, before going into more depth with digital photographic processes to show how photography processes developed over time. The technical skills of the camera are introduced gradually to build up students’ understanding of the Exposure Triangle. We give them the opportunity to be in complete control of every aspect of a photo through the project of “Miniature World”, where students can control the lighting, camera positioning, setting and pose of their “models”. For the second project we explore “Force and Movement”, giving students the opportunity to be more experimental and develop a further understanding of shutter speed. The last coursework project is “Identity”, as this gives them a focus for their personal investigation unit, whilst enabling us to still teach some key photography skills specific to certain genres, such as portraiture, fashion, and still life. The structure of this course builds up to more complex ideas and greater freedom to be creative.

In addition to these subject specific skills, cross-curricular links are embedded with students developing literacy (through annotations), numeracy (through measurements), ICT, Geographical understanding, Historical knowledge in our schemes of work, as well as touching on aspects of Religion, PSHE and SMSC.


As students are encouraged to use their personal experiences to inform their responses to an Art style, students have creative ownership over their outcomes, which progresses throughout each key stage. By the end of Key Stage 3, students have an understanding of the core principles of Art, which they will be able to apply in more personalised projects at KS4 and 5. This has enabled our exam results to remain strong, regularly exceeding the national average pass-rate.

The engagement of students in the department can be observed in lessons. Students enjoy the opportunity to express themselves, which is evidenced in the variety of personalised outcomes.

Several of our students go on to study the subject further at university and/or complete foundation courses. Regardless of whether students pursue Art beyond core education, students will have developed valuable life-long skills, becoming independent through the levels of choice they have been given in their work, resilient through their experimentation with materials, and will be able to take risks and find creative solutions to problems. We will have provided them with tools to relieve stress and keep calm. Students will leave us having become self-confident, disciplined, socially aware individuals with a strong sense of identity and the ability to tolerate and respect others’ views and opinions.


During the first term, students will be developing an understanding of the formal elements in Art. They will be looking at Abstract works and developing their own responses, focusing on Op Art. They will begin to learn the basics of colour theory and how to control a paintbrush and pencil, working on an Op Art cube outcome. As the term progresses, we will be giving students greater freedom with their outcomes, leading to a more unique three-dimensional piece. Students’ classwork will be accompanied by 2 homework projects to extend their learning, develop independence and give them greater freedom with their Art work. 

In the second project Year 7 will develop observational drawing skills and basic colour mixing knowledge. They will investigate Pop Art and, towards the end of half term, they will develop their independence for their termly research homework. They will learn about tone and composition and will produce a variety of still life images. Students will also visit the Beecroft Gallery.

Year 8 will begin to explore the theme of identity by learning how to record a portrait. We will be discussing the principles of Photo-realism and Expressionism and teaching students various painting, printing and drawing techniques to respond to these Art styles through choice of facial expressions and colour. As students develop their work, we will begin to look more into different cultural identities and experiment with how to show this in our portraits. Students’ classwork will be accompanied by 2 homework projects to extend their learning, develop independence and give them greater freedom with their Art work. The first of these will be centred around a trip to the National Portrait Gallery. 

Year 8 will be investigating cultures in Art and the significance and religious meaning of light in Art. Students will go to St Helen’s church to draw the stained-glass windows and then explore printing methods to create patterns. Students will develop three-dimensional skills using wire to make a framework for a lantern which will be decorated with the patterns they printed. Students will have a choice as to whether that would like to study Oriental lanterns, Diwali lanterns or Medieval European lanterns. This will teach students about form, pattern and wire construction skills.

Year 9 will be investigating Surrealism and linking it with our local environment by designing imaginative sea creatures. This will include a research project at the start of the term to develop their independence in exploring different aspects of Surrealism. This will help to lead to individual and unique designs inspired by artists’ work. They will explore form and texture in both 2D and 3D media. 

Students’ classwork will be accompanied by 2 homework projects to extend their learning, develop independence and give them greater freedom with their Art work.  

On completion of this project, students will be investigating Street Art and using stencil printing skills. 

Year 10 will be drawing from nature. They will be developing their drawing and painting skills when working from observation. They will learn how to present a creative and interesting sketchbook. Formal elements that will remain a focus throughout the project include; line, tone, pattern, texture and form. Students will need to be independent with their choice of artists. Homework will be set fortnightly in order to cover all of the assessment objectives for their coursework. 

Students will be developing their independence to respond to the theme in unique and creative ways. Students will explore printing methods and learn more about composition and pattern to guide them towards producing their own final piece.

Year 11 will be completing their coursework this term. Students are currently working on the theme of I, Me, Mine. The aim of this project is to get students to work in a way that expresses themselves. Students will be learning more about portraiture, as well as other ways to represent their identity. Students will investigate artists that study the theme of Identity and experiment with a wide range of materials to explore their methods of working. Homework will be set fortnightly in order to cover all of the assessment objectives for their coursework.