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“Art is not what you see but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas


At Essa, we want to inspire, engage and challenge children by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to become passionate and confident artists. Our curriculum is ambitious and engaging and allows children to develop a deep understanding of art and design as they progress through the school. We ensure that the children learn skills and processes (disciplinary knowledge) and also learn key facts about artists and craftspeople and techniques (substantive knowledge). Our children learn to appreciate and evaluate the work of a range of artists from different backgrounds, faiths, cultures and ethnicities, which allows them to see how art can be a medium for self-expression.  This also allows them to see how art can reflect the local context in which they live but also provide them with a window into a more diverse world. This diversity can be seen through studying more traditional artists such as Van Gogh and L.S. Lowry, alongside more contemporary artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Faith Ringgold.

The curriculum allows our children to develop their technical skills, using a wide variety of techniques and these are progressive from EYFS to Year 6.  To ensure that this progression is embedded, we use 'Big Ideas' as 'golden threads'.


The 'Big Ideas' for Art are:

  • Line (runs through all units)

  • Form

  • Colour

  • Pattern

  • Shape

  • Space

  • Texture

These golden threads run through our curriculum planning from Reception to Year 6 and allow children to explore common themes across different units of work. Careful consideration is given to building a schema of art knowledge and following a well-sequenced curriculum to allow children to make links over time and between themes.


For example, in EYFS, the children begin to use colour to express their ideas about themselves when creating self portraits. This is built upon during Year 1 and Year 2, where children experiment with using primary and secondary colours. This is further enhanced throughout Key Stage 2 where children use colour palettes to express emotions and experiment with colour in digital art.


The introduction of key vocabulary is built into each lesson and then included in display materials and additional resources to ensure that children are allowed opportunities to repeat and revise this knowledge.


Our art curriculum is not about reproducing the work of artists and craftspeople, but is about providing children with the opportunity to develop their understanding of artists, art movements, techniques and methods. It allows them to develop their own critical thinking, creativity and imagination when exploring and producing art.


Our Art curriculum is designed as a keep up rather than a catch up model and through regular retrieval practice and exit tickets, the children are able to build on prior knowledge, and teachers are able to assess which concepts to focus on again. We recognise that sometimes the curriculum may need to be adapted to meet the needs of particular learners. This is achieved by:


  • Additionality in adult to support fine and gross motor skills and differentiated approach to the use of mark making tools 

  • Use of support for recording such as word banks, sentence stems and adult scribes for the evaluation of their own work and artists studied 

  • Increased modelling of skills and techniques such as shading, colour mixing and sculpting 


Art Curriculum Implementation

The curriculum is built on the foundation of three 'Es':

Entitlement or core curriculum offer

The development of art skills begins in EYFS through physical development and expressive arts and design. The children have the opportunity to begin to build their knowledge and skills through daily continuous provision, completing weekly challenges and other enhanced provision. In KS1 and KS2, art is delivered in units of work across the year and children are given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills using a range of different media such as fine art, mixed media, sculpture, pastel, paint and charcoal. All children have an art sketchbook to celebrate their artistic journey and development as they move through the school. This allows them to record their creative learning and show their understanding of how artists and craftspeople have shaped history and influenced our world. To develop our children's cultural capital, all children experience an art visit or visitor at least once in each phase of their learning.







Children who demonstrate a love of art have the opportunity to develop this in a number of ways:

  • Art clubs in KS1 and KS2 that allow children to explore their passions

  • Termly art competitions

  • Educational visits

  • Whole school art theme week

  • Visits to the school art gallery 



Children who excel in art have the opportunity to pursue their talents in a number of ways:

  • Projects with other local schools

  • Specific clubs focusing on the wider arts

  • Arts department forms part of the pupil leadership team

  • The opportunity to have their work featured in the school art gallery



All of our school community (staff, senior leaders, governors and children are involved in measuring the impact of our Art curriculum in different ways. This is planned for through the School Development Plan, and using our annual monitoring cycle and termly development plan to map out monitoring and review over the year.


Impact is measured by:

-       Collecting data from formative assessments (whole-class quizzes, assessment cups, exit tickets)

-       Pupil voice to determine what children have remembered over time 

-       Staff voice to determine effectiveness of provided planning and the impact of professional development

-       Parent voice in our annual survey

-       Reviewing learning in sketch books

-       Reviewing progress made against steps to success each lesson and across a sequence of lessons

-       Governor visits to evaluate different areas of Art

An impact statement is written each term by subject leaders to assess effectiveness of current provision, progress against objectives on action plans and inform and identify next steps.

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