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Art & Design

Art & Design Curriculum Rationale

At Hillcrest we are artists! We want our children to love art and design. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be illustrators, graphic designers, curators or printmakers! We want them to embody our core values. We believe that Hillcrest is a place: “Where all children learn and discover together to create a better world”.


The art and design curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop their artistic capital. We want our children to remember their art and design lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the opportunities they are presented with! 


We have been an integral partner in the annual ‘Totterdown Arts Trail’. Every year our two artists plan and deliver lessons which bring art ‘alive’ for the children and culminate in an inspiring exhibition enjoyed by parents and the local community. We also take part in The Big Draw every year.


Bringing art and design alive is important at Hillcrest Primary School. 


Curriculum Intent

The art and design curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas. 


We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the art and design National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, the school was one of the first in Bristol to be selected for a special Masterpieces in Schools’ event supported by the Royal West of England Academy. All of our children from Reception to Year 6 spent a memorable day in contact with three pieces of sculpture from the museums’ collection. They took inspiration from these to make their very own sculptures. We are committed to putting art and design on the map here at Hillcrest Primary.


We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the art and design curriculum. For example, we organised an extra special visit for some of our Year 5 pupils to the Arnolfini in Bristol. The children explored the displays of the national collection of modern and contemporary art, utilised the learning resources and received an expert gallery talk. The children had the opportunity to experience, first hand, the work of artist Grayson Perry, one of the world's most charismatic artists and astute commentators on contemporary society.


The children saw first-hand how Perry tackles one of his primary concerns: how contemporary art can best address a diverse cross section of society. They studied drawings from his own childhood and life as a transvestite, as well as wider social issues examining masculinity, class, politics, sex, religion, popularity and art, as well as contemporary issues such as Brexit and 'Divided Britain'.


We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example some of our children we lucky enough to watch ‘The Three Kings’ performance by the Travelling Light Theatre Company. This wonderful group of actors are part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio and Bristol City Council’s Cultural Investment Programme. They explored the themes of gender stereotypes and individual life stories through drawing and collage. Our children produce some fantastic pieces of work as a result!


We firmly believe that it is not just about what happens in the classroom, it is about the added value we offer to really inspire our children.


Curriculum Implementation

The art and design curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment milestones for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. We are extremely lucky to have two outstanding Art specialists who teach art and design across the school each week. Our pupils take inspiration from artists, using authentic sources, throughout history to help generate ideas for their work. They explore and practice the practical skills and techniques involved in the topic and use their sketch books to record their observations and to review and revisit ideas before producing a final piece. The way each discipline is taught in our school has also been adapted so that the disciplines are revisited, at a progressively deeper level.


Art and design subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, have been developed and shared with all stakeholders. These characteristics underpin all work in art and design and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils.


With class teachers our art teachers develop year group specific long-term curriculum maps which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely but staff make meaningful links across subjects. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s learning. For example, in Year 1 one of the children’s enquiries is ‘How does my city change?’ They explore Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s cornucopic portraits as inspiration for their seasonal work using collage and also tackle; ‘Earth and Space – is the moon made of cheese?’ in science, Neil Armstrong in history and use the text ‘Katie and the starry night’ by James Mayhew in English. Our children are taught the right, connected knowledge.


Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.


Classes have a weekly art and design session with our specialist art teacher. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to art and design and that the subject matter can be revisited frequently. We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make. 


Curriculum Impact

We use both formative and summative assessment information in order to inform our short-term planning. Our low stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for the pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what the pupils have misunderstood or are struggling to remember. These questions can easily be recycled, utilising the spacing effect to ensure content is retained for the long term instead of being forgotten soon after the lesson. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able. The assessment milestones for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in art and design are progressive and build year on year. 


Our staff use art and design formative assessment grids to systematically assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These formative assessment grids then inform summative assessment judgements for each enquiry.


Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in art and design. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in art and design includes: pupil book, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.


All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly.

 At Hillcrest Primary School, we are ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS!