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We see art as a vehicle for creativity and individual expression, and it provides opportunities for building cultural capital. It is an important form of cultural expression and, therefore, has significance and meaning for all our children. Our teaching provides an understanding of techniques and media in drawing, painting, printing and using 3D media. We use digital media as a tool to facilitate high quality end points in children’s work when it is an appropriate tool to do so.

When teaching art, teachers:

  • a WAGOLL of their own to share with children which exemplifies the key techniques and learning.
  • Identify an appropriate artist whose work exemplifies aspects of the learning.
  • Give children time to explore and practise.
  • Prioritise the use of sketchbooks from Year 2 onwards as a record of the iterative artist processes.
  • Equip children with the powerful knowledge of relevant artists, their techniques and styles.
  • Equip children with the vocabulary and tools to critique artwork.  Capitalise on the context and purpose of learning, capitalising on opportunities across the curriculum to ensure learning is authentic and purposeful.

Art at Totley Primary School is taught to inspire and challenge all children. We teach children the knowledge and skills they need to create their own pieces of art, drawing on inspiration from the artists we have chosen to exemplify the techniques we teach. 

We teach children how to look critically at artwork to form their own opinions and teach them how to evaluate, compare and contrast their own work to that of the artists we learn about. We teach children the vocabulary they need to do so as experts.

Each year, children learn the next skill in drawing and mark making, painting, printing and sculpture. We have planned our curriculum logically, so prior learning is always helpful in the next step of children's journey as artists. 

Children use a sketchbook to record their iterative journey and produce a final piece to capture and apply their skills and knowledge they have learnt. 


Below is the structure of a typical art lesson to give you an impression of the experiences of a child as they master our art curriculum. 



Possible strategies in the classroom

Start each art lesson by looking at the work of great artists and designers so children are able and feel confident to critique works of art

  • TED (Tell me, Explain, Describe)
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • What’s the headline?
  • Select work for its artistic importance, cultural capital, relevance to the context of learning, technique demonstrated, use of colour, tone, line, light and dark etc.
  • What can we learn from __’s work?

Give children the opportunity to work with non-standard media and techniques to make marks and encourage them out of their comfort zone. The process of being creative, not the end point, is the most important part of this learning.

  • A time-limited opportunity to explore and be creative in a non-standard way.
  • Evaluate what we can see in our work with a specific focus- line, tone, colour, shape, pattern, shadow…

Model precise techniques and teach children the knowledge of how artists have created a carefully chosen WAGOLL.

  • Refer to the content and progression document.
  • Model under the visualiser.
  • My turn, our turn, your turn.
  • Knowledge-rich.

Give children the opportunity to explore these techniques.

  • Refer to the WAGOLL for the final piece- can we create the same colour brown as ___?
  • How can we create similar brushstrokes to ___?
  • The techniques explored should the ones modelled and the ones likely to be applied to the final piece.

Use sketchbooks in key Stage Two to record, review and revisit ideas.

  • With the exception of instances where outdoor, larger scale or 3D media are appropriate, sketchbooks are the central place to record children’s exploration and artwork.

Always ensure children have the opportunity to create their own ‘final piece’ to apply what they have learnt with the freedom to be creative.

  • Artists create a final piece after a long period of exploration, practise and improvement.
  • Final pieces are likely to include the techniques children have explored earlier in the learning journey.
  • There should be a balance of applying learning and creativity for its inherent value.

Teach children to reflect and evaluate on their work by comparing and contrasting it to the artists and works they learn about using the oracy framework to evaluate, compare and contrast their work.

  • Like _____, I have/haven’t used _____.
  • Unlike ____, I have/haven’t used.
  • Always refer to the artists children have learn in earlier year groups as well as a retrieval opportunity.