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Art staff


“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
― Aristotle

Curriculum intent

Our intention is to engage, inspire, challenge and equip all learners with the skills to express their creative ideas artistically. The understanding and knowledge of diverse artistic traditions gained should empower all students to develop cultural capital so they can engage with, enjoy and participate in Art & Culture throughout their lives. We strive to facilitate personal expression through visual communication and in doing so, promote healthy minds for life. Encouraging students to enjoy making Art and gain a sense of accomplishment and pride in their achievements is central to our approach. 

The Key Stage 3 curriculum prepares all students to study GCSE Fine Art as a Key Stage 4 option. The GCSE course aims to develop students who due to their independence, secure skill base and ability to think creatively remain curious, confident learners beyond the classroom and post-16.

What does progress through Key Stage 3 look like for a student in Art?

Students have had a varying experience of Art depending on their Key Stage 2 and beyond the classroom experiences. Throughout KS3 students are taught by a subject specialist one hour every week. We have planned a curriculum which facilitates a smooth KS2 to KS3 transition, is accessible to all students and supports progression regardless of starting point.

Term 1 & 2 of the Year 7 course is designed as a foundation course in skills & understanding which consolidates KS2 learning and bridges gaps where appropriate. Subsequent KS3 projects build on this foundation, offering a broad, balanced diet of inspiring themes, artist links, technique & media use. Projects support students to gradually gain increased autonomy with greater choice of media & technique use when creating personal responses (outcomes).

Planning and quality assurance ensures a consistent experience for all students. Opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate ‘Gold Learner’ attributes in all lessons are planned for and made explicit.

What do students learn in Year 7?

Term 1 (Unit 1)  – Human Faces

Portraiture provides a theme which interests and inspires Year 7 students. Appearance for many is a key aspect of self- and often cultural identity. Realistic observational studies using a range of media, techniques & styles will further develop the essential 2D recording skills required throughout KS3. Exploring realistic portraiture themed Art produced by a diverse range of artists provides opportunities to learn the foundation formal language / key words to describe and analyse art work by others. Practical tasks will focus on drawing & printmaking (collographs).

Term 2 (Unit 2a) – World Culture Masks a) Disguise, Art for Purpose & Identities

The Expressive Art focus provides a contrast to the Realism of Unit 1. Studies focus on African masks; what masks are made from, how they are made, when, how and why masks are worn and what this tells us about a specific group of people past and present. The main outcome of Unit 2a is a personal response (a 3D clay mask) while this is also an opportunity for students to undertake research and further develop Unit 1 observational drawing skills at the design stage. 

Term 2 (Unit 2b) – Kente Cloth & Colour Theory b) Art as Expression

During this Unit students re-visit and extend KS2 Colour Theory knowledge and skills. Kente Cloth colour schemes will be described and analysed with students gaining an understanding of culture-specific symbolic meanings. An introduction to acrylic paint application techniques and expressive artwork case studies will equip students to paint their clay mask and create a personal response (their own expressive self-portrait).

Term 3 (Unit 3) – Art & Issues – Endangered Animals 

This project introduces students to the power of visual Art to communicate important global issues, challenge, educate and promote change. Case studies will explore the messages of Andy Warhol’s Endangered Animal print series of 1983 & Contemporary artists who use social media as a communication tool. Students will apply and further develop existing research, observational recording, colour theory knowledge & printmaking skills to create a mixed media personal response. Basic digital image manipulation skills will be employed (SketchUp) during the design development stage.

What do students learn in Year 8?

Term 1 & 2a)  (Unit 1) – Cross-cultural Influences (Celtic Art)

Students learn about the symbolic meanings, cross-cultural origins and evolution of Celtic Art from the 8th century to its influence on contemporary Artists & designers. The knowledge gained will help students to study and understand other Artistic styles. Different methods of drawing Celtic motifs will stretch existing observational line drawing and shading skills. Students will apply and extend their knowledge of Colour Theory while developing modelling skills using ink & watercolour. A focus on where the Book of Kells was made, by whom and when, how it was used, what materials were used & where the materials were sourced will inform practical tasks. Transferable GCSE style presentation skills will teach students how to sequence & evidence their ‘creative journey’. The second stage of the project involves a personal response when students design and ink a Celtic illuminated letter.

Term 2b) (Unit 2) – Art & Issues – National Identity

‘Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads’ 2010 is a group of animal sculptures by contemporary conceptual artist Ai Wei Wei. Building on the Art & Issues (Year 7 – Unit 3) students will consider meaning for different audiences and explore why the sculptures relate to Contemporary Politics / National Identity. Case studies of so-called ‘Stolen Art’ relating to past Empires & conflict will extend student awareness and prepare students to participate in Cultural issues. Describing and analysing the artwork of others, identifying links and explaining historical contexts will extend student understanding of formal language / key words. The practical outcome – a mixed media animal head artist copy – involves students recording tones in detail to represent 3-dimensional forms using a wide range of media and artist inspired mark making techniques to depict textures.

Term 3 (Unit 3) -Natural Forms ‘Insect Art’ – Art for different uses – Science

This is a mixed media craft based project which aims to combine drawing, painting & collage related skills. To gain an understanding of chronology and the varied use of Art, students will study Fine Art & Scientific Illustrations (14th century to Contemporary), Contemporary ‘Nature Art’ & collaged pre-school picture book illustrations1960’s to date. This will include looking at Art related career paths in Art & Science. Case studies will raise awareness of links between Art and Ethical & Environmental issues. Students will choose an insect from the current Endangered UK Red List to develop a mixed media GCSE style personal response supported by sketchbook development work.

What do students learn in Year 9?

In both Unit 1 & Unit 2 all students have the opportunity to demonstrate the skills, knowledge & understanding gained throughout KS3 to produce a personal response. This involves students researching & responding to the work of others, developing a range of ideas in response, recording ideas using selected media & techniques to further develop / refine a personal outcome(s).This prepares students who opt to study Fine Art as a Key Stage 4 GCSE Option.

Term 1 & 2a) (Unit 1) – The Creative Journey (Clay Monster Pot)

In response to inspirational Art & natural forms ( including the work of contemporary ceramicist James De Rosso, ceramic artefacts 1500 to date, sea-life & insects) students record personal research, initial ideas & design development work in a GCSE style sketchbook. Case studies extend skills in terms of describing & analysing the artwork of others, identifying links between artwork and explaining function & historical contexts. The design brief challenges students to compose a 3D pot design to fulfil criteria. The making stage further develops prior knowledge & skills (Unit 2a) Year 7 – World Culture Masks, in terms of clay slab construction, modelling and surface decoration skills. Students will apply their Colour Theory knowledge to design a colour scheme then refine existing painting techniques (acrylic paint). Personal response; a clay monster pot & sketchbook work.

Term 2b) & Term 3 (Unit 2) – Art & Issues / Contemporary Artistic Messages

‘Artistic Messages’ provides Year 9 students with an opportunity to research and develop a personal response with a GCSE style sketchbook presentation supporting a stencil-based outcome. Students select from a range of issues including; Body Image, Gender Equality, LBGTQ+, Pride, Feminism, Womens Rights, #Metoo, Environmentalism, Politics, Anti-Racism, Islamophobia, Unity, Displacement / Refugee, Inclusivity, Black Lives Matter, Poverty, Equality, Anti-War / Peace, Animal Rights. The project builds on knowledge gained in previous ‘Art & Issues’ topics (Year 7 Unit 3 & Year 8 Units 2 & 3) re: the power of Visual Art to communicate important issues, challenge, educate and promote change. While offering students opportunity to create a personal visual ‘Message’ the project is also designed to showcase & extend practical skills (including the use of IT (SketchUp) to simplify an image for use as a stencil, craft knife use, stippled acrylic paint application to create monochromatic or coloured textural effects.

What do students learn in Year 10?

The KS3 course provides students with a foundation of skills, knowledge and understanding to confidently study GCSE Art & Design (AQA Fine Art). It is a two year course and involves students working in two or more of the following areas; drawing & painting, mixed media, sculpture, printmaking & photography. In Year 10 students are able to expand their KS3 understanding of key themes and the diversity of Art across traditions and cultures including modern Britain. Unit 1 (60%) requires students to submit a coursework portfolio of one extended project which fulfils 4 Assessment Objectives and a selection of other work. Unit 2* (40%) is the External Test which takes place in the Spring Term of Year 11. At Millthorpe students create two coursework projects. A Year 9 Summer Holiday Transition Task prepares students for a structured Y10 Autumn & Spring Term project centred on a broad theme (2022 ‘Food & Drink’). Personal photographic studies inspire observational studies which extend existing skills and encourage the creative exploration of familiar and unfamiliar media & techniques. Artist case studies are interleaved with practical tasks, supporting students to create personal responses. The first project supports students to gradually gain increased autonomy with greater choice of media & technique use, opportunities to develop personal ideas and final outcomes. Exposure to a diverse range of Art equips students to have the confidence to engage with and make sense of the Art they will encounter post-16. To prepare for Unit 2* Y10 students prepare a personal response to an exam style starting point during the Summer Term. The broader starting point  facilitates the development of a more personal response. Projects vary and are tailored to suit the interests and needs of GCSE groups. Example starting points include; ‘Details’, ‘Personal Space’, ‘Identity’, ‘Urban / Rural’ & ‘Messages’. The outcome of the Mock Year 10 External Test in June forms the basis of the second coursework project which is further developed during the Autumn Term of Year 11.

What do students learn in Year 11?

The second coursework project which is further developed during the Autumn Term of Year 11. Due to the requirement for a personal response, students are supported on a one-to-one basis throughout the second coursework project. The exam component (Unit 2* External Test) takes place during the Spring Term of Year 11. Students are given eight weeks to plan, undertake research and prepare a final piece. A high degree of independence is required with teacher support provided throughout the preparation period. Following the preparation period, students produce their final personal response(s) in timed exam conditions (total of 10 hours). The time management and independent study skills are essential preparation for post-16 courses. The GCSE course provides a secure foundation for A Level Fine Art & a wide range of specialist Post-16 courses.

GCSE final assessment

At the end of the course candidates receive two final marks, one for each component of the examination:
Controlled assessment60%
Externally set task40%

Year 11 Virtual Art Gallery

Take a look at artwork by some of our Year 11 students who took their GCSEs in 2023 – just click the button below.

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