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Art and Design

“All art should inspire and evoke emotion. Art should be something you can actually feel.”

Chris de Rubeis

“Art is not a born talent – it is taught, it is nurtured, it is refined”

Jennifer Gibbs, HMI Ofsted Subject Lead for Art and Design


What is Art?

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. (Oxford Dictionary)


Why do we study Art and Design?

Engaging with art is essential to the human experience. Almost as soon as motor skills are developed, children communicate through artistic expression. The arts challenge us with different points of view, compel us to empathise and give us to the opportunity to reflect on the human condition

Art education encourages pupils to express themselves creatively and can help pupils to develop self-confidence and their sense of personal identity. By studying artistic traditions and history, pupils may gain an appreciation of their own cultural heritage and that of other traditions across the world.

Learning about artistic styles and movements provides opportunities for pupils to develop personal characteristics including – critical thinking, resilience, empathy, appreciation. Wide-ranging technical skills are developed during the study and practice of each theme or media.

Art education ensures equality of access and offers cultural capital to all pupils, reducing barriers that may result from disadvantage, such as financial challenge. 


The National curriculum states the purpose of the study of art as:

Art, craft and design embody some of the highest forms of human creativity. A high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. As pupils progress, they should be able to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. They should also know how art and design both reflect and shape our history, and contribute to the culture, creativity and wealth of our nation.


Through their study of the Opossum Art and Design curriculum, we intend that pupils will:

1. Develop technical knowledge and skills that enable pupils to create artworks in wide-ranging styles

Through the provision of an art and design programme that covers both breadth of artistic styles and in depth study of the skills and processes, pupils are able to access the knowledge and skills needed to create wide-ranging artworks.

2. Explore their creativity and communicate their ideas through artwork

Creativity requires original thought – generated from a sound understanding of a concept or process. Exposure to and experience of the arts allows pupils to create, design and compose new ideas. Art helps pupils to communicate visually, sharing their views about how they see and experience the world.

3. Develop personal qualities of decision-making, self-discipline, problem solving, reflection, critical evaluation,

Throughout the creative process, pupils will regularly make decisions, experiment, review and appraise their work as it progresses. At times, they will encounter challenges in the work, which will develop their problem solving skills. Artistic processes require self-discipline and perseverance, as artists frequently return to their work to develop and improve it. Discussing artworks created by others helps pupils to view the world through a different lens; they learn to express their own views and appreciate other perspectives.

4. Gain knowledge beyond their experience

Pupils will become familiar with a range of artists, artistic styles, approaches and techniques during their progression through the curriculum – many of these are likely to be beyond pupils’ immediate experience. Pupils will acquire cultural capital by learning about significant artists across time and place and will be able to talk about and express opinions on these works.

5. Understand identity

Identity – the qualities, beliefs, personality and self-perception of an individual, culture or community is often expressed through the creation of artworks. Art education can help pupils to explore and understand their own identity and connect them with their own culture or community. The study of art also develops understanding of cultures and communities beyond their own. We intend that pupils will grow in confidence in expressing their own identity and recognising how culture informs, and is informed by, artistic endeavours.

6. Acquire artistic vocabulary

We intend that pupils will develop increasingly wide artistic vocabulary across their primary school experience; this will enable them to speak a ‘disciplinary language’ in common with other artists. Knowledge of artistic forms and significant artists will equip them with cultural capital to participate in wider society.

7. Become inspired

Through the provision of an Art and Design curriculum in which pupils study wide-ranging content, we intend that pupils will experience a sense of excitement from learning about art, artists and self-expression. Showcasing pupils’ learning through exhibition emphasises the importance of their efforts and provides ‘real life’ purpose for their endeavours.  We intend that this will inspire pupils to want to continue their learning in Art as they move to the next stage of their education.


Opossum Values

Through their study of visual art and design, Opossum values are realised.

Being respectful - Discussing artworks with others helps pupils to recognise that views or opinions may not be the same – but people are entitled to hold them.

Being aspirational – an expectation that all pupils are capable of creativity and are able to make good progress in technical knowledge, skills and artistic processes

Being caring – Making and experiencing art can help promote and care for our mental well-being

Having integrity – expressing views and feelings truthfully in artwork

Being creative – exploring and communicating ideas through artistic expression 

Being community minded –Explore cultural heritage and create social bonds


Scope and sequence

The Opossum Art and Design curriculum fulfils and exceeds the requirements of the National curriculum.

Units of study have been sequenced to build pupils’ understanding as they progress through the school. Artistic studies in KS1 and 2 are planned using the Suffolk Art Scheme as a framework. This framework is sequenced to enable pupils to build on their existing knowledge in each domain studied and develop their schemata by incorporating new techniques, processes or artistic approaches. Studies are informed by the style of artists, significant in their specialist domain.

The specialisms included in the Opossum programme of study are: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Collage, Textiles and 3D/Sculpture – each of which is encountered in each year at school.

Supporting pupils’ artistic and cultural awareness is crucial when developing both their imagination and creativity. In the EYFS, children have regular opportunities to engage with art, exploring and experimenting with a range of media and materials. They are encouraged to communicate their thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions through art. By the end of Reception, pupils are expected to safely use tools and techniques to achieve a planned effect, share creations and verbalise the processes used to reach the final outcome. Pupils create artworks in guided focus activities and during the continuous provision that children can access each day. In the Reception class, children learn about a significant artist and their work each half term; they use this learning as a stimulus for their own creations. The selected artists represent both contemporary and historic artists, local and international artists and include males and females. Many children enjoy creating artworks and all are encouraged to explore their creative talents and to express themselves through art.

Learning in KS1 builds on the Early Years’ experience where pupils have explored a range of creative activities including, drawing, painting, junk modelling, patterning, 3D sculpture as part of their overarching topics. In KS1, topics of study are formalised into units of learning. Pupils learn skills, techniques and processes in the topics of drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, textiles and 3D. They become familiar with tools for specific artistic processes and the effects that can be achieved with them. Pupils learn about artists, significant in their field, and use their work as starting points for their own creations.

Learning in KS2 further develops the skills established in KS1. Pupils have the opportunity to refine previously learnt techniques and broaden the range of processes they can use. The curriculum emphasises self and peer review of pupils’ artwork so that they develop the ability to comment on artworks and suggest developments to works in progress. The curriculum continues to showcase the work of significant artists and the impact they have had on culture and society. Pupils are encouraged to use the style of significant artists and artistic movements as stimuli for their own compositions.