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Art at The Polygon School



Art is taught as a whole programme over five years. The curriculum is designed to begin at basics, introduce new techniques, and increase skill levels. Whilst doing this, the students learn where this can be applied in art, design, industry, creative industries, and their context. Students gain confidence through the learning of the skill and the use of it in a final outcome. Skills are revisited at different stages with increased difficulty and requirements. Students are encouraged to enjoy art foremost and become confident artists able to select subject matter, media, and equipment for a brief once they are in KS4.



To take students through from basics to competent, confident artists with a qualification.

To be inclusive to all students regardless of ability and previous experience

To celebrate their personal progress and exhibit work

To increase the cultural capital of all students regardless of starting point

To develop student opinion and appropriate expression

To ensure students realise a worth to their work and learning

For students to be aware of art as a visual language



Kolb’s theory ‘The Cycle of Experiential Learning’ is the foundation on which the curriculum is designed and delivered. Lessons alternate between learning a new skill, which will include participating in a demonstration, creative lessons where they will use the new media or technique learned, and theory lessons to develop research skills, knowledge, and vocabulary. Assessment of theory is through a practical piece with specific instruction, and assessment of projects and artworks is in line with Arts Awards and GCSE requirements dependent on key stage and levels. Students are entered for Arts Awards in Key stage 3 to develop confidence and engagement. The requirements for these build research and the autonomous skills needed for GCSE at KS4. The curriculum is flexible with topics to allow opportunities that arise using local galleries for workshops and student's work to be exhibited, and where possible, linked to other subjects or events. Students are encouraged to experiment and try new experiences, reflect, try again, and then use in a final piece or as part of a mixed media piece. An atmosphere of positivity with absolutely no ridiculing others’ work allows students to feel more comfortable expressing themselves. All lessons link to the previous and next lessons and are revisited with increasing difficulty through key phases, and subject-specific vocabulary is used from year 7. As an ArtsMarkschool, we participate in local creative events and have visiting artists, poets, and musicians. These often inform our whole school projects, as do global issues such as conservation, pollution, or historical events like Mayflower 400. We attend theatre performances and Into Film week which adds to their Arts Awards portfolios. Attending the SEFnetwork meetings introduces new opportunities in the community and support with assessment for exam standardisation. The participation in Southampton Cultural Education Partnership has provided free cultural experiences for the majority of our students to visit the theatre, art gallery, and a dance company that is themed to an upcoming project (2020) celebrating The Mayflower leaving Southampton 400 years ago. The students are working on a whole school project to be entered into an open exhibition in Southampton City Gallery in July 2020. The partnership has also provided training for 2 members of staff.


Key Stage 3

Year 7

Visual dictionary: decorate words in the style of their meaning, use in the creative piece, line hands negative/positive space, bonfire collage

Colour theory: colour wheel, mixing, and painting, Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles, ink marbling

Chinese New Year: ink with brushes animal painting

Artist Study: Matt Sesow, fact file poster on artist decorated in his style, artist sample copy, own response in artist style, evaluation.

Students have now learned line curve/straight, pattern, rows of colour, blended colour, colour wheel, drawing, collage, painting acrylic/watercolour, chalk pastels, mark-making techniques, vocabulary and ink work so have a basic ‘tool belt’ to refer back and draw upon for experience and confidence.

3D Clay coil pots

Whole school projects


Year 8

Hands: introduce ‘form’ line hands, Henry Moore

Superman: Pop Art, Warhol, enlarging by grid method, acrylic painting skills

Portraiture: Face map, self-portrait, artist styles, Julien Opie, Peter Blake, Van Gogh, painting, pencil

Chinese New Year: different animal, ink painting with brushes

Mosaic making: tiles and grouting, own initials

Hundertwasser Houses: study architecture, design elevations, acrylic painting on canvas, 3D clay all elevations, paint clay

Whole school projects


Year 9

Year 9 follows a mixture of any lessons or topics missed in KS3 with revisiting to embed the learning by increasing the difficulty of an outcome. Students are required to make mixed media pieces selecting appropriate media for the task such as marbling backgrounds and collaged subject, or watercolour backgrounds and acrylic solid objects. Written elements increase and develop a personal opinion and own research. Artist studies are developed in content and presentation. Students are encouraged to try different things and choose their work, including 3D cards, paper, and wire sculpture or model making. Self and peer verbal assessments if the cohort is stable.

Whole School projects


Key Stage 4

Students are set a brief which could be a title, topic, artist, and style or current event. Recent topics have included

Van Gogh: artist study, artist sample copy, research photos/images, personal response (self-portrait or still life) and evaluations

Leonardo Da Vinci: Vitruvian man, body proportions, charcoal line weighted drawing, figure drawing, animal, pencil

Plastic in the Sea: beauty in marine life, visit to ‘Discovery 2’ at Boat Show, Sir David Attenborough, marine images, painting, chalk pastel, marbling, mixed media, enlarging, research reports

Undiscovered: contemporary song/lyrics by James Morrison, performance art poetry, illustrators Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes. Students decide if undiscovered means a famous person they admire that had to work hard to be famous, something they might be when they are older and are as yet undiscovered, or an experience they have had/would like to try. Sketches, photos/images, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, charcoal, rework a photocopy, research, response. Negotiation with the teacher, selection of subject matter, media, equipment.

Whole school projects

Learning is supported with visual aids and objects, PowerPoint presentations, songs and lyrics, poetry, architecture, photographers, practical demonstrations, and performance art. Learning is underpinned by verbal 1:1  formative feedback, written formative and summative assessment, peer assessment, project and self-evaluation, verbal presentation to a third party (form tutor, Headteacher,  Deputy headteacher) in line with Arts Awards assessment, school marking policies, and GCSE requirements.



We have had students’ work exhibited at Tate Modern, London, Southampton City Gallery, Solent Showcase Gallery, John Hansard Gallery, on a Southampton billboard, and touring to Edinburgh with British Art Show 8. We use the gallery visits, workshops, and student exhibitions with our curriculum to inspire the students, such as whole school portraiture lessons when we participated in the award-winning ‘Small Faces’ exhibition at Solent Showcase and the Leonardo Da Vinci Schools’ Responseexhibition at Southampton City Gallery. Since introducing Arts Awards, more students are leaving with an art qualification and the students are able to acquire these awards at an earlier age. This helps with participation and sustaining their engagement. The display of student's work in the classroom and corridors means that younger students are able to see where their learning could be used, and what they are doing currently is leading to the next step. Students are able to discuss their work, opinions, and preferences with others using subject-specific vocabulary.


Here at The Polygon School we try lots of new styles and media in art. Alongside drawing and painting lessons we also make tile mosaics, ink marbling, 3D model work and try various ways of printing. We get involved with local artists, workshops and galleries and have had our students’ work exhibited at Tate Modern Gallery, London, Southampton City Gallery, Solent Showcase Gallery, John Hansard Gallery, Richard Tauntons Sixth Form College, a billboard at Ocean Village, Marlands Shopping Centre  and one of our projects was in the British Art Show 8 which toured galleries as far away as Edinburgh! The students involved in the projects and visits are chosen for each different one depending on the style of art. The lower school study a programme that builds experience and skills for the first two years that also allows time for whole school projects or current events that are coming up. In the upper school from Year 9 the students follow a programme that allows them more choice on the topic or subject of their work and so is more personalised. All students have the opportunity to achieve Arts Awards throughout their five years, and GCSE at the end of Year 11 with a full portfolio.


Polygon Boys’ work making an aeroplane cockpit at Tate Modern Gallery, London


















Polygon Boys’ work with Kev Munday displayed on a billboard by Ocean Village, Southampton


A whole school project – a tile mosaic






Art Long Term Map 2022-23