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.
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 dependent on key stage and levels. Students are entered for Discover Arts Awards in Key stage 3 to develop confidence and engagement. The requirements for this build the research and autonomous skills needed for the progression through the Arts Awards. The curriculum is flexible to allow opportunities that arise with extra funding to work with galleries and artists on local projects. By using local galleries and arts companies for workshops we can often facilitate student's work to be exhibited publicly, linked to other subjects, and local or historical or events. Students are encouraged to experiment and try new experiences, reflect, try the new experience 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 safe and 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 ArtsMark school, we participate in local creative events and have visiting artists, poets, actors and musicians. These often inform our whole school projects, as do global issues such as conservation, pollution, or historical events. We attend theatre performances such as Lion King at the Mayflower Theatre and the cinema for Into Film week which adds to their Arts Awards portfolios. Attending the Southampton Education Forum meetings introduces new opportunities available in the community and support with moderation for exam standardisation. The participation in Creative Partnership has provided free cultural experiences for the majority of our students to access a visiting Avatar spray artist workshop and see the resulting work transformed into a coherent art piece on the inside of our perimeter wall to be seen from the playground and football pitch.
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, Van Gogh Sunflowers acrylic stippling
Chinese New Year: ink painting 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
Hands: introduce ‘form’ line hands, Henry Moore
Portraiture: Face map, self-portrait, artist styles, Julien Opie, Peter Blake, Van Gogh, painting, pencil
3D modelling: 3D clay heads
Avatar: Development of identity and imaginary characteristics
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 will continue with Arts Awards, moving to Bronze level. They will finish a mixture of any lessons or topics missed in KS3 including revisiting skills or topics to embed the learning by increasing the difficulty of the outcome. Students are encouraged 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 are required to develop a personal opinion, planning, demonstration and evaluation and inform students’ own research. Artist studies are developed in content and presentation. Students are encouraged to experiment with materials, equipment and to be able to select subject matter. Discussing and demonstrating their work is also a requirement for Arts Awards as well as self and peer assessments.
Whole School and cross curricular projects
Students continue their pathway through Arts Awards and are set a brief which could be a title, topic, artist, 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
Avatar workshops for street art spray painting
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, body proportions, charcoal line weighted drawing, figure drawing, animal, pencil
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, watercolour, acrylic, pastels, charcoal, rework a photocopy, mosaic, research, response. Negotiation with the teacher, selection of subject matter, media and equipment.
At all levels 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 and school marking policies.
We have had students’ work exhibited at Tate Modern, London, Southampton City Gallery, Solent Showcase Gallery, John Hansard Gallery, and touring to Edinburgh with British Art Show 8. We have made public art on our school wall and on a Southampton billboard, 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’ Response exhibition at Southampton City Gallery. We have exhibited in online exhibitions also. 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 as there are up to 4 levels to progress through at school. The levels equate to an entry level, grade 1-3 and grade 4 and above equivalent to GCSE on the RQF (Regulated Qualification Network) 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