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Art & Design

Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale

In Art and Design learners focus on the formal elements of art and some basic principles of design; the building blocks of art.  They look at how the elements and principles are used in famous historical artworks and how these can be applied to their own work.

Learners are encouraged to develop their understanding of art through the analysis of their work and the work of others.  They learn to use specialist art vocabulary in order to explain their work and ideas.

Planned visits to galleries and other venues help to widen the experiences of learners and also provides contextual stimulus for the development of their own work and ideas.

Learners also learn about career opportunities within the creative industries and the contributions of those industries to the UK economy.



Year 7: Autumn Term

We deliver the ‘Formal Elements’ to all Y7 learners. This introduces them to the basics of art education, and we focus on exploring these formal elements throughout the first year. The formal elements include line, shape, form, texture, tone, pattern and colour. Learners are taken through these elements and are expected to develop their understanding and use of these with their own work. Practicing with the techniques of tonal shading builds technical skill as well as confidence. Learners are taught some colour theory with references to Isaac Newton and Johannes Ittens and the differences between their respective theories on colour and colour relationships. They are also taught about primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colours and are instructed to develop a colour wheel/star which explains these colour relationships. Learners also produce a colour grid where graduation of tone is experimented with and an A2 sheet is created demonstrating their control of tones. This also cements the knowledge that the learners have gained and repetition of the information also reinforces that learning.

Year 7: Spring term

The spring term focuses on observational skills. The topic we use is still-life and we explore allegorical paintings.  Learners study the conventions of symbolism and explore how symbolism is used in art. They create studies based on the ‘Vanitas’ by Pieter Claesz and provide written analysis of the same. They then generate original still life set-ups which are either allegorical or personal and produce drawn/painted and relief work from this. The new specification at GCSE has placed an emphasis on observational drawing as a means of generating ideas and developing work. This is where learners produce studies based on objects which are in front of them and is known as drawing from a primary source. Learners can incorporate skills gained from term 1 to develop their work. Tonal shading, mark making, texture and colour can all be employed to develop work and generate avenues of exploration.  The development of observational skills is continuous and incremental in nature. Repetition of observational tasks leads to more defined skills and an awareness of mark making will lead to improved outcomes.  

Year 7: Summer Term

In the Summer term the human figure is explored via the superheroes SOW. Learners make studies from secondary (photographs) source material of the human figure, face, hands and amalgamate these to create an original character. They develop the costumes for these characters and also generate the ‘origins of character’. This is a short piece of writing which explains how their character gained their special powers. The conventions of comic front covers are discussed and explored and learners come up with their own front cover designs. This is a chance for learners to use some of the skills they have gained from the previous term.


Year 8: Autumn Term

In the first term of year 8 the aim is to build on the knowledge acquired in Y7 and to consolidate that prior learning. The focus for the first term is on developing learners' understanding of artists, art genres, contextual issues within art and to have a general understanding of the chronology of art from a Western perspective. These related topics usually come under the umbrella of ‘Art history’ and are typically studied at GCSE/A level. The revised GCSE specification has placed additional emphasis on learners supporting their work by referring to the work of established artists. This requirement has made the academic element of art and design courses more difficult, and means that learners with low levels of literacy find it harder to successfully access the written elements of the course. The use of a specialist art vocabulary has also meant that literacy and the ability to express opinions and ideas about one's own work and the work of others is of real importance. The Art timeline (Tate Modern) is used to visually illustrate the chronology of artists and helps learners to place artwork in a specific period of time. The timeline starts from the late 1800’s to mid-2000 and pinpoints the major movements and developments in western art. Learners look at 11 different artists from a range of genres and produce analysis of selected artworks from those artists. They must learn the different artists, titles of their work, genre the work belongs to, date created and be able to place these works chronologically in order. The intention is to expose the learners to art and artists that they might be familiar with and to develop their knowledge and understanding of those artists and their art. It would be impossible to feature every genre or artist and so the artists and their works have been carefully selected in order to highlight key developments and movements over the past 100 years or so. Learners are asked to create studies of ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism). They replicate the marks that the artist has used, submit their opinions on their work, create a modern response and analyse the work of the artist. The work of Ralph Goings (Photo-Realism) is also studied. Learners produce a detailed copy and consider aspects of the work such as refraction, reflection and distortion. This counts as visual analysis and is good practise for the development of these skills and techniques.

Year 8: Spring term

The Spring term is dedicated to the development of original designs based on the works of the 11 artists. Learners select parts or elements of the artworks and incorporate them into original designs for shoes/trainers. Annotations are to be included, using specialist art vocabulary, which explain why they have made the choices they have made.  This is something that has to be done at GCSE and again provides an opportunity for practising and developing this skill set. The combination of contextualised art history, annotated original designs and the analysis of the artwork of established artists meets the criteria for the awarding of marks in GCSE art and design. Learners who are able to complete these tasks are generally capable of coping with the rigours of the GCSE course and can develop their confidence when dealing with similar tasks.

Year 8: Summer Term

In the summer term learners study the conventions which apply to the art of the Aboriginal people of Australia.  We study the history and the reasons for Aboriginal art. Learners develop their understanding of the cultural significance of this art form and the importance of the art to the socio-religious aspects of the Aboriginals. Learners practise designing the symbols and the meanings behind those symbols and incorporate these into their own work. The learners create a design based on simplified animal forms and then add Aboriginal style patterns/symbols to decorate. They finish off their designs by adding media/materials to develop fully. At the end they analyse their work using specialist art vocabulary.


Year 9: Autumn Term

In year 9 we focus on the portrait and portraiture from different perspectives. We consider various approaches to portraiture and examine a range of styles associated with the genre. Learners are asked to produce a portrait using a grid in order to experience scaling up an image. They then generate copies of famous portraits to practise the styles and techniques of the work of artists. They look at the work of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Khalo and Chris Ofili in order to develop an understanding of the contextual issues connected with these artists. In the case of Ofili this relevance is explored and learners are encouraged to see the connections between real-life issues and art. Learners are then directed to produce celebrity portraits before attempting their self-portraits. The learners are encouraged to use a range of scales, media, materials and approaches to their portraits, in order to develop their work and ideas.

Year 9: Spring term

In the Spring term learners are invited to develop their own personal portraits/self-portraits.  They look at the styles and compositions of different portraits and begin to create their own self-portrait.  They employ the skills and techniques that they have previously studied and begin to design and develop their own portraits.  Learners can select any media, material or technique to produce their designs.  The choices the learners make will inform the direction of their work.   Learners will begin their own portraits by using original photographs which they will bring in.  They use the grid technique to enlarge their photographs and consider what type of background they would like to have as part of their compositional considerations.   Learners are encouraged to use a variety of different media/materials, techniques and processes to create their final piece responses, such as paint, collage, graphite, printmaking, pastels/chalks and mixed media.

Year 9: Summer Term

The summer term is focused on 3-D art. This allows learners to engage in construction and to develop mask-making skills and techniques. Learners look at the phenomena of masks from different times and cultures and, through group discussions, deepen their understanding of the cultural impacts of identity and being. Different types of masks are researched as well as the purpose of these masks.  Learners understand that masks can be decorative or functional and design their own masks accordingly. Experimentation with different media, materials, techniques and formats is also required at GCSE and 3-D making comes within this sphere. The making requires time to be spent and cannot be rushed nor shortcuts taken. To facilitate this and to ensure that there are completed outcomes, the making of masks can continue over both half-terms. 

Unit overview - autumn term 

Subject: Formal Elements


  • Use a ruler accurately and produce a grid.
  • To be able to blend and mix colours.
  • To develop, through experimentation, appropriate use of the formal elements.
  • Tonal shading techniques.
  • Produce primary source observational work.
  • Use of specialist art vocabulary.


  • Recognise and name the formal elements: Line, Shape, Form, Tone, Texture, Pattern and Colour.
  • Recognise Primary, Secondary, Complementary and Tertiary colours.
  • Understand colour relationships.
  •  Understanding of refraction.
  • Understanding of reflection.
  • Understanding of distortion.
  • Understand the colour theory of Isaac Newton.
  • Understand the colour theory of Johannes Ittens.
  • Able to use a colour wheel to identify colour relationships.
  •  Techniques of tonal shading.
  • Use of art materials
  • Health and Safety in the classroom.



  • Learners will require an understanding of the formal elements in order to make progress with their work and ideas.
  • Repetition of techniques develops skills and confidence.
  • Specialist Art vocabulary is developed through understanding and use of the Formal Elements.
  • The symbolism associated with colour permeates many aspects of modern life.  An understanding of these will have a beneficial effect on all aspects of academic and social activities.

Unit overview  - spring term                                                                             

Subject: Observational


  • To be able to draw objects from direct observation.
  • To develop studies using aspects of the formal elements.
  • Accuracy of mark making.
  • Develop drawing and painting proficiency.
  • Use of art materials.


  • Understand scale and proportion
  • Application of tonal shading techniques
  • Able to identify primary source materials
  • Able to identify secondary source materials
  • Understanding of allegory.
  • Understanding of symbolism.


  • The selection of materials for observational studies can inform the work and learners have to learn to make appropriate choices according to their intentions.
  • Different skills need to be used to develop the work
  • The development of observational skills is continuous and incremental in nature.
  • Repetition of observational skills leads to more defined skills and an awareness of the possibilities of mark making.
  • The ability to de-code messages, or to relay your own messages subtlety, can be useful in everyday life.  Knowing that objects can have symbolic meanings, can help to develop a deeper understanding of themes and topics within the curriculum.


Unit overview - summer term 

Subject: Super Hero


  • To be able to draw the human figure
  • To develop understanding of design protocols
  • Creative writing
  • Use of specialist art vocabulary
  • Complete Final Piece, from initial ideas.


  • The proportions of the human body
  • Convention of comic cover designs
  • Understanding of primary sources
  • Understanding of secondary sources
  • Compositional rules.
  • Health and Safety in the classroom.


  • The human figure is explored through the development of the superhero character.
  • From secondary and primary sources, learners create studies of the figure, face, and hands and amalgamate these to produce an original character.
  • This allows for further development of the skills acquired in term 1.
  • The ability to merge primary source material with imagination, forms the basis of creative practise in art.


Knowledge Organisers

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.