Sunday, 15 May 2016

More art not less

It's that time of year when exams start. My eldest son has his first GCSE exam this week and my daughter has just taken her options. The year 6 students at the school I work in have just taken their SATs and a couple of weeks ago Ofsted paid us a visit.  There has been much change to the curriculum in the UK and the government first of all want all schools to become academies and then change their mind! Schools want to have outstanding Ofsted ratings and teachers are suck in the middle trying to make sense of it all. All these things have prompted me to write this post.

We went off to my daughters high school a couple of weeks ago to meet with her form teacher in order to agree her options for GCSE (She's only in year 8 and options are usually taken in year 9, but let's not get into that one).

Actually the process was quite painless. She knew which options she wanted to take and the school were happy with them too. She chose Art, Drama, Spanish and Geography. Completely her own choice, and supported by us. I know of other schools where students have been told they can't do arts subjects and they have been forced down a more 'academic' route. This saddens me as the arts have been left out of the EBacc and many schools are squeezing them out of the curriculum. Less art at KS3 and fewer GCSE classes. Often not replacing arts teachers when they leave.

I'm glad that the school my children go to recognises their abilities and preferences and will let them take the subjects they are interested in. Both my sons are quite academic, but they both have an arts subject. One took music and the other product design. I know that my daughter will thrive doing the arts and it's her ambition to become a drama teacher.

I'm also fortunate to work in a school that values the arts. Since starting there in 2014 I've seen students become passionate artists. From learning new techniques to working as artists and creating individual pieces that reflect their personalities. There's still a long way to go, but I'm so impressed with the work they have created and I wanted to share some of it here (sorry for the picture heavy post, but I am one proud teacher).

We started the year with quite traditional techniques and then work increasingly independently as they become more confident. I expect a lot from my students and they do work hard. But it's a different sort of work to English and Maths but is still rigorous and fun! This different way of working allows students to develop creativity in a wider context and become wholistic learners.

Some students really do engage with all aspects of art and you can see the joy on their faces as they create work or learn a new technique. Others just enjoy the physicality of the subject and engage with the messy stuff. I have just started some clay work with year 7 and they are having a whale of a time with it. I will share some as they progress.

Making and creating is part of being human and should be fostered in our education system at all levels.

I'm glad to be where I am at the moment. I get to be part of developing creativity in young people and that is set to increase next year as we run an arts trip to London and start to deliver the Arts Award for our students. I'm excited for this and can't wait to see the young people I work with grow and develop. #moreartnotless.

Year 5 South American inspired masks, Year 6 Still Life food, Year 7 Impressionistic Lamdscapes, Year 8 Portraits and Tom Phillips style found Poetry. Still to come. Year 5 using colour and pattern, Year 6 Printmaking. Year 7 Hybrid animals in clay and year 8 recycled book art.


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