‘Art is a place for children to learn to trust their ideas, themselves and to explore what is possible.’ Maryann F Kohl 

Art and Design Curriculum

At Courtwood we want our children to be passionate about art and excited about their learning, developing both their practical art skills and understanding and their knowledge of great artists, craftspeople and art works. Children are encouraged to explore, experiment and create their own works of art, inspired by the work of others (including their peers and the greats) and to reflect upon what went well and where they can improve. They are also taught to develop a personal response to artists’ work. Sketchbooks are used from Year 1 upwards, to encourage children to record their ideas and see the sequence of their learning. Artists and craftspeople are studied from a variety of backgrounds, time periods and cultures and the development of children’s foundational knowledge and cultural capital is supported through this teaching. Our knowledge organisers support the teaching sequences in classrooms.

The art curriculum is organised into three strands. These are: Portraiture; The Natural World and World Art and one is studied for half a term each year. Children develop either their drawing, painting and colour or printing, collage or sculpture skills in these contexts.

The Portraiture strand provides children with the opportunity to consider the idea of identity (their own and others) as they grow and learn during their time at Courtwood. It links to the curriculum aim of developing responsible, confident young people who demonstrate tolerance and respect for others, and understand how to develop a sense of self, valuing other’s ideas, differences and contributions. There are wider links with the PSHE and RE curriculums, as well as British Values and SMSC.

The Natural World strand ties into Courtwood’s outdoor learning ethos and curriculum offer, by making links in a cross-curricular way to the great outdoors, ensuring children develop a growing knowledge of the outside world. This will include studying the work of painters, sculptors and craftspeople. It also aims to address local need – providing opportunities for our children to connect with nature, understand it better and become informed citizens, leading healthy and active lives. Children will have the opportunity to use the school grounds, including our woods and Edible Playground, in art lessons throughout the key stages.

The World Art strand aims to support pupil’s cultural, social and geographical understanding, including a country’s heritage and arts history. It provides the opportunity to study native art and artists and develop an understanding of art across the world, thereby increasing pupil’s cultural capital. We hope this understanding will ensure children are aware of cultures around the world and ensure they can be active, positive citizens in the local and wider community.

All classes start each year with drawing in the autumn term and then move into painting and colour skills in the spring term. This enables us to see clear progression vertically between the year groups and can be tailored to ensure children encounter the best exemplars of these art forms. In the summer term, having developed their technical skills, knowledge and understanding, Key Stage 1 learn about printing, Lower Key Stage 2 about collage and Upper Key Stage 2 about sculpture. This ensures a progressive approach to 3D work between each Key Stage.

Each year starts with a focus on drawing skills to enable children to practise and embed the basic skills. This incorporates the formal National Curriculum elements of line, tone, shape and in some areas, texture.

Drawing skills are then built on, with pupils beginning to paint and learn about colour. This enables them to build on their existing drawing skills. This incorporates the formal National Curriculum elements of line, tone, shape and colour.

In the summer term, children move on to a further art skill: either printing, collage or sculpture. Printing is primarily 2D based, collage both 2D and beginning to introduce 3D; and sculpture 3D. This incorporates the formal National Curriculum elements of shape, form and texture, progressively.

To see how our drawing, painting and colour and 3D skills develop, see our “Art Progression by Skill Area” document.


Subject-specific vocabulary is identified from the Academic Word List (AWL) to best equip pupils to use these words confidently in an art context, in readiness for future academic work. The words are not ordered progressively by year group; they are instead encountered in the strands/units, to which they have authentic links. Words can therefore be encountered several times during a child’s art journey at Courtwood, allowing retrieval, consolidation and deepening understanding.

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