Art and Photography

Joint Head of Department  - Mrs A Ashby and Mrs H Lee

Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in Art & Photography


Introduction to subject

In the Art department we aim to nurture students’ creativity, by creating a positive and inspiring environment which is inclusive and supports every individual.  Not only is Art a vital component of a student’s wellbeing; giving them opportunity to express themselves, it is also a subject that helps us to understand and give meaning to the world in which we live.  For these reasons, Art is an extremely valuable subject.  We aim to provide students with a broad, diverse and engaging curriculum, enabling students to develop their artistic skills whilst at the same time broadening their cultural capital, helping them to understand British values and underpinning the three strands of the St Martin’s vision and ethos: ‘traditional values’, ‘learning for the future’ and ‘outstanding personal achievement’.

Art at St Martin's closely follows the guidelines of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3, where all pupils are encouraged to work independently, experiment with a variety of materials and refer to other artists’ work.  GCSE and A-level students follow the AQA examination syllabus which offers opportunities for challenging, independent thinking; using personal experiences as inspiration as well as developing skills and techniques.

Photography is also offered at A-level and provides students with the opportunity to learn about digital photography and manipulation, as well as experimenting with more traditional darkroom photography techniques.

Why is the study of Art important?

“Learning through and about the arts enriches the experience of studying while at school as well as preparing students for life after school.  Arts subjects encourage self-expression and creativity and can build confidence as well as a sense of individual identity.” – Tate

Art allows students to build tools for self-expression, explore and understand their own emotions and the world around them, developing a visual language to express thoughts, feelings, ideas and observations.  Art helps students to build resilience through practice and refinement of skill, as well as promoting independence.  Art provides a language beyond that of academia, and allows all students, regardless of ability, to engage in and communicate through visual means, increasing confidence.

How does the study of Art develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?

Art develops versatility by promoting skills in a wide range of materials, techniques and processes including: drawing, painting, print-making, collage and 3D materials.  Students develop skills in problem solving and creative thinking, along with refining their fine motor skills.  Students learn how to be honest when analysing and evaluating their own work and the work of others, whilst increasing their knowledge, understanding, and empathy for other cultures, art movements, art styles, groups and people.  Students understand how to engage with artwork both through written, oral and visual means – exploring artists ideas and intentions within the work they produce.  Students develop time management skills by working to deadlines and organising their time to complete homework and projects throughout all key stages.  In KS3 students’ projects are based on artists, movements and other cultures that help to inspire the visual work they produce, whilst learning skills in a range of foundational fine art practices.  At KS4 and 5 students learn how to make more independent choices of the artists they study, in order to develop and refine their own artistic skills and develop a personal visual language.

How are students assessed in Art?

Students are assessed against the four Assessment Objectives, in line with the National Standard;   

AO1: Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.             

AO2: Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.

AO3: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses.                        

AO4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.

At KS3 students are given a baseline assessment in September and then assessed mid-way and at the end of each project.  They are given marks within the GCSE grading scale W (working towards) – 9.

At KS4 students are assessed throughout their workshops and projects with a GCSE grade between 1-9 given at various stages of their course.  Final assessment is weighted 60% Personal Investigation (coursework unit) and 40% ESA (exam unit).

At KS5 students are assessed regularly throughout their workshops and projects with grades awarded between A*-U in line with the A-level National Standard.  Final assessment is weighted 60% Personal Investigation (coursework unit) and 40% ESA (exam unit).

Formative feedback and the feedback loop are an essential part of students’ assessment within Art.  With ongoing verbal feedback given during lessons, written feedback, regular self-assessment and dedication improvement and reflection time (DIRT), students are able to continuously improve their work and develop their skills to the highest possible standard.

How does Art support learning in other areas of the curriculum?

Within Art at KS3 students study projects that link to science within the year 8 “Cells” project; history within the year 8 “Giacometti” project; maths and DT within the year 7 “Cakes” and year 9 “1-Point Perspective” and “Portraits” project.  Across all key stages, Art supports learning in other areas of the curriculum by developing the following skills: project management, independence, problem solving, creativity, time management, resilience, patience, fine motor skills, emotional understanding and cultural exchange.

How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in Art?

Students can extend and deepen their knowledge in Art by attending art clubs in school.  There are various clubs that run at lunch and after school every week within the department, including a KS3 art club and various GCSE and A-level clubs for students to develop their coursework and refine their skills.

We run a variety of trips to deepen students’ cultural capital within the subject, including trips to London galleries and other areas of interest.

Visiting galleries and museums to experience art in real life will also help to extend and deepen students’ knowledge of the subject, alongside reading widely about artists, artistic movements and art techniques.  To help improve, refine skills and develop their abilities, students should practice art beyond the classroom, honing their knowledge of techniques and processes, and extending their control of materials.

How does Art link to the world of work?

The Art industry in the UK is an important one which provides many opportunities in a wide range of careers and vocations.

“Art and culture contributes £10.6 billion to the UK economy - the UK has a creative economy worth £27billion and culture brings £850million to UK, through tourism, each year”Arts Council England

Students who study Art may choose to pursue a career within the Art industry.  The mind-map below gives an overview as to just a handful of the many art careers available. There is more information in the ‘Art Careers’ link below.

By studying Art, students also acquire many transferable skills that employers value throughout many other areas of work, including creative problem solving, strong observational, research and analytical skills, the ability to develop individual ideas and collaborate with others as part of a team, and communication skills, to name a few. 

 How does Art link to the three strands of our core values?
Traditional Values
Learning for the Future
Outstanding Personal Achievement

Within the Art curriculum, schemes of work develop students’ empathy towards a diverse range of artists, cultures, backgrounds and time periods. For example; students in Key Stage 3 explore an LGBTQ artist during the Still Life project, an artist effected by WWII in the Giacometti Project and different native communities within the African Masks project.

Students are polite, considerate and respectful during all aspects of their lessons, including group discussions, teamwork, questioning for learning, class and peer assessment tasks and independent working time.

Students are punctual to lessons and all lessons are well attended. They are equipped for learning and have completed home learning on time. 

Students treat all equipment with respect and are taught to use them in a safe and responsible manner.

Students take pride in the presentation of their work, developing their ability to present in an interesting, creative and exciting format.  This ranges from concertina sketchbooks, A1 presentation boards and traditional sketchbooks. 

Students are independent and are taught to make informed decisions about their work.  Tasks at Key Stage 3 guide students to take personal responsibility and create individual pieces of work, with Key Stage 4 and 5 students devising their own area of study to explore for their personal art investigations.

Students are able to reflect on their artwork using a range of feedback strategies and will make improvements to enhance their desired outcomes.


Students are able to use a variety of processes that are utilised within the Creative Arts industry. From referencing artists and cultures, experimenting with materials and refining designs and techniques, skills in observation and recording ideas, and creating personal, final outcomes. 

Students are confident and versatile in using a range of materials within the world of Art. These include graphite, pencil, pen, pastel, printing, paint, 3D sculptural materials and clay. 

Students are engaged with extra-curricular activities which enhance their Art curriculum, including weekly art clubs for all Key Stages both at lunchtime and after school, along with trips to London galleries for Key Stage 4 and 5, Harry Potter Studios for Key Stage 3 and local places of interest for Year 12.

Students learn how to professionally present a portfolio of artwork, preparing them for both further education and the world of work.

Students develop resilience by building upon their art skills each year, developing prior learning whilst at the same time learning new concepts and having opportunity to hone and refine their artistic techniques.

Students know how different types of art can offer a range of career opportunities. For example; in Key Stage 3, projects explore scientific molecular art, architecture and range of contemporary practising, selling and exhibiting artists.

Students understand the opportunities that a GCSE and post-16 in an Art subject can present.  They are ambitious and students are keen to study this beyond their time at St Martin's.

Students are constantly striving to ‘Be The Best They Can Be’ in Art.  They are determined to produce the best possible outcomes and progress in all aspects of the subject.  This is reflected in students’ attitude within lessons, attendance to extra-curricular clubs, the work they complete and in the grades they are awarded at the end of Key Stage 4 and 5.   

Students are able to use Art as a form of self-expression, creativity and individual identity. 

Students are passionate about Art and have confidence in using a wide range of artistic processes.

Through Art, students have developed strong critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills and the ability to interpret the world around them.   

Sustained projects in Art allow students the opportunity to manage their time, deadlines and become excellent self-managers.

Students develop the ability to self, peer and group assess their work, learning to give feedback in an honest manner, enabling them to improve their work effectively.

Students demonstrate a high level of enthusiasm and enjoyment when studying Art.  This cumulates in a Summer Exhibition to celebrate student successes.

Students develop their cultural capital with British values embedded into their learning.  Students explore a range of artists throughout the curriculum who have and are shaping the world of Art; from historical figures such as Picasso to contemporary artists such as Sarah Graham. 



In St. Martin’s Art department, we closely follow the school’s curriculum implementation of shared learning intentions, retrieval practice and effective assessment to ensure we provide the very best learning opportunities for our students.  

Shared Learning Intentions:  Collaborative curriculum planning lies at the heart of what we do in the department and as a result we have constructed a coherently sequenced, fun and challenging learning journey which builds upon prior knowledge, introduces new skills and tackles increasingly complex concepts.  We have carefully mapped out key themes and concepts which progress across the key stages.  Our visual learning journeys are displayed on a huge scale within each classroom and regularly discussed with our students, along with project and lesson learning intentions which are embedded, shared and reviewed within our daily lesson delivery.   

Retrieval Practice:  Our Art curriculum is designed to help students remember long term content and integrate new knowledge through a range of retrieval practice opportunities.  This is a vital aspect within our subject; an artist must be able to review their prior knowledge and continually practice it, in order to hone their talents and become a skilled craftsman.  Throughout all key stages of Art at St Martin’s, students will continue to build and refine skills across the years.  Art lessons ensure that students are continually building upon knowledge of art techniques and practicing foundational skills in Art.  Lessons recall skills and knowledge learnt in previous lessons and key stages, with a focus on composition, form, tone, observation as well as refining skills in art processes and a variety of media including drawing, painting, printmaking and design.  

Effective Assessment: We use a range of assessment strategies to support our students learning in Art; from verbal, written, informal, formal, self, peer and teacher assessed.  We find the most successful type of feedback in Art is one that is both in ‘real time’ (so students can immediately review and develop their work in response) and involves the student (so that they can take ownership of both their work and their progress).  We are therefore strong advocates of an ongoing verbal feedback loop with each student, which is individually tailored to their own skills, knowledge and interests.  To support alongside this, we also use written marking sheets that we have specifically designed and tailored for each project from year 7 through to year 13, to ensure a rigorous feedback loop and effective assessment process.    

Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) 

Students have many DIRT opportunities within their Art lessons and use both their verbal and written feedback to develop and improve their work.  We use a WWW and EBI +1 approach in all our feedback, so that students can take time to acknowledge their successes and then focus on how to improve their work to the next grade.  Some of our DIRT activities call for just 2 minutes of lesson time, for example when students need to quickly respond to their EBI on a design they worked on last lesson, before moving on to new knowledge in applying media this lesson.  Other DIRT activities may be for a full lesson, for example, at the end of a 10 lesson project where key stage 3 students are given time to reflect and improve upon their entire project independently using feedback.  DIRT is an ongoing activity at key stage 4 and 5, where students continually improve and refine their practical work in response to both verbal and written feedback throughout the entirety of their course. 

Questioning for Understanding 

In Art we use a variety of questioning for understanding techniques within our lessons, including the ‘no hands up’ policy to ensure that we are inclusive of all.  We also regularly use ‘think, pair, share’ to offer students the wait time that is a crucial opportunity for them to retrieve their prior knowledge and organise their thoughts. 

Teachers' subject knowledge:  The Art department is made up of highly knowledgeable and well-qualified teachers, with over 40 years of collective professional experience, who use a range of pedagogical methods to engage and inspire our students.  Two of our teachers also moderate both GCSE and A-level Art for the exam boards, which ensures our assessment procedures are robust and accurate and that we stay up to date with all qualification information.   

Personal development in curriculum implementation:  We aim to give students the skills they need for future learning and employment, whether that be in within the Art industry or not, our subject has many transferrable skills that enable students to succeed in a vast variety of career sectors.  Embedded within all our Art lessons and schemes of work are the personal skills and attributes we focus on at St Martin’s School to ensure every student can THRIVE; helping to develop their skills in teamwork, honesty, resilience, independence, versatility and empathy.  A few examples are; giving opportunities for ‘honesty’ in expressing personal opinions about works of art, growing ‘resilience’ in creating complex, detailed and time-consuming pieces of artwork, developing ‘independence’ in allowing students to develop their own increasingly individual art projects, and embracing ‘versatility’ in exploring many different styles, methods and techniques of artwork and art media. 


We believe that our students experience an exceptionally well-planned curriculum in Art and as a result students acquire the cultural capital, skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the next stage of their life.  Students that study art have the knowledge to pursue a career within the creative industries, as well as many transferrable skills that will help them to succeed in all aspects of their future.  They leave us well-rounded individuals who have an understanding of the world of art, confidence in using a wide range of artistic processes and are able to express their individual creativity.  This is evidenced in both the quality of work produced across the year groups and our outstanding results which consistently sit above the GCSE and A-Level National Average in both attainment and progress. 

Our curriculum is enhanced through a range of extra-curricular activities.  These are designed to further develop students’ artistic ability as well as enriching their cultural capital, British values and SMSC development.  We run weekly KS3, GCSE and A-level Art clubs along with targeted art days at weekends and in the holidays throughout the year for Years 11 and 13.  In year 9 we visit Harry Potter Studios, so that students can explore career opportunities within the art and design sector.  At Key Stage 4 and 5 we visit London galleries to help students embed their knowledge of art history and develop their cultural understanding.  We run an annual LGBTQ art competition and participate in the Royal Academy’s ‘Young Artist Summer Show’ competition.  Our curriculum also hosts a weekly ‘ARTiculate’ session as part of the timetable, where students selected by our SEND department partake in a 6-week Art Therapy programme.  This is a small art based-intervention group with a focus on wellbeing, reducing anxiety and developing emotional literacy.   

We take pride in celebrating our students’ work.  We hold an annual Summer Art Exhibition which celebrates our students’ success and brings the local community together.  Our art rooms and corridors are filled to the brim with students’ artwork from all key stages, which reflect the sense of pride that students have in their own and their peers’ work as well as inspiring others.  

A number of our students move on to study art related subjects at university.  Over recent years some examples include Fine Art, Photography, Commercial Photography, Interior Architecture, Illustration, Fashion Styling and Production, and Graphic Design.  Students have received offers from prestigious universities including University of the Arts London (UAL), University College London (UCL), The Institute of Photography at Falmouth University, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and Cambridge University.
The guide to great art on the internet
The National Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Tate online
The Victoria and Albert museum
The Photographers’ Gallery
Photoshop Art
Contemporary Art Site