At St Mary’s Catholic School we pride ourselves on providing an exemplary curriculum for all students, including our students with special educational needs.  Our Year 7 to Year 13 curriculum is ambitious, broad and balanced, allowing all students to know more and remember more in lessons, and to achieve exceptional progress.  Our curriculum is planned to stretch and challenge all learners, with highly effective scaffolding in place to ensure our students with SEND and other additional needs also achieve highly.  Our curriculum meets and exceeds all national curriculum requirements.  Due to the numerous strengths and sustained success and impact of our curriculum year on year, St Mary’s supports many other schools within the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust and more widely to share this exemplary practice.

The Art curriculum is exemplary because:

  • It offers a broad, rich range of creative experiences for all students to explore the subject area through exciting practical activities including 2D & 3D artworks, exploring traditional Fine Art formal elements and techniques alongside contemporary experimental work. An emphasis on observational drawing and painting allows students to develop their recording skills, enabling them to acquire the vital skills they need to realise their ambitious ideas through high quality, personal, diverse and impressive pieces of Art.  
  • The curriculum is carefully planned and regularly reviewed to ensure our students continue to be offered and valuable opportunities as we adapt to the creative industries and incorporate current exhibiting artists and cultural movements. Our dedicated specialist teachers continually acquire and bring new techniques, methods & knowledge to our curriculum to inspire our students. 
  • We pride ourselves on embedding engaging Art history links, complimented with the inclusion of a diverse range of current practising artists and craftspeople into our curriculum. The curriculum develops visual literacy through the practical application of techniques alongside opportunities for students to develop their love of the subject through reading and creative literacy tasks.

The Art curriculum is ambitious, broad and balanced:

  • KS3 students are introduced to the formal elements to acquire sound observational skills in a wide range of materials.  We ensure our students gain confidence and a high level of skill in order to develop and express their own authentic ideas, leading to ambitious final pieces. At Key stage 4 & 5, students continue to build up their skill level, using more complex ideas and exploring their own strands of independent research. 
  • The curriculum is focused on students developing critical thinking skills and original ideas, underpinned by in-depth artists, movements and gallery research and visual analysis.
  • The curriculum allows students to secure and master their skills and knowledge in drawing, painting, printmaking processes, photography and sculpture.
  • Our broad and flexible curriculum ensures students are both supported and challenged to investigate themes in an independent way, ensuring all students are able to find a strand or style of Art to be passionate about.
  • Although supported throughout the process, students are set themes and activities to develop their problem solving skill. At times the curriculum requires them to take risks and manipulate materials in order to achieve their desired effect.

The Art curriculum has effective scaffolding to support our SEND students/students with additional needs:

  • The curriculum & lessons are effectively differentiated to ensure all students with SEND are well supported and encouraged to achieve their full potential in Art. This can involve adapting tools, materials and experimenting with techniques to find the most suitable one for the individual student.
  • Artist research tasks, verbal discussions, written analysis and practical skills are delivered in ways that meet the needs of all students, with the inclusion of high quality teacher modelling and the use of step by step visual guides throughout the lessons. More complex techniques (drawing, painting and sculpture) are broken down into shorter activities and revisited throughout key stages to build students’ independence and confidence.
  • Learning Support Assistants work closely with teachers to ensure each student’s individual needs are planned for and adaptations are made where necessary, for example, adapting print making techniques to support students with fine motor skills, or introducing photography and digital outcomes to build pupil confidence.
  • Teaching staff continually review the themes taught to ensure students are engaged, even at KS4 & 5 we continue to tailor students personal projects to their individual interests and strengths.
  • The curriculum is ambitious and challenging ensuring our students with SEND produce high quality art work they can be proud of.

The Art curriculum is worthy of sharing more widely with other schools because:

  • Our curriculum maintains high standards of technical skills with a balance of abstract and experimental work, which means our students are able to produce exceptionally high quality artwork at exam level and to gain places on prestigious creative degree courses. 
  • We have worked closely with other secondary and primary schools to offer guidance in project planning, offering skills workshops for students and teachers and how to achieve higher marks for exam classes.