Head of Department/Faculty
Mrs Rachel Robbins
Head of Art
Do you want the power to engage people’s attention and express to them your ideas? Then make art and enjoy the process of creativity along the way too.
Art has the power to engage without the need for any language, yet it also provides us with the opportunity to discuss it for hours if we choose to. In lessons at Commonweal we encourage students to analyse and talk about artwork to foster a thorough understanding of what they are studying and what their opinions of it are.
Art has the power to express the maker’s emotions, chosen messages and visual recordings to wide-spread audiences in the hope to make themselves seen and heard and in turn entertain and perhaps inspire others. In lessons at Commonweal the purposes of making art are discussed as are the ideas behind the artworks. This insight, built on over time, is used to creatively inform students’ work particularly at KS4 and 5.
How do we know Art has these powers? Because it is everywhere around us. Art isn’t limited to the white walls of galleries, it is an important part of our everyday lives from the clothes we wear, the shop windows we pass, the packaging of our food, the buildings we work in, the apps on our devices and to the street art we live next to.
Tops Tips to do well in Art
Just do it.
There is no right or wrong answer in Art. The only way we get something wrong is to not attempt it.
Take a pride in your work.
It can be daunting to start a piece of artwork because it is so immediate for everyone to see but be brave and be proud of what you achieve.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like other subjects such as Music and PE, the more you ‘do’ the better you get. You will experience more ‘happy accidents’ which you can make more intentional next time and you will learn from your outcomes in order to improve next time too.
Take advantage of extra-curricular activities.
We run clubs and trips for all year groups so where possible, try to involve yourself. Learning outside the classroom is an important part of Art!
Make sure you reflectively annotate your work.
Write how you’ve created your artwork, why you’ve created it, how it links to other work and what you would do differently if you were to refine the idea/process.
All year groups look at and take inspiration from the work of historic and contemporary artists, craftspeople and designers. These artists are chosen to cover a range of styles however consideration has also been made to provide a mix of female and male artists and a range of nationalities too.
In all years, the formal elements in Art (line, tone, shape, space, form, texture, pattern and colour) are built into tasks to increasingly embed them into students’ art practice.
Students’ understanding of Tone and how to apply it is a focus for mastery each year and Colour is planned within the curriculum so to build on, link to and progress in a particular way each year, for example-
- Year 7- Tints and shades
- Year 8- Colour mixing
- Year 9- Application
- Year 10- Realism
- Year 11- Mood
Students’ sense of identity will also be explored through certain projects each year, for example-
Personal Identity in Year 7 through creating self-portraits and mood boards about themselves and Year 10/11 through a self-directed Identity project.
Local Identity in Year 8 through drawings recorded from Swindon’s industrial history.
Global Identity in Year 9 through studying sea life and issues concerning our oceans.
All Art classes are taught in mixed ability groups where differentiated tasks are available to support and stretch a full range of skill sets.
In KS 3
Students in Year 7 will learn to use a variety of media and making processes during two projects such as- ‘Portraiture’ and ‘Seed Pods’.
- ‘Portraiture’ students draw self-portraits using pencil, collage and watercolour, analyse the work of artists such as Picasso and Romero Britto and learn how to create a ceramic tile of a Cubist portrait.
- ‘Seed Pods’ students draw seed pods using pencil, ink and pen, analyse the work of artists such as Sophie Munns and learn how to design and create a poly-print.
Students in Year 8 will learn to use a variety of media and making processes during two projects such as- ‘Houses’ and ‘Mechanical Monsters’
- ‘Houses’ students draw houses using pencil, analyse the work of artist such as Emma Gale, create cut collaged ‘towns’ and learn how to create a cardboard constructed and acrylic painted house.
- ‘Mechanical Monsters’ students draw mechanical forms using pencil and oil pastel, analyse the work of artists such as Vladamir Gvozdev and learn how to design and create a clay pot based on their own mechanical monster.
Students in Year 9 will learn to use a variety of media and making processes during two projects such as-‘Sea Life’ and ‘Still Life’
- ‘Sea Life’ students draw sea life natural forms and creatures using pencil, watercolour, colour pencil and pen, analyse the work of artists such as Lisa Stevens and learn how to design and create a clay sculpture inspired by our oceans.
- ‘Still life’ students draw toys and other everyday objects thinking about composition in terms of an object’s height, colour, texture and shape. They will predominately refine their use of pencil and acrylic paint and look at more Abstract artists such as Holly Coulis or Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Students studying GCSE Fine Art have two components to their course- A ‘Portfolio’ (60% of GCSE) and an ‘Externally Set Assignment’ (40% of GCSE).
Component One (known as their ‘Portfolio’) consists of two projects during Year 10 and 11.
The first of which is mostly teacher led and guides them through completing tasks which address the four Assessment Objectives of the course. The second project then becomes more student led in order to encourage a strong sense of independent and creative decision making.
Two example project titles we use are- ‘Food’ (with sub themes of: Farming, Tea Party, Snacks, Decay) and ‘Identity’ (with sub themes of: Self, Place/Time/Culture, Music). Each project will contain preparatory sketchbook work and a final piece/s.
Component Two (known as their ‘Externally Set Assignment’) is a project set by the exam board in the January of Year 11. A series of seven starting points are provided and the students individually decide one of them to take forward into a sketchbook of preparatory work which is produced over approximately two half terms and then a final piece/s which is created during a 10hr exam.
Students produce work in sketchbooks ranging in size from A4 to A3 and over the three projects will cover a wide variety of artists, medias and techniques such as- collage, photography, painting, lino printing, image transfer, brusho and bleach, pencil and many more.
In KS 5
A level Fine Art is a linear course completed over two years. Year 12 is used as a foundation course in which students experiment with different media and processes and with idea gathering and forming. Year 13 comprises of two components- A ‘Personal Investigation’ (60% of A Level) and an ‘Externally Set Assignment’ (40% of A Level).
Students choose their own line of enquiry for Component One, known as their ‘Personal Investigation’. Over approximately five half terms students create a sketchbook of preparatory work, an essay supporting their practical findings and a final piece/s.
In the February of Year 13 they are set Component Two, known as their ‘Externally Set Assignment’. Students choose one starting point from the eight provided, to create a sketchbook of preparatory work from and then sit a 15hr exam to produce a final piece/s.
A desire to practice and invest time into creating artwork is key to making progress in Art and so Independent Learning tasks play an important role in achieving this.
In KS3 students have one piece of homework a half term which is linked to classwork and rewarded through house points and the chance to work towards an Art’s achievement tie badge.
In KS4 and KS5 students are encouraged to continue with their project work in their own time. Independent work means that they have more ownership over their ideas and practise the skills they would like to develop.
Enrichment and trip possibilities
Art clubs are run during break times (KS3) and after school (KS4) and have included making outcomes using clay to make Christmas decorations, cardboard to make masks and a range of other medias for a variety of outcomes. Art club attendees have also been responsible for creating several large-scale artworks to be displayed around the school site.
We believe that having the opportunity to visit artwork and to draw on location is a vital part of learning about and how to make art. Examples of our project driven trips include:
- Year 7- Oxford Botanical Gardens
- Year 8- Pitt Rivers and The Natural History Museum, Oxford
- Year 9- Bristol Aquarium
- Year 10- The Tate Modern and The Royal Academy of Arts
- Year 11- Saatchi Gallery
- Year 12- London experience and gallery visits
In KS3 students have assessment booklets which teachers use to identify the quality of student outcomes and areas for improvement. Students will also be given a holistic grade and some written feedback at the end of each project.
We introduce students to the main principles involved with creating artwork and have made these our ‘Areas of Assessment’. Students’ understanding of these principles are built on each lesson, over projects and academic years ready for if students choose to continue studying Art at GCSE or beyond when they become ‘Assessment Objectives’ set out by the exam board.
KS3 Areas of Assessment-
- Developing: Looking at the work of artists, designers and photographers and using their work to inform your own ideas when designing and creating outcomes.
- Experimenting: Exploring different materials and different techniques of how to use and apply them.
- Recording: Using observational skills to draw (thinking about shape, proportion, detail, tone and textures) and write insightful analysis about your own work and the work of others.
- Creating: Producing outcomes which build on and link to prior project tasks.
In KS4 and KS5 students have assessment booklets with project checklists inside. On these checklists tasks are RAG-ed and teacher feedback is given. Students are then graded at assessment points throughout the year and at the end of projects. Where a student’s quality of work surpasses their current working grade, this will be recorded too.
KS4 and KS5 exam board ‘Assessment Objectives’- these are equally weighted and assessed in each component of the course:
- AO1: Develop ideas through researching artists
- AO2: Refine work by exploring ideas, materials and techniques
- AO3: Recording ideas, in visual and other formats
- AO4: Presenting personal and meaningful outcomes