Visual Arts

Through our rich, exciting and challenging curriculum, our intention is to equip our students with a repertoire of practical skills that can be applied to a wide range of art and design practices regardless of their prior experiences or skills gained at Primary school. We encourage our students to have high aspirations, experiment and explore media, materials, techniques and processes, and not be afraid to make mistakes but to experience art in a fulfilling and meaningful way, irrespective of natural ability.

Lessons are designed to offer a mix of direct instructional teaching and personal investigation, so students can see how we model the tasks and techniques before having the opportunity to explore them in their own individual way. KS3 learn the fundamental concepts of the visual language (line, tone, colour, texture, pattern, form and shape) and how to apply these to different situations and activities, many of which cut across a range of eras, art movements and cultures. The breadth of our Art curriculum is designed to be progressive; we develop skills and knowledge that gradually prepare students for study at GCSE level, where they are then able to hone their interests by specialising in one of the varied disciplines we offer. GCSE is all about individual interpretation, so through our specially designed programmes of study, students apply their prior skills and knowledge whilst also learning a whole range of new ones. We fully embrace developing a growth mindset and encourage measured risk taking and exploring a wide range of media and techniques to help strengthen students’ resilience and perseverance; we foster a culture where making mistakes is the norm and a central and important part of the creative process. In doing so, students also gain self-belief because they are not hindered by the fear of failure. All of these experiences prepare them extremely well for future study at A-level where they build upon the years of study at GCSE and acquire more advanced and sophisticated skills and knowledge; fundamentally setting them up to be able to access an Art Foundation course at college, or a specialised degree course at university. In addition to all the skill acquisition gained, we also develop student independence throughout the 7-year programme. By GCSE we expect our students to take more responsibility for their own learning and engage in more peer-to-peer support. Students quickly learn to offer each other advice and guidance which helps them to refine their practice through a culture of mutual respect.

Understanding the context of Art is also integral to our practice. Unique to Crossley Heath, our very able students thrive in this creative subject with similar high academic rigour to that seen in Core subjects; thus, we teach our students about the History of Art and how it fits into the development of different disciplines and practices. They learn how to “read” art and develop the ability to analyse in detail, write fluently and discuss eloquently with genuine interest and insight. Visits to local, national and international galleries helps students to fully appreciate Art at first hand and we are passionate about instilling a culture of inquisitive learning into our practice.

We strongly believe that the development of art skills is a journey and not a destination and we encourage our students to be open-minded, to give everything a go and be persistent in their pursuit of personal exploration.

Visual Arts at Key Stage 3

The KS3 curriculum is constructed to take students on a 100-year chronological journey through several key Art movements starting with the French Impressionist movement (1860) through to Op Art (1960). Each project builds from the last whilst also developing and building key skills required for GCSE study.

Project 1Project 2
Year 7Impressionism & Beyond:
An introduction to one of the most influential Art movements of the 20th Century, Impressionism.
Through practical tasks, learn about mark making and begin to develop tonal skills.
Learn about Pointillism and sgraffito and produce more personal responses using observational and landscape drawings for inspiration.
Fauvism & Landscape:
Learn about the Art movement Fauvism and how this was born out of Impressionism.
Learn about colour theory and develop painting skills through the production of a colour wheel and other associated painting tasks.
Develop photography skills to create visuals that will develop into oil pastel studies and eventually collage.

Project 1Project 2
Year 8Into Abstraction: An introduction to ‘abstract art’ looking specifically at both Cubism and Futurism, movements that feature in the Post-Impressionist period following on from Fauvism. Learn about portraiture, including an understanding of the proportions of the human face. Develop tonal skills in order to render 3D facial qualities accurately. Develop photography skills and learn how to create abstraction through both collage and Adobe Photoshop techniques.Constructing the Future:
Out of the Post-Impressionist period and the era of abstraction, came art movements such as Suprematism and Constructivism. Learn about architecture within this project underpinned by the ideas of these art movements. Learn about British-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, and use Islamic pattern to inspire design work for a series of constructed products in 3D media and materials.
Project 1Project 2
Year 9Manipulating Reality:: The first project in Yr9 continues to build on the knowledge and skills learned in Yr7 and 8 whilst also providing the first opportunity for students to specialise in one of the various art disciplines. In doing so, this will provide students with the chance to hone their interest and skills on the lead up to the options where they may choose to study art at GCSE level. The ‘Manipulating Reality’ project is centred around the Surrealist movement and students will learn to be playful and experimental with media in order to create designs for a monster that will be part of a children’s book. When students select their discipline, those opting for fine art will then study the work of James DeRosso and produce a ceramic monster vessel. Anyone interested in textiles will look at the work of John Murphy and will create a plush monster toy constructed from their textile experiments with tie dye, batik and appliqué. Finally, students with a desire to develop skills in Graphics will look at book illustrations, the expressive work of Jackson Pollock and the collage work of Mark Hearld before generating their own collage with experimental activities combined with a digital enhancement of this and their monster design.Sweet Tooth:
The final project in KS3 concludes with the Pop Art movement that took place in Britain in the late 1950’s, but most predominantly in America in the 1960’s. Initial further enhancement of students’ drawing skills will then lead to the opportunity for students to select one of the disciplines in order to focus their final development and project outcome. Those working in fine art will either look at the work of Anna Barlow and produce a trompe l’oeil ceramic artefact or instead, further develop their painting skills by being inspired by the work of Wayne Thiebaud. Those who select to study textiles will draw inspiration from Claes Oldenberg’s large-scale soft sculptures, whilst anyone opting to follow the graphics pathway will look at Andy Warhol’s printing processes and learn to produce repeating prints.

GCSE Curriculum Years 10 – 11

The course allows students to explore and develop skills in multiple disciplines within Art and Design. Students can explore Fine Art, Photography, Textile Design and Graphic Communication in their projects. The diverse nature of our curriculum at GCSE has been developed to support the individual needs of our students, allowing them to specialise in an area of particular interest and strength.

Fine Art is defined “as the need to explore an idea, convey an experience or respond to a theme or issue of personal significance.” It includes; drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and mixed media.

Photography is defined “as the practice of producing images using light-sensitive materials such as photographic film, or digital methods of development and production to create static or moving images.” It can include; portraiture, location photography, studio photography, experimental imagery, documentary photography, photo-journalism, moving image: film, video and animation.

Textile Design is defined “as the creation of designs and products for woven, knitted, stitched, printed or decorative textiles that might have a functional or non-functional purpose.” It can include; art textiles, fashion design and illustration, costume design, constructed textiles, printed and dyed textiles, surface pattern, stitched and/or embellished textiles, textiles for interiors, digital textiles and installed textiles.

Graphic Communication is defined “as the process of designing primarily visual material to convey information, ideas, meaning and emotions in response to a brief” and includes communication graphics, design for print, advertising and branding, illustration, typography, and animation.

Year 10 projects are designed to assist in the developing of students’ practical skills, building on what they have learned in Yr7, 8 and 9, and providing the opportunities to work with a wide range of media, materials and using a variety of processes and techniques. Students choose to explore the 1 of the following discipline areas following different schemes of work: ‘Our world is transforming’ (Fine Art), ‘Our world is evolving’ (Graphic Communication), ‘Our world in colour’ (Photography) and ‘Our world under the microscope’ (Textile Design).

Following this introductory project of their chosen discipline area, students the develop their skills and ideas further in the second project in Yr10/11 (Fine Art; Expression, Photography; Collection, Graphic Communication; Evolution, Textile Design; Construction). Within the Yr10/11 project, students begin to apply their developing skills and learn how to construct an extended investigation leading to personal outcomes in a project devised specifically for their chosen specialist area. Year 11 is split into two parts; in the first half students will complete the extended project started in Year 10) and then at the start of January they will embark upon the preparation for their final Externally Set Assignment (exam).

A-Level Curriculum

Visual Arts is a popular subject for students wishing to further develop, enhance and explore their art and design skills at a more advanced level. The four discipline areas offered at GCSE are also on offer at A-level and they are run alongside one another which makes for an interesting mix of students, projects and activities taking place in lesson time. There are a range of teaching methods employed from workshop sessions, peer-assessment and group critiques, lectures, individualised practical sessions and one-to-one tutorials. Students will gain a full breadth of knowledge, skills and understanding in their chosen specialist field, which will enable them to execute high quality personally developed outcomes. The course begins with a diagnostic period for students to consolidate some of their GCSE skills whilst also learning the requirements and expectations of A-level study. Time will be spent learning how to write analysis to a deeper level of insight, which will benefit the writing of the extended essay. In addition, students will also receive a one-hour Art in Context lesson each fortnight to learn about the history of Art and how to analyse it. Lessons in the Visual Arts studios are always relaxed and enjoyable with strong teacher-student rapport.

Students are also welcome to use the studio spaces, equipment, tools and materials in their own free time and study periods.

The Enriched Curriculum

Our commitment to whole-school intent is underpinned by a range of extra-curricular opportunities across Years 7 to 13. The Visual Arts studios are always open at lunchtime and after-school for students to come and extend their skill set, or to simply get on with their project/coursework. A wide range of Art clubs, which have included textile/craft, graphic design, ceramics and photography, have been on offer in previous years and continue to be very popular.


Trips and visits organised and led by the Visual Arts department provide a great way to develop our students’ Cultural Capital. Year 7 students have the opportunity to go to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to learn about various artists, analyse work and study sculptures through drawing. Year 9 students visit Liverpool Tate gallery to expand their knowledge of Art, while Yr12 students have been fortunate enough in the past to experience a trip to Berlin to visit several historic and contemporary Art, Design and Photography galleries.


Pastoral care and individualised support are real strengths of the Visual Arts department. Differentiated resources and tasks are commonplace across the curriculum providing effective scaffolding to support individual needs. This is coupled with lots of regular feedback and personalised tuition which enables students to make gradual progress and ultimately achieve to their full potential.

7 Year Curriculum Plan(s)

Click on an image to see the document full size