Everything You Need To Know About Assessment In Art And Design

Published 15 September 2021 by Kapow Primary

It’s important to assess Art and design skills and knowledge as they provide valuable insight into each child’s progress and areas of improvement, but it can be tricky. Continue reading to learn why assessing art is important, how it works, and the benefits of peer reviewing. 

We will also explore how Kapow Primary uses assessment in Art and design to provide a comprehensive approach to developing and assessing pupils’ artistic skills. By the end of this blog, you will better understand how assessment plays a crucial role in teaching and learning art.


Why do we assess in Primary Art and design?

There are a few reasons. Assessment:

  • of pupils’ progress helps you understand how they are developing in the subject and allows you to plan how to help them grow in the future
  • allows you to report information to parents/carers
  • supports your future targets and measures your school’s progress.


Many art teachers find the notion of assessing children’s work difficult. In 2013, the Department for Education removed levels and archived the exemplification of standards that were being developed as an online tool. This means that there are no national standards for the subject. Your own approach will probably have to align with your school policy and with how you use Assessment for Learning (AFL). 

Since 2013, schools have needed to use their own approaches to formative assessment, to support pupil attainment and progression, and the assessment framework should be built into the whole school curriculum. Ofsted’s inspections are informed by whatever pupil-tracking data schools keep.

There are two main types of assessment, and each takes place at different points in the learning process.

  • Formative takes place both before and during the learning process.
  • Summative takes place at the end of key segments in a learning cycle or at the end of an art project.


How does assessment in Art and design work?

Formative assessment in art occurs throughout the learning process, through dialogue and conversation. Because we value pupils’ creative and individual responses in the subject, we should give open-ended feedback and use effective questioning techniques. 

Kapow Primary’s Art and design scheme is built around the following assessment areas:

  • Generating ideas
  • Using sketchbooks
  • Making skills (including formal elements)
  • Knowledge of artists
  • Evaluating and analysing.



What about peer review in Art and design?

Another useful assessment method in the subject is self- and peer-review, which builds on the long tradition of the ‘crit’ or ‘critique’ prevalent in the wider world of art education. If pupils know objectives and success criteria, then they will be able to do this successfully. 

It is likely to be mainly oral with younger children, but as they progress through school, written annotations will support this. If, while teaching, you constantly use vocabulary and language linked to a particular project, the children’s knowledge will increase.

Social constructivist theory (Vygotsky, 1978) supports peer assessment because children observe and apply skills they learn from each other. In self-assessment, individuals or groups need to reflect on their own work to identify strengths as well as areas that need improvement, and this ‘ownership’ increases motivation. 

In both peer assessment and self-assessment, you, as a teacher, will provide both language and structure, but will allow your pupils to develop their own ideas about improving and developing their work.


Assessment in Kapow Primary’s Art and design curriculum

Kapow Primary has Art and design assessment materials and quizzes for each unit which can help you with summative assessment. You can view an example of these for the Year 1 Drawing unit assessment here, as well as knowledge catchers and pupil answer sheets.

Art is not the same as other subjects. It does not always have a clear linear path, because we need to value creativity and individuality. Progress can be demonstrated strongly through the use of sketchbooks in primary schools to record ideas, reflections, critical analysis of artists, and development of technical skills. Each child is unique, and each sketchbook should be unique, enabling pupils to develop their independence and creativity. Pick up a book, flick through it, and you will see ideas developing, skills improving, knowledge being recorded, and critical thinking about artworks and the purpose of a project.



A final piece of advice is to find some time during the school year to share samples of artwork (books and final outcomes) and arrange in groups, which might, for example, show art that is working towards, working at, and working beyond (or whatever system your school uses). Photograph them and add to the shared drive with relevant comments. You can produce your own exemplification of standards, from within your own cohort, which all staff can refer to. Kapow Primary lesson plans include these descriptors:

  • Pupils with secure understanding
  • Pupils need extra support
  • Pupils work at greater depth.


The Kapow Primary assessment guidance materials are highly recommended because they have been developed from robust research and pedagogy knowledge.


Recommended reading about Art and design assessment

  • Teaching Primary Art and Design: Emily Gopaul
  • Teaching Primary Art and Design: Susan Ogier
  • Art in the Primary School: Creating Art in the Real and Digital World: Jean Edwards (Author), Helen Caldwell (Author), Rebecca Heaton (Author)
  • Mastering Primary Art and Design: Pet