How To Ace Your Subject Leader Role In Art and design

Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) makes it clear it is time to value the broader curriculum again. Judgement is no longer skewed towards English and Maths. Inspectors also want to see a school that embraces sports, computing, humanities and the arts. This is excellent news for Art and design subject leaders; because we know our subject fosters the creativity and innovation needed to prepare children for an ever-evolving world. 

Subject leaders in Art and design should be equipped with excellent subject knowledge, a solid understanding of how the curriculum progresses and best teaching practices and, above all, an abundance of passion!

The EIF is a must-read for any subject leader. To summarise the key messages: 

  • Leaders should provide an ambitious curriculum accessible to all learners. 
  • The curriculum must develop cumulatively sequenced knowledge and skills. 
  • Subject leaders must communicate their long- and medium-term planning and provide the rationale for content choices and sequencing. 
  • Teachers must exhibit good knowledge of the subjects they teach, with subject leaders providing support where necessary.  
  • Teachers and leaders must make effective use of assessment. 
  • Resources and materials for lessons should not create an unnecessary workload for staff but must reflect the school’s intentions for the programme of study. 

With Ofsted’s deep dive approach in full swing, an inspection can be a daunting prospect for even the most experienced subject leader. It can be difficult to know where to start. Kapow Primary offers a wide range of supporting resources, including advice on the intent, implementation, and impact of the Kapow Primary Art and design curriculum and on preparing for a deep dive in the subject. 

Try using the aptly-named acronym ART (analyse, revise and track) to structure your thinking. 

It is a subject leader’s job to analyse current provisions, plan what should be taught and when, and respond to the impact of their curriculum on pupils’ learning and progress. Consider the following: 

Are you happy with your curriculum coverage? The national curriculum for Art and design aims to ensure pupils can explore and record their ideas, become proficient in key skills (e.g. drawing, painting and sculpture), confidently evaluate artists’ work and develop a rich understanding of a range of artists and designers. These core aims must be embedded throughout your curriculum and are the four key strands that link all learning in the Kapow Art and design scheme.

Does your curriculum show progression? The national curriculum stipulates broad objectives for each key stage. To ensure progression, you will need to break these down into a clear framework that ensures pupils build on previous skills and knowledge while keeping a clear vision of the ‘end points’ you want children to achieve. The Kapow Primary Art and design pupil progression document offers a great starting point for this vision in your school.

Are teachers confident with teaching Art and design? What CPD is in place for them? Art and design is a specialist subject, and many teachers may not have received any CPD since their initial teacher training. Talk to staff about where they feel confident and any areas where they would like more support. Kapow Primary teacher videos support CPD in lessons throughout the scheme, offering tips and modelling skills.

Are pupils progressing and attaining in Art and design? How are you measuring and evidencing this? Measuring attainment in Art and design can be tricky, so teachers will likely need support in this area. You could consider putting together a portfolio of age-expected pieces for each year group to aid teachers in their judgements. The Kapow Primary assessment statements for Art and design provide support in this area.

It is unlikely you will need a complete revision of your curriculum. However, this may feel tempting when you’re overflowing with ideas. Remember: small, considered steps are much more effective than complete overhauls and will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run. Play to teachers’ strengths by finding out what passions they have. Perhaps you have an avid knitter, a budding photographer or someone who adores pottery within your staff? If so, draw on these strengths and build these skills and talents into your curriculum. 

After considering these questions, you can prioritise your next steps according to which curriculum areas need the most attention and record this in an action plan. This should state your key aims for Art and design, showing success criteria, deadlines and budget. 

Make sure you track the outcomes of everything you have put in place. Both in terms of curriculum updates and, crucially, their impact on pupils’ progress and attainment. Speak regularly to teachers and pupils about the subject, and use this to feedback into the ‘analyse’ stage. By continually tracking what is going on in your subject, you will ensure a deep, informed insight into Art and design across the school and always be inspection-ready.

With teacher well-being and mental health a top priority, it is refreshing and welcome to see Ofsted encourage the use of published curriculums. Kapow Primary’s Art and design Pupil Progression is a fantastic starting point for subject leaders to ensure a well-constructed, sequenced curriculum where essential skills are revisited and embedded. Subject leaders can use and adapt our Art and design long-term plan, providing complete coverage of the national curriculum requirements. The Kapow Primary subject leader toolkit contains a range of materials to support you in your role, including policy prompts, a deep-dive case study and a presentation suitable for staff meetings.   With more than 130 fully resourced and adaptable lesson plans and over 100 teacher videos, you will feel fully confident teaching Art and design in no time.   

Art and design is a wonderful subject to lead. A key mantra for staff and pupils alike is ‘anyone can draw, anyone can do art.’ With this attitude, you will be well on your way to developing an outstanding curriculum that teachers love to teach and pupils love to engage in. And to help you create a solid framework: Kapow Primary is just a click away!

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Written by:
Francesca Paul