Short of curriculum time for Art and design?

Finding the time for Art and design


Curriculum time is at a premium and trying to achieve a broad and balanced curriculum experience can be daunting.

But there are ways in which you can still deliver high quality teaching and learning within a squeezed timetable.

The aim of any Art and design curriculum should be looking at covering these five important areas: 

  • Making: painting, drawing, printing, creating 2 & 3D art and crafting
  • Generating ideas and taking inspiration from a range of artists and craftspeople
  • Formal elements: colour, form, line, pattern, shape, texture and tone
  • Knowledge of artists’ work and techniques
  • Evaluating: critiquing their own work and that of others

You want to be teaching skills and techniques combined with a creative interpretation of those skills. You should always be integrating artists’ work and building some time in to discuss and evaluate what they have done. 

When teaching a new skill, take time to embed it and apply it in different situations and at different times. Pupils cannot be expected to learn how to shade if they’ve only done it once or twice in year 2 then once in year 3. Skills take time and practise if they are to be learned, so if time is tight focus on doing a few things well, and by that I mean imaginatively and creatively, not just repeating and drilling a few realistic drawing skills. Drawing is so diverse it might form the focus of a curriculum that is short on time, but if you do it, get children drawing in new and unique ways, exploring abstract drawing, technical drawing, drawing on surfaces and on different scales. 

When I taught art on a carousel, I only saw the children for one term every year and then I had a two hour lesson. So you need to ensure children are getting key art skills at the right time and that they are progressing as best as they can in this time. You will never get it perfect, but you don’t need to, this isn’t a core subject like maths where every competency needs to be ticked, it is flexible, open and more forgiving. Children will make progress in art from EYFS because they are growing and their dexterity will improve regardless of what you do. What you need to ensure with them is that the knowledge and skills you teach are fully embedded and can be recalled easily and our knowledge organisers will help with this. 

You are likely to have 12 or 13 one or two hour lessons per term which makes around 12 to 24 hours of art per term. There is a huge difference in the art you can get done in a two hour lesson compared to a one hour, because of the time it takes to get set up and packed away and the time it takes to get going. But you wouldn’t usually do twice as much work or two different lessons in a two hour lesson, you’d just do the same activity to a greater depth. 

Kapow Primary’s lessons provide an excellent range of art activities from which to select. They are properly sequenced and expertly designed to give your pupils a broad range of activities, incorporate imagination and inquiry and are linked to high quality artist links and resources. Expert, robust guidance in progression, assessment and knowledge are provided and you are free to select from these in confidence. 

Have a look at our combined long-term plan for Art and design and Design and technology where we have identified which art lessons to teach if you only teach art in three half-terms.

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Written by:
Paul Carney

Paul has 22 years experience of teaching art as a specialist subject in both Primary and Secondary schools. He is a council member with the National Society for Education and his expertise has led him to deliver CPD for leading training providers, schools, colleges and universities across the UK. He also runs a highly successful art website: paulcarneyarts.com that provides advice to teachers around the world. His first book Drawing for Science, Invention and Discovery was released in 2018.


Paul has created content including free lessons on the Great Fire of London and Monet’s Impressionism. He has created many other art and craft demo lessons for Kapow Primary in Art & Design.