What do we study in Art at Ridgeway?

Why do we study Art? 

Ridgeway’s Creative Department provides an Art and Design curriculum that engages, inspires and excites our students, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to participate in, experiment with, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. Students will be empowered to think creatively and critically. They will investigate and evaluate a wide range of creative outcomes from history and to the present day to develop a rigorous understanding of the many disciplines within art, craft and design and how they have shaped our history and will shape our future. A strong art education can give young people an appreciation of why art matters, where it comes from, and where it fits in a wider social, historical and political context. It, therefore, becomes an essential part of the Ridgeway 360° in developing the whole child and preparing them for their next steps as successful young people. 

As well as being an enjoyable and pleasurable subject to study, art provides students with an understanding of the world, and themselves, by looking at what’s been expressed by others before them. Art and design fosters creativity, imagination and confidence: skills that are transferable to every other subject on the school curriculum, and critically, are indispensable in a wide array of jobs. Art and design has a central role in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, encouraging innovation, analysis and evaluation – skills that are undoubtedly valuable in school, and well beyond into the workplace. Emerging into adulthood equipped with the ability to innovate, invent, adapt, and grow, key skills that will aid them in any walk of life. The availability of the arts to all provides an outlet for healthy expression of thoughts, feelings, and opinions. This should be something that every child has access to. It allows a person to explore the world through different lenses, promoting abstract thought and problem solving. 

Art programme of study at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) 

Our Key Stage 3 programme aims to give all pupils a balanced and structured scheme of art and design, developed in association with the national curriculum. Students’ interest and enjoyment of the subject will be encouraged, while fundamental skills are taught and developed such as resilience, perseverance, confidence and creativity . We aim to increase knowledge and understanding of art and design within a students own work, and that of others. Our belief is that students should be encouraged to develop their creativity and individuality through their work, and value what they achieve. We aim to give students the opportunity to fulfil their full potential in art and design. 

Projects all begin with Observational DRAWINGS, alongside the RESEARCHING of work by artists and designers, learning to analyse work and use this to inform their ideas (UNDERSTANDING). They then learn and EXPERIMENT with a range of techniques and media and use this to develop creative DESIGN IDEAS (PREPARATION). All projects culminate in a FINAL OUTCOME (PRODUCT). 

Art programme of study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11) 

Students begin more in-depth studying for their GCSE in Fine Art in Year 10. This enables students to build on the knowledge and skills they developed at KS3. Students will revisit techniques, materials and processes in order to master them, while also being introduced to new materials such as acrylic paint, printmaking and textiles. At Ridgeway, we follow the AQA Art and Design specification. The coursework portfolio is made up of a selection of the work students complete throughout the 2 extended projects over the course of Year 10 & 11, while the external exam unit is based around students’ individual responses to a set exam paper released in the January of Year 11 and culminates in a 10-hour practical exam. 

Students will: 

  • Develop their ideas through investigations informed by selecting and critically analysing sources
  • Apply an understanding of relevant practices in the creative and cultural industries to their work
  • Refine their ideas as work progresses through experimenting with media, materials, techniques and processes
  • Record their ideas, observations, insights and independent judgements, visually and through written annotation, using appropriate specialist vocabulary, as work progresses
  • Use visual language critically as appropriate to their own creative intentions and chosen area(s) of study through effective and safe use of: media, materials, techniques, processes, technologies, use drawing skills for different needs and purposes, appropriate to the context

Homework expectations 

Homework is an important aspect of our curriculum. Not only does it offer the opportunity for students to consolidate their learning within lessons, it also offers a chance for them to develop and master the skills and techniques taught in the classroom. Key Stage 3 students will be set one piece of homework every two weeks. This could include a practical activity or artist research. Some homework will be a part of an assessment. Key Stage 4 students are also given one piece of homework every two weeks. This will include completing art for their coursework. 

How can parents and guardians support at home? 

As well as monitoring homework and encouraging students to attend any additional intervention and extra-curricular sessions on offer, there are a range of ways in which parents and guardians can help to support their child with developing their Art & Design skills. 

In order for students to achieve their full potential in Art & Design, it is important that they practise the skills and techniques they are introduced to in lessons in their own time. Therefore, having a quiet space at home and some basic equipment such as drawing pencils, watercolours, pencil crayons etc is a huge advantage for students studying Art & Design. As 60% of students’ final Art grade at GCSE is based on coursework, there is an expectation for students to be working on their coursework in between lessons at home. If you are not seeing your child completing any artwork at home, please quiz them about this. 

If a suitable space or equipment is not available for students to work at home, for any reason, then students are very welcome to come and access the facilities and equipment in school during lunchtime and after school. Please email [email protected] for details. 

Parents and guardians can also support students by encouraging them to experience Art and Design first hand by providing opportunities for students to visit many of the galleries locally and nationally. The majority of these are free to the public and if a face-to-face visit is not possible, often galleries provide access to their collection online through virtual tours. 

Extra-curricular opportunities 

We pride ourselves on providing a range of excellent opportunities in and outside of the classroom. As well as helping to consolidate students’ understanding of the artists and designers studies in the classroom, these experiences help to foster a love of Art & Design and an understanding of the opportunities the industry has to offer. Across the academic year, such opportunities include: 

  • Weekly lunchtime & after school GCSE Art Intervention sessions
  • Gallery Visits, local and
  • KS3 After school Art Clubs
  • Art & Design workshops from teacher, external artists and companies.