Art, craft and design at Thaxted Primary School is a creative and fulfilling journey for both pupils and staff.
In the Foundation Stage, children are encouraged to be inquisitive about the world around them, to use their senses as they explore experiment and take risks within a safe and stimulating environment. Children experience a range of media, tools and techniques to create art and craft. They learn skills in the following areas: drawing, design, painting, printmaking, sculpture, craft, and textiles, multimedia and digital. Following on from early experiences in mark making, the children use their fingers, sponges, rollers, brushes of different sizes and a range of tools as starting points for their own designs and interpretations. They are encouraged to observe and look at other artists, craft people and designers. They explore colour, line, texture and pattern to achieve different effects, e.g. creating prints from bubbles of paint, wax rubbings or marbling with different colours. The focus continues in the direction of the child’s interpretation and how this might evolve. Language and vocabulary are integral to this exploration.
In Key Stage 1, the children continue their journey and develop further their skills in drawing, painting sculpture, etc. continuing to use a range of media and working to different scales. Teachers follow a three year cycle to ensure that children cover a range of themes, but the key skills are included each year to ensure progression. The children learn how to achieve different effects by looking at the styles of a range of artists through history and within the local context and to experiment for themselves. The children’s work is celebrated in classrooms and corridors around the school. They extend their knowledge of line, colour, pattern, texture and shading techniques and apply this in a range of activities, which are often linked with other subjects. For example, when learning about shape in maths, links have been made with Kandinsky’s circles or Mondrian’s geometric shapes. The children use clay to make their own pots, tiles and sculptures these are fired in the school kiln.
By the time the children start KS2, they have acquired a range of skills and techniques and are fuelled with imagination and creativity to continue their journey. Teachers follow a four year cycle to ensure that children cover a range of themes, but as in KS1, the key skills are included each year to ensure progression. The children are encouraged to use art, craft and design as a means to express themselves. Combined with the 6Rs the children continue to explore, discover, experiment, speculate and question the world around them. They study how art and design can be a tool to entertain, to persuade, to calm, to teach about history, religion and culture and to philosophise. For example, in Year 6 children learned about the propaganda posters used in WW1 and in the lower juniors the children learned about fashion in the Tudor period. In Key Stage 2, sketchbooks are introduced as a means for children to record observations, develop ideas and experiment with drawing media. The children explore and consider further ways of interpreting subject matter and ideas and they might compare artists and the way artists approach different ideas. For example, Year 5 experimented with drawing portraits. They experimented with pencil cross-hatching and shading techniques. They used charcoal and pastels to experiment with colour and tone. After this, they used textiles to create a sculpture of a head. Another Year 5 class used a combination of digital art and an artist study of Andy Warhol to think differently and create their own portraits.
Every opportunity is taken to display art work and involve the local community. Each year the children contribute to the Thaxted Garden and Craft Show. We are involved in the DEEP arts consortium with local schools, where teachers with specialisms can share their skills with each other and their schools. As part of a local community project, the children made Forget-me-knots, as part of Dementia Awareness week, which were displayed in shop windows in Thaxted. Last summer we had an art exhibition on parents’ evening and parents could buy framed artwork designed by their child. Local artists are always welcome to come into school to share their art, craft and designs. In the past we have welcomed Annabel Fernall, who has introduced felt making and needle felting; Korky Paul, who has inspired us with his illustrations; and our own in house illustrator, Jo Legge, who uses pointillism in her art to create a range of pieces. Many of our staff are keen artists and are always willing to learn and have a go.