I found I could say things with colour and shapes

that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for”

Georgia O’Keefe

At Greenbank we firmly believe that a robust education in the visual arts is essential to prepare students for a future where the creative industries go from strength to strength.  Students at Greenbank are exposed to a wide range of creative practices and disciplines thus ensuring their abilities to investigate, ideate and create are as broad and far reaching as possible.

The excellent art and design education delivered at Greenbank enables our students to think and practise as young artists. They are encouraged to enquire, experiment, invent and create artwork that is particular to them. Pupils are challenged to pursue lines of enquiry within their work and to think critically thus developing their confidence to express thoughts, ideas and opinions when contextualising their work.

This serves to not only advance the practical skills and disciplines possessed by our students but to also create a rigorous understanding of art and design. Students are made aware of how art and design has shaped our history and culture and continues to influence modern society.

There is an almost endless array of practices and disciplines in Art and Design. From drawing and painting to printing, or ceramics and sculpture to digital art the goal of the Art & Design curriculum is to ensure our students are exposed to as wide a range of media, techniques, movements and artists as possible. This enables students to recognise their strengths and interests, to explore and experiment and discover their own potential as they create.

While the curriculum delivered is structured and prescriptive in terms of content, Students work with a great deal of autonomy. Independent choices are a continual theme of every lesson. Whether it be through choice of subject matter, media, materials or influences, students are encouraged to make each piece of work their own. Indeed every project studied requires all students to work independently, forging their own path as they progress.


Curriculum organisation

KS3 Students receive two lessons per fortnight. All groups at both KS3 and KS4 are mixed ability.

Mixed ability groups enable students of all artistic abilities to engage with the curriculum. Schemes of learning are differentiated both by resource and outcome. Students are able to engage with source materials suited to their own abilities, skill sets and most importantly tastes and interests ensuring all are able to produce individual outcomes unique to them.



In year 7, pupils start the course with a baseline assessment. Year 7 pupils study art at primary within the context of topic work or art weeks. The baseline test gives staff a clear starting point for a pupil as their target grades are linked to SATs and have no bearing on a child’s ability to draw or an insight into their creative capabilities.

Students are marked according to four assessment objectives (M)aking, (I)deas, (K)nowledge, (E)valuation. These were assessment strands were developed in consultation with other art and design subject leaders from across Sefton using guidance provided by NSEAD.

Learning across Year 7 takes place as follows:

Autumn Term – Key Skills

  • Baseline Test:  A basic drawing exercise that demonstrates each pupil’s individual artistic skill. (Making/Knowledge)
  • Tonal Drawing: An exercise that develops pupil’s abilities to apply pencil tone and shade to their drawings. These skills are then demonstrated in a self-portrait drawing. (Making/knowledge)
  • Colour Theory: Pupils develop their understanding of the properties of colour by painting a colour wheel.  Knowledge of colour theory is then applied in the creation of a painted piece. (Making/knowledge/ideas)
  • Mark Making: Pupils will create a range of marks using pen and ink. These skills are then applied to a pen drawing exploring the theme of    ‘texture’. (Making/knowledge/ideas)

This learning take place in the form of discrete ‘workshop’ style lessons rather than a sustained scheme of learning. The aim is to develop pupil’s proficiency in core skills essential to their art and design education through years 7, 8 and beyond. Indeed these requirements are highlighted as essential criteria by the DFE:

“Pupils should be taught:

  • to use a range of techniques and media, including painting
  • to increase their proficiency in the handling of different materials”

Spring/Summer Term – Gothic Architecture & Antoni Gaudi

  • Gothic Architecture Zentangle: Pupils create individual zentangle compositions based on the patterns, shapes and detailing found in gothic architecture. (Making/knowledge/ideas)
  • Gothic Architecture Research: Pupils develop their understanding of the principle of gothic architecture as well as their knowledge of their local built environment. Skills in the visual presentation of information are developed through the production of a visual information page. (Making/knowledge/ideas)
  • Gaudi Studies: Pupils skills in mixed media are developed through the production of a detailed studies of the buildings of Antoni Gaudi. Understanding of the principles of his work is demonstrated through annotation. (Making/knowledge/ideas)
  • Tower Designs:  design skills are developed as pupils produce a series of low relief tower designs inspired by Gothic architecture and Antoni Gaudi… (Making/knowledge/ideas)
  • Low Relief Tower: Pupils use collage and decoupage techniques to create a low relief tower inspired by gothic architecture and the work of Antoni Gaudi. (Making/knowledge/ideas)

This is the first sustained project that pupils will produce and as such it fulfils all of the assessment objectives. It is designed to allow pupils the experience of producing a fully realised body of work from initial research and conception through a sustained design process, contextual study and realisation of outcomes. This approach foreshadows the structure of learning at KS4 and responds in more depth to DFE requirements:

“Pupils should be taught to develop their creativity and ideas, and increase proficiency in their execution. They should develop a critical understanding of artists, architects, and designers, expressing reasoned judgments that can inform their own work.

Pupils should be taught:

  • to use a range of techniques to record their observations in sketchbooks, journals and other media as a basis for exploring their ideas
  • to use a range of techniques and media, including painting
  • to increase their proficiency in the handling of different materials
  • to analyze and evaluate their own work, and that of others, in order to strengthen the visual impact or applications of their work
  • about the history of art, craft, design and architecture, including periods, styles and major movements from ancient times up to the present day”

The focus of learning in year 8 is the consolidation and progression of skills gained in year 7. Pupils will now be required to produce two full projects with an increased focus on challenge. For example, card and paper sculpture is replaced by more complex ceramic construction. In addition pupils are introduced to the art and traditions of non-western cultures. Once again a baseline test is used to gauge pupil’s prior learning. Whereas in year 7 pupils produced on observational tonal drawing from a secondary source pupils are now producing a colour drawing from a primary still life arrangement, again highlighting the increasing level of challenge.

Learning across Year 8 takes place as follows:

Autumn/Spring Term – Cakes and Sweets 

  • Baseline Test: A still life drawing exercise that demonstrates each pupils individual artistic skill. (Making/Knowledge)
  • Cakes and Sweets Composition:  A mixed media piece that develops pupils observational drawing skills. Pupils demonstrate skills in observational drawing, colour, water colour painting and collage.  (Making/ideas/knowledge)
  • Visual Research Sheet: Pupils will develop their abilities to creatively present information and express thoughts and ideas about relevant artists and disciplines. Skills in typography and layout will be developed. (Making/ideas/knowledge)
  • Ceramic Cake Design: Pupils will develop skills in the design process by producing a series of thumbnail designs for a ceramic final piece inspired by their development work. Pupils will be able to evaluate and annotate their work before choosing one to develop into a final design. (Making/ideas/knowledge/evaluation)
  • Ceramic Cake: Pupils will develop their skills in three dimensional clay sculpture in the production of a ceramic cake of sweet based on their chosen design.

Spring/Summer Term – African Patterns  

  • African Patterns Still Life – A painted still life exploring traditional African Kente and Ankara fabrics 
  • Yinka Shonibare Research – A visual research sheet exploring the work of the artist Yinka Shonibare 
  • Reduction Tile Print – An exploration of African patterns through reduction tile printing. Redundant prints will be used for a ‘African & Western’ collage. 
  • Batik Book cover – A PVA batik book cover to be displayed in the school library. Inspired by the installations of Shonibare this will be an African patterned cover designed to fit inside existing book covers.   

The two sustained projects produced in year 8 consolidate and expand on the learning that takes place in year 7. Once again fulfilling the four assessment criteria, pupils learning is now informed by both DFE guidelines as well more detailed guidance provided by NSEAD.

Pupils should be taught:

  • to create sketch books and methods of recording to generate, develop, research and record their observations and use them to review and revisit ideas
  • Imagine/Ideate – Idea generation (key to innovation and creative development)
  • ceramics to develop functional, craft, sculptural or decorative outcomes – using clay techniques of coil, slab, pinch, press mold and slip-casting, wheel thrown ceramics, or hand-built products before firing and dip or painted glazing;
  • developing research skills, reading, selecting, collecting, assembling, cutting, tearing, sticking, layering and collaging to create work informed by a variety of found and created resources, from other sources, artists, craftspeople and designers, other times and cultures
  • developing and using creative, critical and technical languages such as listening, speaking, reading and writing, enabling pupils to interact with others as they develop more sophisticated concepts and clearly express their personal understanding, intentions and ideas
  • to learn about the art, craft and design of different periods and cultures, understanding something of the development of the work, the context of the artists, as well as the historical/ political/ spiritual/ cultural/ social/ moral/ environmental context/s in which the work/s was, were or are created”

At KS4 students have the options of specialising in one of three Art and Design Courses offered. By choosing Fine Art, Photography or Graphic Communication students are able to focus on their own specific skill sets and interests.

All of these courses are part of the AQA Art and Design specification. All students studying these courses must submit two components for assessment consisting of a portfolio component and an externally set assignment.  All courses are assessed and moderated according to the same mark scheme.

Portfolio Component:

The portfolio component consists of:

  1. A sustained project developed in response to a subject, theme, task or brief evidencing the journey from initial engagement with an idea(s) to the realisation of intentions. This will give students the opportunity to demonstrate, through an extended creative response, their ability to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across their course of study.

Fine Art: ‘Being Human’, ‘Personal Project’

Photography: ‘The Distorted Face’, ‘Personal Project’

Graphic Communication: ‘Individual Brief Led Project’

  1. A selection of further work resulting from activities such as trials and experiments; skills based workshops; mini and/or foundation projects; responses to gallery, museum or site visits; work placements; independent study and evidence of the student’s specific role in any group work undertaken. 


Fine Art: ‘Natural vs Man Made’

Photography: ‘Photo Safari’ ‘Architecture (inc. Composition & Formal Elements)’

Graphic Communication: ‘Skills Workshops’

Graphic Communication: ‘Skills Workshops’

AQA will provide a separate externally set assignment for each title, each with seven different starting points. Students must select and respond to one starting point from their chosen title.

Students must ensure that the total submission for Component 2 evidences coverage of all four assessment objectives

A preparation period which can begin on or after 2 January is followed by 10 hours of supervised unaided work in which students are required to realise their intentions. Students must not undertake any further preparatory studies once the first period of supervised time starts.

These requirements are identical for all three components. The themes of the exam questions vary year on year and pupils are free to choose their own starting points.


From Year 7 students are encouraged to foster a love of the subject through engagement with Schemes of Learning that – while prescriptive in terms of content- allow them to explore and investigate, recognise their own strengths and realise their own intentions. This ethos is carried through to the end of Year 11, by which point students are producing highly personal art work that responds to their own strengths and interests.


The AQA GCSE Art and Design specification requires a written element be present in both portfolio and externally set components. In anticipation of this, literacy skills permeate the KS3 curriculum. Students are required to learn subject specific terminologies, key words and expressions. Reading is a critical element of any contextual research, requiring students to investigate artists and movements to inform their work. Once information has been sourced students are required to read with a discriminating eye, selecting only information pertinent to their research. Writing is used to document ideas, concepts and intentions as well as show critical and contextual understanding of relevant artists and movements. Students are encouraged to verbally express their thoughts, ideas and understanding using appropriate vocabulary. This is then carried through into GCSE and incorporated into students work as per AQA requirements. Writing may take the form of extended prose, bullet points, annotations, thought showers or key words to be specification compliant.


To complement their art and design education students are given the opportunity to engage with the creative arts sector. Entries into regional competitions have resulted in students work being included in the Sefton Open Exhibition as well as having work featured in exhibitions in prestigious venues including the Walker Gallery, St. George’s Hall, The Atkinson and LJMU.  Photography work has received commendations from the Southport Rotary Club. This gives students the opportunity to experience having work on public display and provides an early insight into the importance of the role of competitions and prize winning in becoming a successful, practising artist.

Curriculum based visits are playing an increasing role in students learning experiences throughout both of the key stages. A visit to Tatton Park in Cheshire allows students who have chosen and Art and Design Course the opportunity to gather first hand source material for their first GCSE project. The sketches and photographs gathered by students here inspiring their first body of coursework. Here, students gain first-hand experience of both architectural and natural forms as well as being able to observe a renowned collection of Fine and Decorative arts in the setting for which they were intended.

Visits to colleges are used not only to provide students with a valuable learning experience but also to allow them to understand what an art and design education beyond GCSE entails. Portrait photoshoots using the facilities of Southport College have proven extremely beneficial in not only enabling GCSE photography students to produce high quality photographs but also allows them to gain experience of working in a fully functional, professional photography studio. Here they are able to use equipment, cameras and lighting etc. not available in school as well as receiving a glimpse of further education in the subject.

Similarly students are able to take advantage of taster days and workshop sessions offered by a range of colleges, again gaining experience of how the subject is taught in further education institutions.

Maintaining a visible presence of the subject throughout the school is of importance and students can expect to have their work showcased on the many display boards around their school, developing in students a sense of pride and confidence in their work. They also have the opportunity to take part in collaborative projects such as the WWI centenary display of ceramic poppies or working with a visiting artist to produce large scale murals. Working in a manner such as this gives students an opportunity to produce artwork not usually possible within the constraints of the classroom.

Year 11 culminates in a final GCSE Exhibition. This allows students to celebrate their achievements over the course of the last three years and have their work on display for public viewing. It also has the benefit of allowing AQA moderators to see their work as it should be in exhibition format.

It is important that no student should feel unable to access the curriculum or have their learning inhibited. The projects designed across all key stages are flexible and allow for adaptation depending on students individual needs. Art packs are available to all disadvantaged students to ensure there are no barriers to learnings while the use of strategies such as targeted questioning and premium seating requires all students to engage with the learning taking place.



The personal development curriculum embraces the strands of Citizenship, Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE), Careers Education and Guidance (CEAG) and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) educational policies. In Art and Design the personal development of pupils is supported by the continual requirement of students to think independently and creatively, to express their own thoughts, ideas and opinions and to reflect and critique their progress.

Art and Design can be responsible for the development of many interpersonal and transferable skills and characteristics sought by further education providers and employers:

  • Confidence and Resilience – experimenting with new materials and processes, working with mistakes, resolving and embracing unexpected outcomes within their work.
  • Communication and Expression – Visual communication and the expression of thoughts, ideas and concepts through artistic disciplines.
  • Dexterity and Motor Control – Fine motor skills, perception and special awareness developed through drawing and other processes.
  • Creative Thinking – producing creative outcomes, expressing concepts through visual processes.
  • Independence and Self Discipline – working to deadlines, making own decision and pursuing individual lines of enquiry
  • Evaluation and Critique – critiquing own and others work, making decisions on how to progress and improve work based on commentary. Selecting relevant sources of inspiration.
  • Decision Making and Problem Solving – Experimentation and risk taking, responding to unexpected outcomes and resolving