At Drumbeat, we want our students to learn to make sense of the world around them and to express themselves freely. Art provides a vehicle for both of these skills, and is therefore a crucial aspect of our children and young people’s learning experience. It is a means of communication and expression in its own right, and also provides countless rich opportunities for the development of vocabulary and language through the experience of art. The study of art stimulates creativity and imagination; essential skills for wellbeing, understanding of the world and forming relationships.
The Art curriculum at Drumbeat draws upon the principles from the EYFS Development Matters stages through to the National Curriculum levels and adapts these to meet the individual strengths and needs of the students at Drumbeat and as such is a seen as a progressive curriculum. We have identified 6 key aspects of Art, which can be practiced by our students at all levels. These are: drawing, painting, printing, collage, sculpture and digital media. There is no hierarchy to these strands but rather they should be taught and developed at all levels, whether that be the exploration of textures and colours, or the refinement of technical skills.
The aim of this curriculum is to ensure that Art is taught in a clear, sequential manner that allows all of the students to reach their potential in this area. All students should be given plenty of opportunity to experience art as an enjoyable and fulfilling activity, so that they have the choice to continue this further in their life if they wish. There should be a balance between the direct teaching of skills and technique, and providing freedom for children to practice and use these skills as they choose, in order to express themselves freely. By the time they leave Drumbeat, all students should have been provided with plenty of opportunity to experience, explore and practice art at their level, and to have been taught to develop their skills according to their ability.
At all stages of the art curriculum, there should be an emphasis on process over product. It is vital that the students are given the opportunity to explore, take risks, make mistakes and make a mess. It is only in this way that they can learn to view art as a pleasurable experience and a powerful medium for perceiving and sharing with the world. While teachers facilitate the art process, and will often need to directly teach particular skills and processes, they should not lead the art process. It is essential that the students are allowed time, freedom and autonomy to explore and practice art in their own way and at their own pace. Students should be allowed to take the time that they need to explore each aspect of the art curriculum. For example, if a class are highly engaged in a particular topic and don’t seem ready to move on, there is no requirement to change the topic. Instead,
they should be able to explore, practice and follow their interests for as long as necessary.
Creative and imaginative activities such as art use the right side of the brain and stimulate the production of oxytocin, which produces feelings of happiness and pleasure. Therefore, art can be an important tool in promoting good wellbeing and mental health. Many people find comfort in practising art, and find that it gives them a sense of satisfaction and calm. For many of the students at Drumbeat, learning to use art in this way can have a wonderful effect on their ability to regulate and manage their emotions.
In all art lessons, students should be encouraged to be as independent and autonomous as possible. The students should fetch their own resources, put on their own aprons as far as they can, and should always be provided with and encouraged to make choices. For some students, this may mean making a choice between two materials, for others, it may mean being supported to select the materials they may need for an activity, and for some students, it may mean deciding which techniques and media they wish to use for a piece of art.
In addition to supporting wellbeing and independence, art links to many other areas of the curriculum. Art provides a strong visual and tactile sensory experience, so it helps students to explore and make sense of the world around them. There are also many opportunities within the practice of art to develop language and communication, for example building vocabulary and describing what can be seen or felt. Students also develop their physical and fine motor skills through practicing art, which can support them with all other areas of the curriculum, especially writing. Finally, links can be made to math's, e.g. through looking at shape and counting, to science, e.g. exploring light and nature, and to technology and computing through the use of digital media. Art is truly a cross-curricular and developmental area of the curriculum.