Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Evolution and Inheritance

Within their Science lessons, children in Year 6 have been learning about evolution and inheritance. During our art room sessions, the children have worked independently to plan and create their own picture of a monkey, ape or chimp. The children were able to access all of our art materials and make individual choices concerning their own work. They worked on a range of sizes, using a wide range of media, developing numerous skills.



The entire project lasted 3 sessions, which included sketchbook preparation before starting their final pictures. The work produced was varied and showed a wide range of abilities. The final pictures used a wide range of art media, including: watercolours, poster paints, printing techniques, collage, charcoal drawings and much more. This was a great opportunity for the children to show the skills they have learnt throughout their time in the art room. The children thoroughly enjoyed the project and were engaged throughout!


Wire blossom with Year 1

Children in Year 1 have used wire cutters and pliers to cut and bend wire into petal shapes. First we looked at a range of drawings, paintings, photographs and 'real life' blossom for inspiration.
We needed: tissue paper, aluminium wire, PVA glue, wire cutters, pliers and glue spreaders.

After watching Mrs Barrett make an example, we set to work creating a range of petal shapes. We found cutting the wire and bending it into shape quite tricky but we persevered. We talked about using the tools safely and described what the wire felt like. The aluminium wire was incredibly bendy.

Once the petal shapes were ready, and we had twisted the excess wire around the stem, we were ready to add the tissue paper. We chose different pinks for petals and green for leaves. We spent time talking about blossom, trees and bees, linking our work to the Science curriculum.

We laid the wire petal on top of a piece of tissue paper and then surrounded it with a layer of PVA glue. We had to be careful not to add too much. We then placed another piece of tissue paper on top, making a petal sandwich. We then had to wait patiently for our petals to dry. When the glue had dried, we cut off the excess tissue paper with scissors.

We were then able to gather the petals and leaves all together to create a flower. We used extra wire to twist the petals together, squeezing tight with pliers to make sure the petals were firmly fixed together.

We have displayed some of our blossom onto our wire tree in the school entrance. The school tree was created last year by local wire artists Jim Bond and Helaina Sharpley.

Local Labour MP, Jo Cox visited our school earlier this year and commented on how beautiful our artwork was. To mark her birthday on 22nd June we laid one of our wire flowers at a memorial in Birstall town centre.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

APPG meeting in the House of Commons

On May 3rd 2016, Ms Cox and Mrs Barrett travelled to London to be part of the All Party Primary Group (APPG) for Art, Craft and Design in Education

We were honoured to be invited to deliver a short presentation, where we could share the good art practice taking place within our school. We also had the opportunity to discuss why we are actively promoting the quality teaching of Art within our curriculum and the impact we feel it is having on our students.

Below, you will find some photographs from the day, a copy of our speech and the photographs included within our presentation.

What an incredible setting for a meeting.

APPG Meeting 3rd May 2016

Hello and thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk to you about Art at Gomersal Primary School.  I am Melanie Cox, Headteacher at the school and with me is Mandy Barrett, our Specialist Art Teacher.
Gomersal Primary School is  420 place primary school based in West Yorkshire, situated between Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield. 
What do we offer in terms of Art education?
Before focusing on Art I would like to give you a wider picture of our curriculum as it currently stands.  We are constantly looking for ways to increase our ability to offer a wide curriculum to the children in our school.  We offer high quality sports provision, run our own Forest School and now provide regular time-tabled Performing Arts sessions. We have an ever expanding Arts Curriculum.  All of this is as a substantial part of our timetabled curriculum.
To focus, then, on our Visual Art provision, I would like to talk you through what we offer and how we have made it possible.
In 2013, when I was the Deputy at the school, our school moved into a larger premises; with an Art room and a kiln.  So we inherited a space to teach Art.  Mrs Barret, Mandy, our Art teacher, has already worked with us as a class teacher for 13 years but had limited opportunity to really impact on Art across the school.  And so the Art room sat relatively empty.
Mandy had often commented that the standard of Art in our school wasn’t as it ought to be and she had taken me to look at a local school, with a specialism in Art, to see their displays and work, and talk to their Art leader about how it could be possible to make it happen.  I was inspired.
In January 2014, I became the Acting Headteacher of the school.  As I began to look at staffing for the September, it seemed to me to make sense to ask Mandy to move into the Art room and teach Art across KS2.  Her remit was to improve the standards of Art across the school and to develop plans and projects over 2 years to support class teachers in their teaching of Art, with the intention of moving Mandy back into class after this time.  There are now no plans to move her out of the Art room as the impact she has had, and continues to have, on Art in our school is beyond anything I could have imagined.
We ensure that all Art skills are taught within the context of different subjects areas.  Even though Art is a subject in its own right, it greatly lends itself to enhancing children’s opportunity to study other subjects in a creative way, by providing the forum through which they can explore, discuss and express themselves.
This approach allows us to dedicate so much time to Art.
There are countless opportunities to link our History, Geography and Science curriculum with Art.  Creative writing and comprehension are also linked and taught within the Art room.  Art work is used to evoke discussion and debate even amongst our youngest pupils.  We find that children take greater ownership of the characters and settings in their stories when they have been instrumental in creating them.
We have to make sure we allocate sufficient funding for Mandy to be able to work with the right materials across the school.  We have also allocated some technician time to support Mandy in practical ways in the Art room, such as preparing resources and mounting work.
That said, we are a school that attracts very little in terms of additional funding and so manage primarily on a base budget allocation.  The Art budget is topped up through fundraising activities throughout the year.
All of our children now have access to an Art specialist in our Art room.  Our youngest children in Reception, and those in KS1, go to specialist lessons on a rolling program.  Our KS2 pupils access the Art room for at least an entire morning or afternoon per week.  This does not stop, or decrease in any way, during Year 6.  Our children are still accessing the full Art curriculum right the way through Year 6, including the week before and during the SATs week.  I see no reason why this should stop.  In fact, I believe it is vitally important that Year 6 children have access to Art to help combat some of the stresses they feel in the run up to the SAT’s.   Perhaps we should stop assuming that time spent on Art will have a negative impact on test results.
In addition to the curriculum time, we run a full range of after school Art activities where children have had the opportunity to print, paint, work with wire and create images using digital media.  We have exceptional links with local artists, many of whom support us with our after school clubs or run workshops through the day for our children to attend as part of their timetable.
Along with investing in practical support and resources for the Art curriculum, we have also made an investment in our staff through Continual Professional Development. As Art Leader, Mandy has attended several Art courses and has participated in networking opportunities, including the ‘Arts Award Assessor’ training  that she attended with our Performing Arts practitioner.  This year will be the first year that our Year 6 children will leave the school with an Art certificate in their hand alongside their SAT’s results. 
Within school, all our teaching staff have had opportunity to observe Mandy teaching Art and they have attended staff meetings and workshops where Art has been the focus.  Staff from other schools have visited to take part in training delivered by Mandy, and we have regular visitors from others schools as they come to gain training or gather ideas.
We have run workshops for children from other schools.  During these workshops, many children comment that this is the first Art lesson they have had this year.
Parents and staff at school have attended after school workshops.  This has led to a culture where parents and staff now drop in before or after school to continue with projects, or create new ones, whatever they feel inspired to do.
 So why do we do this?
Put simply, we do this because it is right for the children.  It seems to me that somewhere in our education system, with ever mounting pressure to reach an ever higher expected standard, the life experiences of our children has been forgotten. The whole child.  Our children are not just a collective group of brains that are all identical, yet that is how we test them.  We sum up the wealth of their experience in primary school by tests.  I can’t change the testing of children, set by external bodies.  But I can ensure that in our school, our children are respected as entire beings.  As children that think divergently and creatively.  As children that have a range of senses and responses to the world around them.  As children that are growing in a sense of self and an awareness of others.  So at Gomersal Primary School, we will continue to teach Art, indeed the Arts, as a core part of our curriculum, for as long as we are able. 
Thank you for listening.

Local artists work within our school to enhance the curriculum.

We have a large dedicated art space where the children can explore.

Artwork in our school entrance reflects our creative ethos.

Artwork is valued in a variety of ways

We take part in projects funded by our local authority.

We are inspired by artwork both at a local and national level.

We run workshops for teachers and children in our local area.
 We are spontaneous - when snow falls, we use it within our lessons.

We analyse work by significant artists to inspire our own work.

 Working with local artists in our afterschool art clubs.

 We offer gifted and talented workshops for children in our local area.

 Our curriculum is bursting with projects to develop many different art skills.

We work both individually and as part of a team.

Staff from our school and schools in our area attend CPD sessions in our art room.

Cross curricular links are incredibly important.

Literacy skills are developed within our art sessions.

We design, construct and evaluate.

Sketchbooks are used to research techniques.

 Parents are invited to view our work and take part in workshops.
 Early Years children visit our space on a regular basis.

We visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to enhance our learning.

 All our children are incredibly proud of their achievements.

Our sketchbooks are detailed and bursting with ideas.

We work from observation and imagination.


We have a wonderful environment in which to work

Parents attend workshops with their children

We work on a variety of scales.


Children in KS2 decide how to develop their own projects.

Settings and characters are created to inspire writing in Literacy sessions.
 We are inspired by our wonderful school grounds.

 We turn some of our art into fashion pieces.

We take part in digital workshops with a local artist.

Some of our work links to PSHE

Giant metal tree in our school entrance.

We work on the floor and outside.

EY children making progress in one lesson. 

Vibrant sketchbook pages.

Collaborative work.

We are very proud of our sketchbook pages.

We use artwork to inspire creative writing.

 We have a kiln to fire our clay pieces.