Art and Design at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
Pablo Picasso

We aim for every student to enjoy art.

By challenging orthodox views of ‘good’ art, and by identifying the skills and creative ideas of the student as individual, we celebrate and nurture our student’s development over time. This approach based on facilitating and supporting a creative journey requires students to work with a positive attitude and willingness to take risks; the more they try, the more they will achieve and enjoy.

By broadening what is considered a ‘good’ piece of art from conservative views of drawing and providing a wide range of creative opportunities, we challenge the common misconception of students and parents, that being good at art, requires a person to be able to draw in a highly rendered fashion. Drawing is a form of expression, and when expressing thoughts and emotions, everyone is different. Identifying the individual's strengths as well as challenging barriers to creativity is at the heart of what we strive to do in creating a learning environment rich in opportunity and open in interpretation.

We aim to inspire and excite students experience in art and design by providing a scaffolded, sequenced curriculum which builds on a philosophy rather than a set of skills only. Being able to view the world with an open eye, is as important as being able to create an artwork. Commenting on the work of others and how our world is ‘designed’ evidenced through annotated sketchbook pages and class discussions. 

Skills and knowledge can be developed using any theme/topic, but high levels of engagement need to be created using relevant and meaningful schemes of work. As a student moves through the key stages, projects are gradually made more bespoke for the student and tailored towards their needs, and ultimately, we want students to be highly independent and confident in taking creative risks. We view the student's development as a journey of experimenting and celebrate the unexpected, with open ended responses leading from one artwork to the next. The journey to Year 11 or Year 13 begins in Year 7.

Part of challenging traditional views of art and design practice is to acknowledge the role of contemporary makers and designers, at the same time developing an appreciation of the history of art & design across different cultures. Learning to hear the other side of the argument and developing opinions based on learning, rather than feeling, part of the curriculum. Students can dismiss an art movement, but they need to do so based on a reasoned, educated opinion.

The journey from KS3 to KS4 is based around developing creativity, independence, enjoyment of making, skills and knowledge, together with an understanding everyone can find at least one area or making art to help create a sense of achievement. There is no one way to make a drawing and all can achieve.

At Key Stage 4 we offer GCSE Art & Design and GCSE Photography.

At Key Stage 5 we offer A Level Art & Design with the opportunity to select from one of 6 titles within Art & Design.

You can see examples of student work in the document below.