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Designing a clearer picture

ART. Diane Spencer looks at the evolution of a moer user-friendly art curriculum. Sir Ron Dearing's national curriculum art proposals were "well-received", according to responses to the draft published in May which was judged to be more "user-friendly". "The removal of examples, the reduction in prescription, and the greater clarity of language are the main recognised improvements," says the report on the consultation.

However, it revealed "concerns about resourcing for art and the need for training of teachers". Three-quarters of respondents reckoned that the amount of content in each key stage was about right and demands on teachers were thought to be high but realistic.

But a number of key issues raised by some of the 3,969 responses to the questionnaire, mainly from teachers, have been accepted by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Textiles, for example, has been added to the specified range of media for practical work at key stages 1 and 2, and sculpture replaces modelling as a more appropriate term. Photography has been added to the range of work of artists, craftspeople and designers at all stages.

Constant references to art, craft and design in the proposals were welcomed, as was the suggested balance in the requirement to study art from western and other cultures.

Teachers approved of retaining the two attainment targets (Investigating and Making; Knowledge and Understanding) but felt that end of key stage statements in the proposals were too vague.

The statements have now been drafted in the same style as level descriptions in other subjects and their title has been changed to "end of key stage descriptions (EKSDs)".

Key changes from thedraft proposals: * a statement on providing for visually impaired pupils (a tactile approach to art, craft and design, for example) has been included in the common requirements; * the introduction to the programmes of study (POS) now emphasises that pupils' enjoyment of the subject should be developed through activities that bring together requirements from both attainment targets; * the distinctive components of the art curriculum, including visual literacy and tactile elements of pattern and texture, colour, images, shape, form and space are included in all key stage introductions to the programmes of study; * requirements for pupils to apply their knowledge and understanding to their own practical work and to evaluate their own and others' work have been incorporated into the opportunities relating to the second attainment target of know-ledge and understanding.

The EKSDs are designed to help teachers judge the extent to which their pupils match up to these expectations when they have been taught the relevant programme. They match the level of demand in other subjects and are broadly equivalent to level 2 at KS1, level 4 at KS2 and levels 56 at KS3.

Key changes from thecurrent Order: * the structure and format have been re-designed to make the Order easier for teachers to use; * each statement in the programme of study is linked across the key stages to make continuity and progression more explicit; * non-statutory examples for each programme of study statement have been removed; * the materials and methods in the practical art curriculum in the first two key stages have been specified to help primary teachers ensure a balanced programme of activities; * the three strands of the POS have been reduced to two; * pupils no longer have to study art from early, Renaissance and later periods at KS2.

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