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Drawn, hung and applauded

Getting to grips with A Curriculum for Excellence is no easy task, but at one primary, the children turned it into an art form

Getting to grips with A Curriculum for Excellence is no easy task, but at one primary, the children turned it into an art form

Classical music plays in the background while visitors circulate, pausing to survey portraits, collages and landscapes. The exhibition catalogue details artist and title for each numbered painting, and stickers denote items sold.

This is not the interior of an exclusive salon, but the hall of Caskieberran Primary in Glenrothes, which was transformed into an art gallery for a day in December. Every child in the school, from nursery to P7, produced a flat piece of art plus a craft for the exhibition, which was planned, organised and set up by the P5-7s as a cross-curricular enterprise challenge.

Parents, friends of the school and invited guests visited and, as well as meeting a number of A Curriculum for Excellence objectives, an unplanned bonus of the day was some welcome funds, since 165 of the 200 paintings and drawings found buyers.

"We're a school which is just getting into A Curriculum for Excellence planning, so we used some new Curriculum for Excellence material to plan it," explains Jennifer Weir, the P56 teacher.

"The original idea came from my colleague, the P7 teacher. We had quite a few meetings outwith the school and it did take a lot of organisation but it was well worth it. The children really got a lot out of it and we had lots of very positive comments from parents as well."

Mrs Weir's composite class of 25 P5s and 6s were put together with Denise Baxter's 20 P7s and then divided into 10 teams of four or five, each tasked with certain jobs and responsibilities. The children designed, produced and distributed invitations and tickets, wrote to local businesses for support and researched and created PowerPoint presentations on local artists - "using Curriculum for Excellence skills including working as a team, taking part in decision-making, using maths, language, talking and listening skills and thinking of new ideas".

She and Mrs Baxter took their classes to Kirkcaldy Art Gallery in October, where they learned about how a gallery is run and what factors are considered in deciding how and where to hang a picture, such as organising works by themes or dedicating a corner to a local artist for example.

Back at school, the P5-7 children worked closely with school art exhibitions company, Images. "We had planned to frame all the pictures ourselves but they provide a whole service," says Mrs Weir. "They came to the school and provided the paper - all the same size. We then produced the paintings, they came and collected them, framed them all in proper wooden frames, and set it up and hung artwork on the day of the gallery.

"The children got to choose the name of their painting and when the company came on the day, they made up a catalogue. The frames looked fantastic; it really made all the difference."

The children worked as hosts, while volunteer parents ran a tea and coffee stall with home baking. Exhibits, produced on paper a little larger than A4, were priced at Pounds 5 apiece and parents were given first refusal for purchasing their own child's creation.

"We had 200 flat pieces and we sold them all, bar 35," says Mrs Weir. "It wasn't a fundraising exercise but we made Pounds 415 profit for the school. We only spent Pounds 65 on the whole project - on paints and pieces of craft material - but that was covered by a donation of Pounds 100 from the local paper mill, Tullis Russell."

Alison Henderson, the headteacher, bought 10 of the paintings, which are now on display in the entrance hall. The school plans to donate Pounds 150 to an art therapy charity and spend the remainder on materials for the children to make easels.

The nursery children did self-portraits, the P1s created a collage out of different types of material, the P34 class produced batik-style animal prints, the P7s each chose and copied a well-known piece of art, and Mrs Weir's class could choose between a wintry scene or a Kandinsky-style print. Craft pieces were sold two weeks later at a Christmas fair, and included papier mache piggy banks, hanging tree decorations made from clay, Christmas cards and T-shirt designs.

"We don't have an art teacher, so it was just the staff," says Mrs Weir. "It was a real whole-school effort. The company was brilliant; they were fantastic to work with.

It turned out to be a very good collaboration. The children really responded and the whole thing was very professional. We are just getting to grips with A Curriculum for Excellence. It was a very positive experience."

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