I recently decided to do a mural with my GCSE art and design class. Each of my 22 students produced a design representing a subject taught in the school. They were asked to choose an artist or art movement and paint their panel in that style. They were encouraged not to take the chosen work too literally, but to make a picture that represented the subject imaginatively. I chose the subject that each person would do, based on my knowledge of the student, and gave them a fairly free hand - although I drew the line at a portrait of Jennifer Lopez to represent music and encouraged the student who was doing geography to do something more imaginative than maps. The paintings and collages varied a great deal. To represent drama there was a painting of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, with little sticks for the thatched roof and "All the World's a Stage" emblazoned on it. This was in the style of Van Gogh.
There was also a swimming pool theme in the style of David Hockney for PE, graffiti artwork for citizenship, and a panel of John Lennon in the style of Andy Warhol for music. The students responded amazingly well to being given responsibility to produce individual works. They were very enthusiastic: one evening we were still painting after school hours and decided to hold a pizza painting party. Everyone contributed to varnishing the work, which was also done outside school hours. The mural, which took three months to complete, is now on two walls in the heart of the school, next to the headteacher's office.
Saira Knowles, art teacher, Stretford Grammar School, Manchester