Aspire, Achieve and Thrive

Art, Design & Technology

Our Aim

 At Downland School we recognise the vital role that ADT (art, design and technology) plays in helping young people to develop a sense of their own identity and value. Art and design education provides and inspires personal expression and prepares children with the skill sets they need to become successful, well-rounded thinkers. These skills include:

Creativity: studying art and design provides pupils with the opportunities to express their individual interests, thoughts and ideas whilst equipping them with the knowledge and skills to participate in, experiment with, invent and create their own works of art. Pupils learn to think outside the box and develop creative, problem-solving skills - skills that employers value alongside qualifications.

Collaboration: working together for a common purpose teaches children that their contribution is important. By working collaboratively on a project, pupils learn to communicate more effectively and compromise when necessary - vital skills in any work environment where teams come together for a common goal.

Confidence: art and design lessons provide a safe space for pupils to explore their talents and build their confidence. Studying art teaches determination and resilience – qualities useful to any career. Pupils learn that it is acceptable to fail, to not get things right the first time and to have the courage to start again. With this confidence, they are more likely to take risks and step out of their comfort zone to try new things in other areas of their lives.

Cultural Awareness & Empathy: art and design education connects pupils with their own culture as well as with the wider world, encouraging awareness and appreciation of difference and diversity and the views of others. By learning about other people, children are able to develop their ability for empathy, realising that we have more in common than not - essential in working with people from all walks of life.

Critical Thinking: the process of designing and making work helps build critical thinking skills including observation, reasoning, and problem-solving. Critical thinking skills are also in play when observing and analysing famous works. Developing these skills helps pupils to make good decisions and understand the consequences of their actions; pupils are also encouraged to use focus and self-control to set and follow through on goals and solve problems.

In short, art and design education helps children with the development of fine motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness: ways of working that will benefit them in the future in whatever career they choose.

Pupils follow the national curriculum at key stages 2 and 3. The national curriculum for art and design aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences
  • Become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques
  • Evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design
  • Know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms

Key Stage 2 (Year 6)

During year 6, pupils have six lessons of ADT each week, split into two lessons each of art, cooking and resistant materials. Pupils’ individual starting points are taken into account and inform the planning, personalisation and delivery of ADT. Many of our pupils have missed out on early ADT teaching so the focus is on building confidence, developing fine motor skills and closing gaps in age-related expectations.

Pupils are taught and supported:

  • To use a range of materials creatively to design and make products
  • To use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination
  • To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space
  • To learn about great artists, architects and designers in history.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

Key stage 3 pupils also have six lessons of ADT weekly, again split into two lessons of art, cooking and resistant materials. The lessons are taught in classrooms specifically designed for the subject and include a fully fitted cooking room, a well-equipped classroom and a practical workshop. The key stage 3 curriculum is developed to ensure that it builds on the skills learnt in year 6 and that pupils are able to further their knowledge and learning across all three subjects. The school uses ‘Rising Stars’ (Classroom Monitor) to assess pupils’ skills and abilities. Teachers carefully tailor feedback to ensure that all pupils know how to make progress and move towards achieving their age-related targets. Teaching is personalised to ensure that all pupils can access lessons, engage with and enjoy this subject area.

Pupils are taught and supported to:

  • Use a range of techniques to record their observations in sketchbooks, journals and other media as a basis for exploring their ideas
  • Use a range of techniques and media, including painting
  • Increase their proficiency in the handling of different materials
  • Analyse and evaluate their own work, and that of others, in order to strengthen the visual impact or applications of their work
  • Know about the history of art, craft, design and architecture, including periods, styles and major movements from ancient times up to the present day.

More information on the national curriculum for ADT can be found here:

Resources for pupils:

Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11)

Pupils in year 10 and 11 follow pathways which can lead to GCSE qualifications; each subject is taught for three lessons per week. The specification is flexible and accessible and is tailored by specialist teachers in order to inspire, challenge and motivate every pupil, no matter what their level of ability. These are practical courses in which pupils learn by doing, enabling them to create imaginative and personal work. They will find out about a whole range of media, techniques and processes and the programmes of study encourage pupils to develop their skills across a range of disciplines. We currently offer three two-year art and design GCSEs under the following titles:

  • Art, craft and design
  • Three-dimensional design
  • Photography.

Pupils can study any one of the courses above or a combination of Photography and one other.

There are two components to each of the above courses:

Component 1 (portfolio)
Throughout year 10 and the first term of year 11, pupils build up a comprehensive portfolio of work which includes an extended project. They develop responses to initial starting points or specified tasks and realise intentions informed by research, the development and refinement of ideas and meaningful engagement with selected sources. Responses must include evidence of drawing for different purposes and written annotation. Component 1 carries 60% of the total marks.

Component 2 (externally set assignment)
In January of year 11, pupils start preparatory work for their exam in which they respond to a starting point provided by AQA. This response provides evidence of the pupil's ability to work independently within specified time constraints, realise intentions that are personal and meaningful, and explicitly address the requirements of all four assessment objectives. The externally set assignment concludes with a ten-hour practical exam, usually taken over two days, and carries 40% of the total marks.

Both components are marked against the four assessment objectives (AOs); these are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE Art and Design specifications and all exam boards. The exams and non-exam assessment measure how pupils have achieved the following assessment objectives:

  • AO1: Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.
  • AO2: Refine work by exploring ideas, selecting and experimenting with appropriate media, materials, techniques and processes.
  • AO3: Record ideas, observations and insights relevant to intentions as work progresses.
  • AO4: Present a personal and meaningful response that realises intentions and demonstrates understanding of visual language.

The ability to handle materials, techniques and processes effectively, skilfully and safely underpins all the assessment objectives. It is important in enabling pupils to develop a personal language, to express ideas and to link their intentions to outcomes in a confident and assured manner.

Art, craft and design

This is a broad-based course exploring practical, critical and contextual work through a range of 2D and/or 3D processes and media. Art, craft and design gives pupils the skills and knowledge to create personal and imaginative work. They can choose to focus on a specialist area of study from a variety of exciting processes and media which suit their individual interests and abilities. Pupils will develop their creativity and independent thought, learn to express themselves visually and let their imagination flourish. Art, craft and design is a great companion to all other subjects as creativity, imagination and problem solving skills can inspire great ideas for other subjects.

Three-dimensional design

Three-dimensional design is about looking, learning, thinking and communicating ideas. It inspires creative thinkers, problem solvers and people who enjoy making. This course in three-dimensional design enables pupils to select appropriate materials and learn how they fit together, develop an understanding of scale and experiment with texture and surface finish. The course provides an ideal opportunity for pupils  to explore and develop ideas using materials and techniques which relate to a final product, structure or space. This balance of practical, academic and analytical skills is widely transferable and can complement their other subjects.


Photography involves exploring ideas and looking at things in different ways. Pupils will develop their understanding of the visual world, learn practical skills and respond to ideas and issues in ways that are personal to them. Photography is about looking, learning, thinking and communicating ideas. It inspires creative thinkers. Photography means ‘drawing with light’ and that is what photographers do when they take a picture. In this course, pupils will have the opportunity to explore various techniques to create images that make a personal statement about things that interest or concern them, capturing the world as they see it.

More information about AQA GCSE Art and Design can be found here:

Resources for pupils :