Pupil voice in Primary Art and Design

I often find myself responding to Qs from art subject leads via FB and emails, these questions are increasingly around how to evidence progression and how to ‘defend’ a particular approach to assessment… For example, a decision by a teacher not to use the general school marking system in sketchbooks (I myself do not write in children’s sketchbooks).

I am a big believer that gaining and collating feedback from the children forms an important part of the bigger picture and direction of your art provision, and any outside visitors should be interested to hear their perspective too. Here are some ways I have gathered pupil voice in the past:

A simple A4 question sheet to KS2 done at any point throughout the year (children should feel free to fill this in anonymously if desired).

An anonymous ‘comments and suggestions about art’ box.

Informal chats with small groups of children, outside of the context of the art lessons.

Discussions with the class during art lessons.

A large canvas with a question on it – children are invited to paint responses.

A big question focus each half term with children invited to attach post-its with comments in response.

Creativity is...
Children from all years contributed to this large canvas, completing the sentence ‘creativity is…’

It is always interesting to hear the children’s responses to questions such as:

How do you know when you have made progress in art?

Why do we have art lessons?

What do you learn in art?

What are the guidelines for using sketchbooks?

How are art lessons different / the same as other lessons?

How do you improve in art?

How do you feel in art lessons?

Why do people make art?

What skills do you learn in art/ did you learn this term in art?

I don’t write in your sketchbooks, how do you feel about that?

What do you do if you are stuck in art?

Which areas do you want to improve on in art?

What makes you feel most proud in art?

Who knows the most about your progression / work in art?

These sorts of questions can really inform your choices about teaching, planning and assessment in art. I suggest very regularly collecting pupil feedback as an integral part of your art and design leadership, try to make time for it (I hear you eye-rolling at the idea of making more time to do more things? I know, sorry!).

Leading on Art has its own set of challenges compared with other primary school subjects, not least because we are often creating the intent and implementation with very little national guidance. It makes sense that our approach to its place in our schools should feel more creative, less top-down and truly consider the school community. For example, you could use a cross section of pupil feedback to create a manifesto for your art provision, feeding into your decisions around that Ofsted prompted consideration of ‘intent’.

When you are asked about progress in art and how you asses, hopefully your pupil voice evidence will backup that the methods your school uses are effective…and if they tell you otherwise, then it may be time to reflect and change. Keep in mind that Ofsted have said “developing and embedding an effective curriculum takes time, and that leaders may only be partway through the process of adopting or redeveloping a curriculum”. Be brave about evolving your art provision and changing things up a bit; as long as you have well considered reasons….pupil voice can form a big part of that story.








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