International Journal of Art & Design Education

Art & Design: The Rhetoric and the Practice

Volume 19.1   2000



In this paper I will outline what I perceive to be the current context in which Art and Design activities operate in Primary and Secondary Schools in England. I will argue that significant advances in the teaching of the subject in the last two decades are being threatened, particularly in the primary sector, due to the impact of a number of factors including the new ‘standards’ agenda, and constraints arising from limitations in resources, teaching expertise and deployment, and the effects of assessment. The under achievement of boys will be considered in relation to some observations on differentiation in the subject at Secondary level. The paper will suggest that the attempts by teachers to offer an art curriculum that covers all aspects of artistic activity has led to a superficiality of experience for pupils, and therefore a ‘depth’ rather than a breadth approach to art curriculum planning is now necessary. The variable impact of Critical Studies activities will be considered, including that of Artists in Schools and I will suggest that there is an opportunity to extend current art practice encouraging greater risk-taking, through an open-ended problem-solving approach, and a development of work which celebrates pupils’ own cultures and interests.