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What is Art? (Disciplinary Knowledge)

Disciplinary knowledge is the process of creating art through understanding how the subject works and the creative process.

The creative process is about children using their own experiences and imagination to create art. It is about them observing, recording, and mimicking the world around them. They create artwork based on ideas that interest them working with a range of materials, techniques, and styles both using the ideas of other artists and their own original thoughts. It is an opportunity for them to express their feelings and emotions and to discuss and express their views on their own artwork and the art of others. Often working individually, they will sometimes collaborate with others – sharing ideas, providing commentary, or working together on shared pieces. Much of this creative process will be evidenced through their art sketchbook which reflects their personal creative journey as an artist.

Stage 1

Stage 1 is understanding the conventions of art and design including:

·         How artists have used styles, forms, and genre over a sustained period of time (History of Art).

·         Techniques – The skills and methods that are taught and can be relied upon to produce the expected outcome.

·         The elements of art and the principles of design.

·         Mimicry - Artists imitate other artists and copy the world around them.


Stage 2

Stage 2 is about building upon the conventions of art and design through exploration and experimentation.

·         Experimenting with different ways of working with materials, mixing styles, genre, and forms of art.

·         Exploration - Artists trying out new ideas, new materials and trying out new technologies.


Stage 3

Artists at Stage 3 create art that is different and sometimes disruptive.

At Stage 3 artists use their understanding of the conventions of art along with their experiences of experimentation and exploration to create original and authentic art pieces that are personal and meaningful to them and expressive to others.


Each unit of work provides a series of high-quality lessons that are sequenced and build towards an ambitious creative outcome that allows the children to produce a creative and original piece of art. Within each lesson there are opportunities for children to secure knowledge, practise skills and techniques or understand key features of the art they are learning about.

Progression charts are provided that demonstrate how knowledge, skills and concepts are developed and built upon as the curriculum is taught. Each unit of work is suitable for either Key Stage 1 (Years 1 & 2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4) or Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 & 6)


A presentation that addresses ‘What is Art?’ for children can be downloaded here 

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