Course for Subject Leaders: Resources

This page contains links to the supplementary resources and materials referred to in a professional development course for subject leaders. The course explored the implications of the new curriculum for subject leaders and took a strategic view of subject development. The earlier February course for teachers had a more pragmatic view and focused upon teaching.

The course explored the broad implications for subject coordinators, assessment, curriculum and leadership, with a detour to sketchbooks and Art Express.


Introduction presentation
The new national curriculum does not demand major change. Indeed it does not demand any change at all, although schools may welcome the opportunity to revitalise and refresh their curriculum.


Assessment Presentation
A major issue for subject leaders will be related to assessment in the light of the Government’s decision to abandon the previous system of published standards in the form of levels. It is anticipated that, although this is the wrong way round, the shape of assessment will be a key influence on the teaching and learning in art and design. Schools are expected to produce their own assessment system by September 2014. This will be difficult. The DFE , the NFER and the NAHT have produced papers exploring the issue. Subject associations and the subject Expert Advisory Groups are also working on the issue with a view to publishing guidance. The DfE has invited tenders for funding to develop, up to 10, examples of open source assessment systems that will be published in spring 2014. It is anticpated that once these are published some of them will become the de facto orthodoxy.

Art Express

The publication Art Express was shared as one of the few all round schemes of work available which actually matches the new national curriculum. It is fully compliant. It was noted that some further work is being done to develop supplementary materials to be posted on the publisher’s website. These include a primary art policy which uses Art Express as the programme of study. This model policy can be used by any school wishing to use Art Express to deliver the art curriculum. It includes a fully resolved assessment system predicated upon the expectations of progress defined in the units rather than the old vague and undefined system of ‘levels’ which has been abandoned by the government. The policy also provides forms and templates which allow units to be adapted and amended. Art and Design Policy Using Art Express


Curriculum Presentation
The new curriculum provides an opportunity to step back from the QCA curriculum of a termly pursuit of a themed outcome which has become the orthodoxy in many schools. The notion of a curriculum which is composed of a variety of, possibly free standing, units of work, of very different lengths, and purposes is liberating for those with the confidence to take risks (see post). For others, the tried and tested structures and lines of progression developed through the earlier more defined national curriculum will, quite properly, be retained, especially where there is a need to support less confident teachers. It’s a cultural thing and schools have different cultures.

In discussion subject leaders developed various ideas for new types of Units. In addition to specific skill/technique based units the idea of short/medium term units using a more open ended exploratory starting point was discussed. This might start from an aspect of the formal elements ‘RED’ for example, or from a process such as ‘OVERLAPPING’. These are rooted in the language of art but not in any particular medium or outcome. Such an approach makes sense towards the end of a Key Stage when students can makes choices and apply what they have learnt. To a degree it’s a process which has parallels in KS4 with the GCSE.


During the course subject leaders shared concerns and ideas. Here is a brief summary of some of the points made:

  • Schools are different, for instance, in terms of the expectations, culture, experience and confidence of teachers. Therefore, the role of a subject leader is very different, with different opportunities, demands and constraints. The old curriculum with QCA support provided a framework and guidelines. The new curriculum provides virtually nothing, other than a requirement to deliver the aims. It will be harder for an inexperienced subject leader to know what to do now. It will also be harder to use the national curriculum to make a case for resources, time or CPD.
  • Some experienced subject leaders recognised the opportunity the new curriculum offered to take forward ideas that had been in their thoughts for a while. Others also recognised that there was no need to change the curriculum that they had carefully developed over time, and which matched the resources, expertise and experience of their school.
  • Subject leaders acknowledged that at the present time core subjects took priority.
  • By and large the concerns and preoccupations of subject leaders were not significantly different to those that might have been expressed 2 or 3 years ago (ie before the change). These were:
    • teachers who lacked confidence
    • a personal lack of experience
    • lack of funding
    • demands of assessment
    • lack of curriculum time
    • the constraints of art being delivered only as an adjunct to a ‘topic’.
  • During the course subject leaders did not raise particular concerns that were about assessment, national curriculum interpretation/delivery, or the demise of levels. Perhaps this, not unnaturally, indicates that most primary schools are still focussed essentially on the interpretation of core curriculum.
  • It was noted that by getting assessment right (ie defining the key conceptual framework of the subject and building this in to assessment strategies) those teachers who lacked confidence and experience would be better able to understand and teach the subject. That is, they would no longer worry about getting their pupils to make ‘nice’ pictures.
  • Subject leaders valued the opportunity to share ideas. They felt it would be valuable to maintain contact and to this end exchanged email addresses. (It would be really great if a network emerged from this contact and I wish them every success: Dan. PS note this post about networks)

3 Responses to Course for Subject Leaders: Resources

  1. Nikki Dereboy says:

    I am a coordinator in an International School in Istanbul. I have found your resources very useful over this year since I took up my position and have been working to implement progress objectives based on the NSEAD recomendations. However I am working very much in isolation.

    I was wondering if you knew of any subject leadership courses in England that I would be able to participate in either later this year or next year.

    Thank you


    • Dan says:

      Glad you found something of interest Nikki. I am afraid I don’t know of any courses myself, but Sue Coles is very active and may be able to help. You can find her details on the NSEAD consultants page. It’s also a good question for NSEAD. Either directly to Leslie Butterworth or to the members Facebook forum. I guess NSEAD is best placed to support someone in your position. Best Dan

  2. Pingback: Good to work with subject leaders again | Dan's art stuff

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