At South Lee we believe that Art belongs to everyone. Everything begins with a vision of widespread enjoyment in a culture of supportiveness and expert tuition. We believe that here individuals and their ideas can flourish. From this foundation it is hoped that skills will develop and refine more quickly while pupils nurture a lasting appreciation of Art and Design.


Children in Reception spend the year thinking about how art can be used to represent their feelings, personalities and interests. They work individually and collectively to develop an understanding of the properties of a range of materials, learning how to manipulate them to create a desired effect. Through this experimentation pupils record their own experiences and are encouraged to reflect critically on their outcomes. Work always begins with a key artist to introduce artistic language and practice simple analytical skills.

Year 1 work through a range of small projects under the theme of ‘Structures’. Pupils work in two- and three-dimensions considering the characteristics and emotional symbolism of simple structures found at home such as their front door, through to iconic design in architecture. Work becomes more individual, encouraging pupils to pursue their own ideas and continues to draw on personal experience. The importance of observation in drawing is introduced alongside discussion of key visual elements such as shape and form.

Projects in year two revolve around ‘The Natural World’ and begin by recording flora and fauna found in our local Nowton Park. They use drawing, painting and relief work based on the idea of negative space reflecting how children may now understand less about nature close to home and know more about species native to countries far away. Children continue their journey into becoming proficient in drawing, painting and sculpture. This theme progresses to studying landscape painting and children begin to use artistic language and analytical skills more frequently. Pupils experiment with colour mixing, different paint application methods and collaging to assemble a scene, taking into account composition and perspective.


Year 3 is a year of ‘Experimentation’ where classes not only experiment with materials but are also challenged with interesting ideas. This could be turning a micro pocket drawing into a macro abstract painting or drawing alternative viewpoints like aerial perspectives. Pupils begin using a sketchbook where they can record personal visual and written responses to ideas and artists work and are encouraged to work more independently and reflectively. Handling and understanding of materials quickly develop as pupils study artists who push the boundaries. A focus on the fundamentals of recording from direct observation such as shape, colour matching, composition and space still however run through every project. 

Year 4 discover the magic of printmaking as they study the different qualities of ‘Line’ through a variety of subject matter. To begin with a natural landscape is distilled into hard, soft and broken line as pupils learn how to select appropriate drawing materials for representing different textures in a landscape. This progresses into making textured collagraph plates that pupils take a print from using our etching press. The theme of Line then changes into an architectural drawing project where manmade, city dwellings become the subject but when pupils continue to develop skills in drawing and printmaking. Analysis of artists work should be evident in the practical work itself, however pupils also begin to use a structure for written image analysis which is developed over future years of study.

‘The Effect of Light’ is the overarching theme for Year 5, which focusses on nearly all the visual elements. A structural still life inspired by Phyllida Barlow’s drawings asks that pupils study shape, pattern and line through a series of drawings and monoprints. Feel and sense of place is then introduced through Monet’s sketches and en plan air paintings as the founder of Impressionism. Colour therefore comes to the forefront, as does the use of grounds in painting finalised with selective detail using careful brushwork. Pupil’s skills are stretched as they consider atmosphere as well as realistic representation in their work which also develops their critical thinking and depth of analysis.

Pupils in Year 6 study and create artwork linked to ‘Looking In’ and ‘Looking Out’. They begin by looking at the lighting conditions created by windows through direct observation and artist links, culminating in a painting that looks out upon a scene that is personal to each individual. Foreground, middle ground and background are planned and practiced carefully during the design process where self-evaluation skills are given time to flourish. Looking in is a textiles project beginning with the direct observation and deconstruction of a cardboard box. This year allows pupils to make highly personal and original artwork as they explore their own ideas relating to these themes and are given more independence in project development.


All of Year 7’s projects are based on the theme of ‘Contrast’. The first project challenges the way pupils draw, encouraging them to record negative space when observing shapes made by contrasting organic and geometric objects. This work develops into pattern making and patterned still life paintings, such as in Matisse’s arrangements, while also developing skills in mixed media and collage. Additionally, more complex printmaking skills such as etching are introduced to pupils in Year 7 with the view of pupils increasing proficiency in handling different materials.


In the final year, Year 8 pupils consider the title ‘Reflections’ and what this means to them. They begin by looking at how we can convey personality and identity through self-portraiture. Here pupils consider sophisticated colour theory through mixing skin tones, and tackle painting their own facial features with guidance from some of the master portrait painters. After this, pupils design a pattern that reflects themselves to be painted on their clothes or in the background of their self-portrait. Following this project pupils consider how to make art that reflects the immediate world around them as the change of moving into Year 9 at a different school inches closer.


South Lee are very proud to deliver a Design Technology curriculum that extends and evolves what pupils learn in STEM whenever possible. Pupils are introduced to a key idea before being given a group design brief as well as a design specification to work towards. Pupils will follow an age-appropriate version of the following 5-step structure during their Thursday afternoon enrichment sessions:

  1. Introduction of Design Brief and Specification; Research and Information Gathering

  2. Design Ideas

  3. Prototype and Problem Solving

  4. Planning

  5. Making and Evaluating

Year 1 & 2 Design Brief

Design Technology projects for Year 1 & 2 are based on a range of stories that introduce various ideas and challenges. For example, having looked at the story of Rapunzel throwing down her hair as a ladder for the prince pupils learn about how fibres are woven together to make a fabric. They then generate their own fibres out of recycled materials and make pieces of fabric with these on giant looms. DT based projects for Reception are incorporated into their timetabled art lessons and are focussed on the theme.

Year 3 Design Brief

Having made an Herbarium that samples flowering plants from around the school campus, consider how you can design and make a structure that encourages wildlife biodiversity at school. Whenever possible use materials that have been collected locally or sourced on site.

Year 4 Design Brief

Having made a model chair with a small cushion in STEM, create and screen print a design for a life size cushion that demonstrates your understanding of technical drawing and typography. Your design should include two different colours and incorporate the initials of your favourite teddy/toy that the chair was designed for.

Year 5 Design Brief

With the necessity of a ‘Make Do and Mend’ approach to preserving belongings during WW2 and having already created a ‘Fab Fix’ repair kit, design and make a work overall that will protect your clothes from wear and tear. Your overall must include a fastening, a pocket to keep your tool kit close, and of course be hard wearing.

Year 6 Design Brief

“You have survived a plane crash, what would be the first 3 things you would do, and how would you do them?”. Design and build a prototype for a structure that would give you sufficient shelter to stay safe. Consider what materials would be available to you and how your structure will be made strong. Include one feature that uses a pully.

Year 7 Design Brief

Having considered the life cycle of a T-shirt and how ‘throw away’ textiles are contributing to mounting landfill issues, chose a pre-loved textiles item and re-purpose it into something with a different use, recycling as much of the garment as you can and using as few new materials as possible.

Year 8 Design Brief

The LEGO® Braille Bricks concept is a play-based methodology that teaches braille to children who are blind or have a visual impairment. Design a block based educational tool for blind or visually impaired children that includes both braille and printed letters so that all children can play and learn together on equal terms.