Art is a very important subject, in that it encourages an all round skill to be able to think creatively in all aspects of life and other subjects.
All pupils experience Art in the school whatever their disability. For some groups it is mainly a sensory experience where they would work one to one to use different tools and to experience all different media. Wherever possible it is important for the pupils to have the experience of paint and glue on their hands as they may not always have the opportunity to be ‘messy’ outside school.
More able students tend to be asked to work on individual projects where they will be involved in a developmental process of starting point through to a final finished piece of work, and having to research independently. Starting points vary; they could be based on a different culture, an individual artist’s work, or on an Art movement. Sometimes students will produce work that links in with work they are covering in other subjects. We have had other cross-curricular topics when the whole school has explored one theme for a whole week, e.g a ‘Japan’ week, and a ‘Recycling’ week.
Usually, depending on the theme, I like to incorporate a group piece of work such as a large scale ‘floor painting’ which students find fun, experimental and rewarding. Students of all abilities are able to join in, either with assistance or independently. We have created a range of tools specifically for this purpose; extended brushes, pots on the end of long sticks, bubble wrap attached to sticks, and sponges on sticks. Music can be used to reinforce the theme whenever relevant e.g punk music when talking about different emotions and producing paintings based on the same topic.
The most important element of Art at Blackfriars is to foster a really enjoyable experience for all abilities, which will be remembered by students long after their school days.