I’m still on the come-down from last week. I’m sure it’s not just us but everything always seems to speed up for the last few days before a holiday. I think I’m successfully avoiding the ‘funk‘ but I do find it difficult to turn off school-mode.
I don’t have any sort of work to do before next term and one of the only good things to come out of single status is I no longer have any guilt over the long holidays. I have however spent a fair amount of time so far reading about education, I know I’ll end up doing stuff on the school website in the next few weeks and at half eight yesterday morning I was reading the leaked assessment without levels report. Despite that I’m not really missing work.
The thing I am missing though is art. 2014 was a brilliant one for the work the pupils produced and the best results the school has ever seen (a bit about that here). This year has been just as good and even more ambitious, and I’m really hoping for the boys’ sake it’s just as successful.
We don’t tend to produce the sort of work that springs to mind when I think of GCSE Art. There’s no ‘torn up newspaper background’ or ‘bright watercolour dripping eye’. Nothing wrong with that of course, we just don’t seem to do it. The room is set up with pupils in their own space and all their work up on boards that we shift round for each lesson (pro of four kids max at a time). We pop on art documentaries if they’re getting on and this year ‘Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow‘ about Anselm Keifer and some brilliant clips of Bernard Aubertin burning stuff willy-nilly have gone down a storm.
Many use the art room as a sanctuary (even staff if I’m honest). The art they produce really does reflect their state of mind. Kev’s bottomless art knowledge means we can always chuck ideas at the boys to get them thinking and we can cater for different characters – the one that likes repetition and filling an IWB size piece of paper with thick, bold shapes; the one who likes detail and shuts himself in his own zone; the one obsessed with technology that distracts everyone in the room by never shutting up. We try to find something that fits. Last year the moderator seemed impressed at the massive scale of work produced and we really let them go for it this year (regretted it slightly when it came to displaying it all in our tiny room though).
Featured artists this year included Richard Serra, Tony Cragg, Basquiat, Rachel Whiteread, Kurt Schwitters, Mira Schendel, Gunther Uecker, Anselm Kiefer, David Nash, Jean Tinguley, Arman, Bridget Reiley and even Eric Carle. There’s loads more but I can’t remember them all just now. Before we broke up we trawled the used books on Amazon and bought a load for the art room. There’s some brilliant stuff there. Kev’s well into the Zero art movement at the moment so I expect we’ll get more things like Uecker and Arman next year.
Kev and I have developed a way of working that really works. From the set up of the room to the way we mark. This year we’ve put together an assessment scheme for KS3 using our GCSE mark scheme that aims to get the pupils working on mini projects and hopefully KS4 ready. I’ll have to ask at some point if I can share what we’ve done with the internet.
The argument for the place of creative subjects in the curriculum is played out regularly. I’m not going to bang on about it now. I do know that art has an important place in our school. Pupils who struggle to get a grade in core subjects are thriving in art and we will fight at every turn to give each of our pupils this opportunity. We’ve got a Richard Serra quote on the wall (heads up inspirational quote fans) ‘Work comes out of work’. All the kids know it, all the kids use it, and if you at any point decide to come and visit us, the chances are you’ll leave the room knowing it too.