We aim to create the very best artists, designers, and photographers and challenge students to think, act, make, and speak with fluency as if professionals in their field.
Our Arts curriculum at MBA goes far beyond the taught lessons. We want students to achieve outstanding examination results and believe our curriculum goes beyond the exam board syllabus. We want our students to enjoy and value their Arts education. We want them inspired by the study of artists, designers, craftspeople, and photographers to create their work using traditional and 21st Century digital techniques. We provide bespoke learning experiences and provide them with a secure foundation to effectively move onto A level, degree level, and employment.
The Arts Curriculum is delivered initially through REAL projects in years 7. It is an integrated, project-based approach and provided by specialist subjects teachers. Students have the unique opportunity to study a one-year intensive GCSE ‘Fast track’ course in year 9 in either Art and Design, Photography, or Graphic Design. Students in Year 10 may opt for a two-year course in Art and Design, Graphic Design, Photography, or Textiles. Each Arts subject endorsement is an enriched experience where students develop practical skills in different contexts and explore other materials, processes, tools, and technologies. The aim is to spark curiosity and provide intrinsic motivation and pride in their work.
Engaging with different design contexts and materials creates highly engaged and motivated learners as they become able to explore the wider world and their place within it. We provide an environment where students are happy to take risks, ask themselves questions about their creative journey, and respond positively to both staff and their peers.
The Arts subjects naturally lend themselves to collaboration, sharing ideas, peer critiques, and debate. They embed, extend, and challenge our students’ knowledge of artistic concepts and principles along with the appropriate language for discussing works of art.
We build our students’ cultural capital by providing students with a means to engage with and understand the world around them and their relationship with it. Embedded in our curriculum is exploring and studying other artists and designers’ work from a vast spectrum of backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, and beliefs. We learn about how the world and its artifacts are represented and about the ideologies running through them. Cultural awareness is developed through creating, investigating, making, and doing. This journey gives our students a voice to express their thoughts, feelings about, and responses to the world around them.
A further rationale behind our challenging and engaging curriculum design includes building opportunities for students to experiment with 2D, 3D, Craft, Design, Photographic and digital processes in studio spaces. Students have 1:1 iPads and have access to the full ADOBE Creative suite of apps and access to a 3D printer, photographic darkroom, a maker space, ceramics, wood workshop, sewing machines and an etching press. We are continually evolving. We ensure that traditional techniques complement and inform our students’ digital awareness and skills, providing them with the skills and expertise they need in preparation for the rapidly changing world around us and their future employment.
Collaborative curriculum planning and a shared vision lie at the heart of what we do in the department. We use the PEARSON EDEXCEL examination board for GCSE entry. Our curriculum plans are reviewed regularly and are focused on embedding challenges, metacognition, literacy, and high-performance learning strategies. All students are given opportunities to explore their ideas from a set starting point. Investigations and experimentation are fundamental to success, as is the documentation of the visual journey of ideas. All Arts subjects use A3 and A4 sketchbooks or design files to record evidence of drawings, sketches, experimentation, and photographs appropriate to the Arts endorsement subject. As students progress from year 7 and 8, they often choose to work on large scale personal outcomes that may include sculptural installations, ceramics, and digital photographic ‘industry standard’ outcomes using the latest Adobe software. A mixed media approach is often the focus, yet students are also encouraged to be specific in the type of outcomes they wish to produce. Personalisation is at the heart of what we do iPads are used extensively as a digital creative learning tool. They have empowered many creative practitioners, whether through textiles pattern design, digital illustration, film and photography editing, or using a blend of apps for Graphic design and 3D printing.
Learning continues outside of the classroom with visits to galleries and museums. We have worked with the Tate Gallery St Ives, Newlyn Gallery and the Exchange, Falmouth University, Penlee House, Articulation, and the Arts Council.
We have a very buoyant uptake in all the Arts subjects. We know our curriculum is successful through the upward trend in our results and, in particular, our 9 -7 scores. (Both in year 11 and with our early entry students in year 9). Our high expectations and commitment to wanting success for our students pay off. Compared to National Averages for the Art & Design subjects, our students are consistently achieving above their peers. Departmental QA and student’s voice suggest that pupils feel that the Art and Design curriculum is suitably challenging and enjoyable and that they know how to progress in the subject and feel supported by teaching staff.
Our students enjoy their art curriculum, are motivated and often work in the art rooms beyond the school day to support their coursework. Pleasingly, many students progress to A level, degree course and employment in the creative arts sectors having had what we know to be a fantastic grounding in art and design education.