Sarah Shalgosky, Associate Lecturer, History of Art, University of Warwick and Curator of the Mead Gallery writes

Proposal to Art Friends Warwickshire for a new ‘Making Paintings’ programme for Primary Schools

We recognised that many primary school teachers are not confident in discussing, making or teaching art. We think it’s important that children’s experience of the visual arts at this critical foundation stage is inspirational and provides a firm foundation for a lifetime’s interest in art.

The National Curriculum lists what pupils should learn:

• to use a range of materials creatively to design and make products

• to use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas,

experiences and imagination

• to develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern,

texture, line, shape, form and space

• to know about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers,

describing the differences and similarities between different practices and

disciplines, and making links to their own work.

We recognise the need to layer content over this skeleton, helping teachers to discuss and make art. We have devised a programme that invites a small group of teachers to work with us and with experienced artists, to design a curriculum-led resource for engagement with painting by primary schools. We aim that our specialist knowledge of the artform, the artists’ experience of making paintings and the teachers’ experience of curriculum delivery results in high-quality resources that enable fantastic learning and creativity. We will use our summer exhibition of abstract painting as the site for this work, building an open studio in the gallery itself for use by schools as well as other visitors.

Our education programmes target schools in three particularly disadvantaged areas of Coventry: Canley (CV4), Foleshill (CV6), Hillfields (CV1). We aim to pilot our new resources with four schools in our target areas, inviting artists to work with the young people and their teachers. After evaluation, we will upload our new curriculum and lesson plans to create an inspirational digital resource that is freely available on our website and will enthuse, embolden and support teachers, home  educators, parents and pupils alike. We aim to write up the project for an academic journal to give it greater visibility among the art education community.