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Art at Coleridge

ART – Concept Story

At Coleridge, we understand the necessity of providing children with opportunities to revisit previous learning, committing knowledge to their long-term memories. In order for this to happen in art, we have carefully considered the concepts and knowledge that children will be taught and how these will be revisited and built upon each year, from EYFS through to Year 6.

How do key concepts work?

If you compare to key concepts in science, you may teach, for example, about nutrition. Over the course of a key stage, you might study nutrition in different ways, the life cycle, plant nutrition, animal nutrition etc. If you constantly refer children back to the key concept of nutrition, they can see how all these different processes link together and see that, whilst very different from organism to organism, they all share common purposes.

Similarly in art, the same concepts crop up repeatedly; by linking several ways in which the same theme has been tackled over time, we are teaching deeper understanding of art.

What are our concepts?

Key concepts in art are groups or categories of concrete or abstract ideas and things to create a deeper, shared understanding. Key concepts are like the roots of a tree – they are what the learning is grown from; they keep the learning upright and stable and anchor it to the ground.

In our art curriculum, we have categorised the concepts into primary key concepts, supplementary key concepts and integral concepts, with the latter being referred to during most units of work. The formal elements of art are known as our key concepts (primary and supplementary) that are taught through each block of learning, across the different mediums being taught and developed each year: Colour, Pattern, Texture, Line, Shape, Form and Space. These key concepts are the formal elements of art, and are the building blocks of any work of art. When we analyse any work of art, we analyse these elements to see how they combine to create the overall effect of the artwork. Formal elements can be both practical and theoretical, and it isn’t necessary to be able do both to understand them. When we analyse any drawing, painting, sculpture or design, we examine these component parts to see how they combine to create the overall effect of the artwork.

These elements have a relationship to one another:

  • Most images begin their life as line drawings.
  • Lines cross over one another to form shapes.
  • Shapes can be filled with tone and colour, or repeated to create pattern.
  • A shape may be rendered with a rough surface to create a texture.
  • A shape may be projected into three dimensions to create form.

Each of the elements may also be used individually to stress their own particular character in an artwork. More information on the formal elements can be found here:,blocks%20of%20composition%20in%20art.&text=The%20Visual%20Elements%20are,blocks%20of%20composition%20in%20art

The table below outlines how the primary and supplementary key concepts have been mapped out within our art curriculum:

In addition to the key concepts outlined above, we have our integral concepts, which are taught and referred to within the majority of art units at Coleridge. Source, style, movement & periods and themes are introduced from KS1; observation and reflection (along with the key concepts above) are introduced from Foundation Stage. An explanation of these concepts is outlined below: