An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Art
Ard Scoil Rís
Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9
Roll number: 60420L
Date of inspection: 24 January 2007
Date of issue of report: 4 October 2007
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Art
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Ardscoil Rís, conducted as part of a whole school evaluation. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Art and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of this subject in the school. The evaluation was conducted over one during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal, deputy principal and subject teacher.
Art is offered as part of the Transition Year programme (TY) for one double period per week at Ardscoil Rís. Apart from that, Art is not on the roster of subjects studied during the timetabled school day. However, in response to local demand, a double class is offered to students with an interest in Art outside class time. This class is of one and a half hours’ duration, and students pay for it themselves. For at least three years prior to the inspection, this situation for the teaching of Art has applied at Ardscoil Rís, and during this time some students have sat the State examinations in Art in Leaving Certificate and in Art, Craft and Design in Junior Certificate.
Management is concerned that it has not to date been able to offer more extensive art and design education to students. Due to its allocation of teachers as per PTR, this has not been possible. Management is aware of, and values, the educational outcomes of art and design in the students’ development and regrets that it has been unable to offer it as a mainstream option in the school.
As there is a demand for the subject in Ardscoil Rís, and it is likely that if it were offered as a mainstream option in first year there would be a sizable group wishing to take it up, as has been the experience of other schools who have introduced art into the curriculum. The small provision for Art has been delivered by different part-time teachers in the last few years. At present great competence and professionalism is available to the school in the delivery of its minimal art programme. In the coming academic year, it is recommended that board of management and in-school management consider all possible options open to them in an effort to establish an art department to which a wide range of students would have access. The competence available to Art in school at present should be tapped for the education benefit of individual students whose interests and aptitudes are visual and creative in nature, and to enhance the breadth and balance of the curriculum offered to the school population.
A bright art room is available to the school and it has some storage and worktops. There are good work-tables for the students, and a sink. While quite basic in terms of equipment and facilities, this room could easily be pressed into service as the base for an art department.
There was very good planning documentation available for the classes visited. The TY planning was for a module of film animation, and gave a detailed picture of what students would encounter in the twelve-thirteen weeks of the module. In the planning seen, there was a good balance between the theoretical/perceptual, historical, craft and practical elements of this introduction to animation. To this it is recommended that a cultural element be added, in order to widen the students’ experience of animated film in the media, on the Web, and in commercial advertising by including a review/critique of the movement in an animated film as a homework assignment.
Planning for the junior art class was also good. There was an efficient use of the time available for teaching and learning in the construction of the year’s coursework, and logical progression of the tasks and activities was evident in the documentation. There was a laudable emphasis on working from primary sources. It was planned that students would encounter a range of media and materials as well as a variety of observational exercises, which was a strong emphasis throughout.
Preparation, always important in a practical subject, is good; there was a well-managed array of the necessary materials available for the classes inspected.
Two double class periods were inspected. The first was TY, and was during the school day. The second was a small group of first and second years; this class was called Junior Art and took place after the school day had ended.
Both of the classes seen were very well delivered. Student learning activities were well managed and time was most efficiently used. Good demonstration and clear instructions characterised the class delivery. Time was made for students’ questions and for review and discussion throughout both classes.
The junior art group of seven students were set to doing a series of drawings from observation exercises. Shoes and runners were provided as the starting point, and students drew these in a variety of graphic media. Very good instructions and advice about both the process of looking and the technical process of drawing were given. There was a very useful emphasis on the physical aspect of drawing; well thought-out communication of the subtleties of both the act of drawing and the process of seeing and observing enhanced the learning possibilities of students whilst engaged in theses activities. As a follow-through activity, it is recommended that drawings by artists such as Matisse, Delacroix, the German Expressionists and so on be accessed by the students in books or on the Web in order that the technical and artistic aspect of drawing they have encountered in class is balanced by the cultural an expressive dimension inherent in this art form.
There were good lino prints based on observational drawings on display in the art room, along with paintings and drawings. There were also some 3D pieces. Students’ work was stored in folders in presses and the classroom space was well ordered and maintained.
The junior art drawing class had review and discussion integrated into it after each section of the class was complete and this commendably included an element of assessment for learning. There were some assessment criteria included in parts of the planning document. It is recommended that assessment criteria are extended into all parts of the planning documentation and that these are used for class tests and in–house assessments.
In the last three years some students have participated in the State examinations in Art. Given that they are not following a complete programme this is a difficult undertaking for them. However, it does provide some evidence that there is a demand for Art as a mainstream subject amongst the school population.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of Art and with the principal and deputy principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.