An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Art
Newbridge, County Kildare
Roll number: 61680T
Date of inspection: 13 May 2008
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Art
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Newbridge College. 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 day 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 and subject teachers. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.
The work of the art department is highly valued by the principal for the contribution it makes to the personal, academic, and artistic development of students and to the cultural life of the school. Public spaces in the school have recently been assigned as exhibition venues for both temporary and permanent display of students’ artefacts. Giving it a very visible role in the dining and public assembly areas generally has developed the profile of art in the school, and this has done much to give artistic learning and cultural engagement a dynamic whole-school profile.
Two full time art teachers deliver a range of courses and programmes in art. The department is well funded and students’ learning opportunities include a good range of crafts and 3D media. Timetabling has provided a good time allowance, which supports the subject.
Spatially, the art department consists of two large classrooms and a materials store room. Both are well lit. There is good provision of general equipment and materials, as well as materials for a range of crafts. Some further development of shelves and cupboards in the art rooms is suggested, as this would add to the organisational facilities available there, supporting the management of students’ artefacts. An extractor hood is in situ in one of the art rooms; when resources and opportunity become available, it is recommended that facilities for art metalwork/jewellery making be installed beneath it in order to put more of the specialist skills of the art teachers at the disposal of students. Development of metal-based crafts would extend state-examination choices and enrich and diversify Transition Year (TY) art and design activities in the long term.
In order to further enhance use of available space and to maximise the classroom for circulation, hands-on use of facilities and display, it is recommended that storage space be provided for artefacts, archives, state examinations’ projects, as well as resources not in current use, elsewhere in the school whenever opportunity allows.
An example of the importance the principal attaches to the presence of art in the school buildings and to visual culture in the life of the students is that class groups are producing artefacts for the school’s own art collection. Management is highly commended for instigating such an initiative. It is recommended that the school’s Dominican tradition be used sometimes as a source for artefacts produced for long-term exhibition in the school. It is suggested that the dual hagiography of St.Hubert/St.Eustace, much used in European art imagery, and featured on the school’s crest be explored. A further development of the school’s Dominican inheritance would be to focus on the work of DOM Henry Flanagan, who taught in the school and was himself a notable artist and an artistic inspiration to many students.
Further elaboration of the excellent whole-school support for the art department and for the promotion of engagement with visual culture could perhaps be brought about by liasing with the arts officer of Kildare County Council in relation to schemes and initiatives such as visits, projects, and talks by artists and film-makers. Newbridge past-pupils from art, design or architecture careers might be enlisted to revisit their alma mater to speak about their metier to students, bringing in a vocational context that would enhance other good work done by the art department, and act as a motivator for students.
The two art teachers collaborate on the running of the department and on planning. A documented plan has been developed for the subject. The current planning document is good and would be further enhanced by the inclusion of desired learning outcomes for skill-based assignments. There should be an emphasis in planning for artistic, perceptual and aesthetic development of students, as well as for content.
A further development of the current planning document would be that learning aims and desired student outcomes be added to all the planned activities, and that these be differentiated for students of high aptitude and motivation and for their peers who might be challenged by the work and lack motivation as a result. As the class groupings are mixed ability, some planning for differentiated learning could valuably be integrated into the documentation. Information related to differentiation teaching techniques is available on the website of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) at www.ncca.ie.
Planning for the subject is good, thorough, practical and collaborative. In the planning documents, there is ample evidence of the type of approach taken in the delivery of the programmes, and of the blocks of time available for these. Future planning needs to emphasise further development of computer usage for delivery of class materials and student exploration of information and communication technology (ICT) for both the information sourcing and expressive aspects of art and design.
The well-managed classrooms of the art department had an informal and positive atmosphere, with students nonetheless attending purposefully to their assignments. Students were articulate and enthusiastic, and spoke easily about their artistic intentions and experiences. Displays of students’ artefacts, art posters and other learning materials created a backdrop which enhanced this good learning atmosphere. Some students in the lessons observed had special learning needs; these were met in an inclusive and appropriate way. Classrooms were arranged to accommodate wheelchair use. The particular needs of all students were accommodated within that of their class group. Students have benefited from the opportunities given to them to learn art and design skills, to experience art and to develop ideas visually. They may [d1] participate in co-curricular trips to museums and galleries which extend and amplify their contact with art and design in a wider context.
It was apparent from students’ current and archived work that there was good development of the skills required to be competent in both the perceptual and artistic aspects of art and design.
Enlightened and proactive management support for the art department has ensured that students are benefiting from the art and design learning opportunities provided by the school. The subject is supported by good-sized classroom spaces and well-arranged and managed facilities. A professional and well-structured approach to the delivery of art courses, programmes, and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is in place in the art department. Professionalism and enthusiasm combine to enhance all aspects of course delivery and student support in the art department.
Use of public spaces in the school building recently extended and strengthened art and design’s whole-school profile. Students now have exhibition spaces and this is a motivating and inspiring influence. Group work on projects for the school building was seen being constructed and rich collaborative learning was in evidence. The very good organisation of these group projects is commended, particularly the one based on non-European visual cultures. There is an impressive level of support for students with special and additional learning needs provided in the art department. The range of crafts currently practised provides ample opportunity for student self expression, and these are a strength of the department. It is recommended that the introduction of new crafts such as art, metalwork and jewellery making be considered and that planning to provide the necessary physical resources to support such an initiative take place
2D and 3D aspects of art and design learning were well-balanced and there was good coverage of the fundamentals, as well as the Art Elements, and drawing skills. It is recommended that, in order to build upon and enrich current good practice, the use of ICT be further developed for delivering class materials, extending contact with art, design and architecture, and for developing students’ personal enthusiasms in visual culture. It is also recommended that the appreciation of art component of the Leaving Certificate be taught first thing in fifth year, as a block. This is to allow students to develop aesthetic awareness and perceptual skills that will support the study of the history of art at a later stage.
Several assessment procedures are used in combination throughout the academic year in the art department, including continuous assessment based on class work, mock projects and invigilated examinations. There are written examinations for the history and appreciation of art component of the Leaving Certificate course. Homework is set, corrected and monitored. Levels of achievement in the state examinations are good and consciousness of the assessment criteria of the State Examinations Commission (SEC), and of the associated practical requirements, informs the work of the art department, and the assessment procedures and criteria used throughout the year. There are systematic records of students’ during-term, end-of-term, and end-of-year assessment/examination results. End-of-term and end-of-year results are sent to parents and guardians. All year groups have parent-teacher meetings regularly at which the art department provides discussion, feedback and advice which supports student learning and attainment.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· Enlightened and proactive management support for the art department is evident.
· The subject is supported by good classroom spaces and well-arranged and managed facilities.
· Students are benefiting from the art and design learning opportunities provided by the school.
· A professional and well-structured approach to the delivery of art courses, programmes, and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is in place in the art department.
· Planning is ongoing in the art department.
· Professionalism and enthusiasm combine to enhance all aspects of course delivery and student support in the art department.
· Art has a recently extended and strengthening whole-school profile.
· Impressive levels of support for students with special and additional learning needs are provided in the art department.
· Group work was well managed, varied and full of highly rich learning experiences for students.
· 2D and 3D aspects of art and design learning were well balanced.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· It is recommended that management and teachers plan together so that the skills and expertise of art department personnel that are not at present in use, or in as full a use as could be, can, over time be integrated into teaching and learning practices.
· It is recommended that the good practice seen in current planning be developed further.
· Inclusion of more extensive learning aims and objectives in the planning documents for students of high aptitude and motivation and for students who, for whatever reason, are challenged by course requirements is recommended.
· It is recommended that the introduction of new crafts such as art metalwork and jewellery making be considered and that planning to provide the necessary physical resources to support such an initiative take place.
· It is recommended that ICT be further integrated into in the delivery of history and appreciation of art at senior cycle and support studies at junior cycle, and for the delivery of class materials in the practical areas also.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Art and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published October 2008