Art & Design

The school has a dynamic Art department offering the subject to all ages and abilities, personalising creative experiences to meet individual needs. The department is headed by Kath Hitchings, who is also a freelance community artist: We work in close partnership with the Media, Dance and Pottery teachers. The Arts Team are constantly striving to maintain outstanding provision in this area.

Kath is a National Award winning Art teacher She is also a Specialist Leader in Education, as appointed by the St Polycarp’s Federation in 2019. This means Kath offers support and advice by way of courses and consultation in Art and Design and SEN. Kath has a strong track record in course facilitation and conference speaking; she has also helped students gain success in national awards, both in 2016 and 2019.

Kath works alongside Esther Parmour, full time Art HLTA, and the current Artist in Residence. The Artist in Residence is an annual appointment, which has proven to impact on learning across the school and college. Now in its 5th year, we have hosted a diverse range of art practitioners, such as weavers, sculptors and musicians. Kath has spoken about the residency at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Arts Society and The National NASS Headteacher’s conference.

Art is either taught by the class teacher as part of a broader curricular approach, as a discrete subject by Kath Hitchings and Esther Parmour, or in individual 1:1 sessions by the Art Teacher and Artist in Residence. The Arts Policy enables students with a wide range of learning difficulties to access the National Curriculum and their entitlement to the Arts at the appropriate level. The Arts within any school provide a powerful vehicle for self-expression and communication, but in a school for students with learning difficulties they have a particularly vital role to play:

“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way… things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe, American Artist.

It is important to understand the differences between the job of the Art teachers, the Artist in residence and the Art therapist who also works within the Trust. Whilst there is some inevitable overlap between these professions, they do perform very distinctive roles: The Art teachers’ lessons have specific learning objectives and outcomes, operating within the teaching standards framework. The Artist in residence leads students by example, show casing their particular expertise enabling a much more open and experimental approach than the art teacher, towards the creative end-goal. The Art therapist uses the process of self-expression, and the resulting artwork to help students therapeutically. This is an excellent partnership, and there has been concrete evidence of the success of these disciplines working together, for the benefit of the young people.

We are in the process of applying for the Platinum Status of the Arts Mark and continue to take many of our students through the Arts Award Qualification. This is on top of offering GCSE and WJEC Art and Design. As part of show casing the Arts Award activities, we hold regular events planned for sharing with parents and the wider community. We have very strong links with both The Arts Society and Cranleigh Arts Centre and regularly seek opportunities to bring new Arts experiences to our students. Annually, during October, we hold an Arts Week, inviting sculptors, actors, animators and graffiti artists to visit to work with and inspire our young people, and this is to name just a few!