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Personal Progress - STANDARDISATION

You cannot identify what learning has occurred unless you have clear metrics by which to measure the outcomes that pupils produce. This is easier to do when evidencing the learning of tangible skills or acquiring and retaining knowledge, but extremely difficult to do with experiential knowledge, expression, or the quality and depth of creative ideas. GCSE art and design exam boards have standardisation meetings every year where attainment at different grades is outlined across a range of competencies to ensure school centers mark in accordance with each other. 


Unfortunately, there are no national standards for the curriculum in art and design in England so there are no national guidelines to refer to, as you do in core subjects. This leaves schools with a huge void and no clear means of assessing progression in the subject.


The only solution to this problem is to create your own internal standards for the subject that are linked to your curriculum learning objectives and intent statements. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Art teachers have always standardised their pupils’ work. Before computers, we would take samples of work from a whole class set; two top, two middle, two bottom, staple the details about the project to them, and put them in a drawer to refer to later. In this way, we could use them to measure the standards of outcomes later down the line, year after year. 

These days, you can do this with a tablet very easily, then add them to folders on your schools’ shared drive. Now you might keep it simple and just have one folder per year group and put samples of drawing and painting in each one, naming them with exceeding, meeting and working towards file names. Even if you only do this, you will be creating a meaningful framework for measuring progression in your school.

Every class teacher will be able to see the standards of work in their year group and across the school. Subject leads will be able to look at a holistic picture of subject development and use it to make managerial decisions about the subject, analysing where the strengths and weaknesses of the subject are. 

Taking this one step further, however, we could relate this to our Pyramid Progression framework and have samples of Skills, Knowledge, and Creativity.  


My standardisation model is available here as a download. I’ve also linked it to the Early Years Framework learning goals. In my model, I’ve made standards for the areas of development linked to my Pyramid Progression: 

  • Skills: Accuracy and Precision 

  • Skills: Technical Proficiency (craft skills of making with the hand)

  • Knowledge of art and artists’ work 

  • Creative Expression 


Notice I haven’t stated particular art media such as drawing, painting, etc. This is because skills develop in particular ways, regardless of the materials we are using. Accuracy and precision with a pencil is not much different from accuracy and precision with a paintbrush. But expression with a pencil is a different standard to measure than precision with a pencil - they are very different beasts! 

Craft skills with the hand contain a huge swathe of skills such as twisting, bending, forming and shaping, etc. I have grouped these into Technical Proficiency for ease of reference. I wouldn’t expect teachers to identify every aspect of them, just to be aware of this standard as a whole. 

I’ve also included my Knowledge and Creativity targets too, but again, I wouldn’t expect each facet of these to be featured in the standards model; keep it as simple as you can. I hope you can also see that I’ve created a simple overview of these standards; in visual and text form. What this should provide every teacher with is a strong frame of reference, a really helpful guide to teaching art that will show them what they should teach and to what standard. 

Full permission to use these images was gained from the creators. Credit to the author is given below the images.

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Drawing Skills Standards

I've also done a standards model for drawing skills. Now remember, in my progression guide I outline that drawing has three areas of progression:

1. Skills

2. Expression

3. Purpose

So we should ideally have visual evidence of what each of these three strands looks like in our standards guide. In these images, I can only show you the skills progression, because I'm not working in schools these days and I received these wonderful images of skills strands from Hannah Davies and the teachers of St Mary's and St Peter's Primary School in Teddington 

Please remember, that drawing expressively & creatively is just as important and also needs evidencing. Hannah's school has much more evidence of progression than this. Download this drawing progression here.

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Paul Carney Paul is a nationally recognised art & design consultant having delivered specialist art CPD in schools, colleges, galleries, and Universities across the UK and for the UK’s leading training providers. He is a former Council member for the NSEAD, which means he is involved in national art education policy issues.Paul is a published author of two books: Drawing for Science, Invention and Discovery and his latest book Drawing to learn anything. He is also a practicing professional artist and designer. Paul runs his highly successful art website: that provides high quality teaching resources and advice to teachers around the world. He has over twenty years teaching experience at Primary, Secondary and post-16 levels of education, is an Advanced Skills Teacher, ex-Subject Leader for Art and was a member of the DfE Expert Advisory Group for Art and Design. In addition to this he was a member of the NSEAD Curriculum Writing Group that wrote the 'Framework for Progression, Planning for Learning, Assessment, Recording and Reporting 2014.’ 

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