School Art: What's in it? Exploring visual arts in secondary schools

Dick Downing, Ruth Watson

18 November 2004

Based on interviews with 54 teachers in 18 schools and their descriptions of 64 art modules, this book explores the content of the secondary school art curriculum and why it looks the way it does. Commissioned by Arts Council England in association with Tate, it examines the range of approaches taken by different teachers and schools and asks whether there is a place for contemporary art practice.

The research sought to address three main objectives:

  • to portray the salient contents and foci of ‘school art’ at key stages 3 and 4, including a depiction of any programmes involving contemporary art practice
  • to identify factors and strategies that inhibit or facilitate the inclusion of contemporary art practice in the school curriculum
  • to explore the potential of contemporary art practice to make a distinctive contribution to the art curriculum and pupils’ learning.

Its findings, and the questions that they raise, will be of interest to anyone teaching art, those training to do so, artists, gallery educators and people interested in the future of visual culture in this country.