Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by The Harley Gallery

The Harley Art Framework is a resource designed to support teaching art in primary school. It provides developmental guidelines and art lesson ideas across the 3 to 11 age range (5-11 is hosted here). It may also be useful to others interested and involved in art education, including carers, parents and extracurricular group leaders.

Each chapter in this learning story has a corresponding download available and this is linked to at the bottom of chapter. All downloads are available as individual documents from the Resources section and also as one combined document.


Curriculum Links

  • KS1 Art & Design
  • KS2 Art & Design

'The Lift Off Project has been instrumental in helping us improve the skills of our staff in teaching art and it has also meant that children have an excellent art curriculum, that teaches them the skills they need to enjoy creating their own work. Children also have a broader understanding of art and they appreciate the work of their peers and other artists. The benefit of being part of the project will be experienced for many years to come'.
George Huthart, Headteacher Norbridge Academy

The approach is based on a simple idea:
Art is a Visual Language

It has its own equivalent of words and grammar. In the case of art these are visual qualities. The ones being emphasised in the Harley Art Framework are Line, Shape, Form, Structure, Colour, Pattern, Texture, Proportion, Scale and Space.

The aims of the Framework are:

  • To provide the opportunity to experience the enjoyment of making and understanding of art in its many different forms.
  • To develop children’s imagination, skills, knowledge and understanding through the experience of making art for its own sake and as a support for other curriculum areas.
  • To help children develop their personal values and opinions and to highlight the diversity and richness of human cultures.

The Art Framework is built around the two activities: Making Art and Understanding Art

Throughout the framework theory and practice go hand in hand. Making art is developed by doing it. It offers visual and tactile experiences through which children can express and communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings.

It’s important to remember that in art there are usually many ‘right’ answers and it is the aim of the teacher to encourage imagination and diversity. This does not mean that all answers are equal but that evaluating them requires making qualitative judgements.

It is also important to remember that you can learn and develop through making mistakes. Understanding art is developed by experiencing it. It introduces children to look at, think, and talk about different forms of art.

Art is a subject in its own right and has its own body of knowledge:

  • Visual qualities
  • Knowledge of media, materials, tools, techniques and processes
  • Mastery of unique skills
  • Use of specific techniques and processes
  • Familiarity with the cultural heritage of ourselves and others, both historic and contemporary.


Teaching art can be approached in two ways:

  • As an activity in its own right
  • As a support activity for other curriculum areas

The ability to make and understand visual images and models can be transferred to many other areas of the curriculum. Children will have a more positive attitude to art as a subject if they find that visual thinking, communication and making are important and used in many other subject areas.

The Framework is not prescriptive. It is best thought of as a tool, a resource of art lesson ideas and an aid to planning and understanding. Each chapter is self contained, and is accompanied by a detailed information pack which you can find in the resources section.

'The Lift Off Framework is an excellent resource for schools who have a rich arts culture and also for those schools who want to develop one. This resource for staff is an accessible and comprehensive way to develop staff understanding of the theory and progression of skills in visual art'.
Nettie Scriven, The Mighty Creatives Artsmark Consultant