The National Curriculum for Art and Design aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences
  • become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques
  • evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design
  • know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms


In order to allow our pupils to develop their knowledge and understanding of all the strands of the National Curriculum expectations for Art we are providing a sketchbook for every pupil to provide a record of their learning and progress in Art throughout the school.




Recording Initial Responses

The sketchbook is used as an initial way of recording responses to various stimuli. The most common form of this is through drawings. The sketchbook is not the place for a final polished piece of work - the children should be encouraged to think of it as the place to practice, develop and focus their work. It should be a place where it is okay to make mistakes. Work in the sketchbook can take many forms: 

  • a place to focus on shape, to practice drawing certain features, and to gather information for use on a larger piece of work
  • to practice drawing techniques such as shading, perspective and drawing from different viewpoints
  • to record details about the item being drawn or sketched for future reference
  • The sketchbook might include sketches and drawings of ideas the children want to make

Gathering resources and materials

The sketchbook can also be used as a place to collect:

  • Photographs
  • Photocopies of art works – even of other children’s work
  • Samples of textures, fabrics, and other materials
  • Titles of music used to stimulate a response
  • Poem or stories that were used to stimulate a response; (many artists have interpreted stories and myths in their work)
  • Lists of resources that the children might need to produce a piece of artwork


Exploring media

The children can use the sketchbook as a place to keep records of their own exploration of media. The sketchbook is a good place to keep:

  • Colour strips from colour mixing;
  • Tone bars from tone work;
  • Studies of the effects of media on different types of paper;
  • Comments and notes on the use of media e.g. how to mix a certain colour or how to get a certain effect;

Where possible the children should be encouraged to comment on the media and techniques used, even at a basic level ("You smudge it with your fingers.").

Reviewing and modifying

The children can use their sketchbooks to record their thoughts on the artwork that they have produced. They can take part in a critical dialogue identifying positive features in their work and ways in which their work could be developed or improved. In its simplest form this could take the form of a list of comments (alongside a photograph or photocopy of their work) saying what they like about the picture and what they would do differently if they did it again.

Developing understanding

The sketchbook is one place in which children can compare work of art, craft and design. The children might stick in reproductions of works of art around which they could write information or comments about the piece. By laying tracing paper on top of the work children can be encouraged to write in more detail about the picture. The children can write comments and notes about the things that they have seen and their own personal reactions.

Responding to and evaluating

The children can record their responses to the ideas, methods and approaches of artists and other children in their sketchbooks. The sketchbook could be a place to compare different approaches. The sketchbook might include description of things that the children have made and notes on the actual technical processes involved.


The sketchbook use shouldn’t be limited to the confines of the classroom. It could also be taken on trips or visits to record what the children see there.