Moving Forward…

With the start of the new academic year, I have been reflecting on the year that has passed. It was a year unlike any other for a number of reasons, and felt I needed to particularly reflect on my achievements and the achievements of my faculty and pupils.

Alternative approaches to Art

Last year Art and Photography took on a different perspective, ranging from coding Art and Photography to using digital drawing on Photography.

As an Apple Distinguished School, we have a focus on the integration of technology within our lessons. Digital drawing has been an area of development that has been a focus within our faculty, especially the development of the app Concepts (@conceptsapp). The sixth form have used it across subject areas for the last two years, but this year was the first time my Photography pupils have really embraced the app. It started with Laila in Year 13, where she explored urban fashion photography and was inspired by the artist Dela Deso. This in turn inspired Seren in Year 12, to develop her surrealist project with inspiration from Deso. It has allowed pupils to use drawing skills within the subject, with interesting and exciting outcomes! This is an area that I will continue to encourage within the subject, particularly for sketching concepts for shoots as well as manipulating images.

As well as developing the app with Sixth Form, Year 9 and Year 7 have also been engaging with the app within their Digital Design lessons with myself and Year 7 Digital Design Club after school with our student, Abbie Keen (@AKeenDT).

Year 9 have been using the app to create digital drawings of sweets inspired by the artist Sarah Graham. The pupils took photos using their iPads of compositions that they created with sweets and then used these to develop their own digital artwork. Pupils love this task, it has engaged those pupils who do not usually have an interest in the subject.

Year 7 have almost become obsessed with drawing on their iPads this year. They have fully engaged with the technology that is available to them and have taken advantage of every opportunity given to them to develop their digital drawing skills. I have been blown away by the progress they have made in a year and it excites me to see what these pupils will be creating by the time they reach GCSE. As well as developing and drawing their own Google Doodles within digital drawing, they have been creating logos and illustrations within after school club. This particular year group have engaged with the technology but have also been able to make cross curricular links independently. They have chosen to use the Concepts app in other subjects, such as English, when they have been required to draw things for projects, they have chosen to use this media over traditional media, they appreciate they can create more realistic outcomes for specific tasks. Some may worry about traditional skills being lost, this is not the case, the pupils continue to strive to develop their traditional skills also, they just have a passion for creating art work in any form!  There is an emphasis on digital drawing within the Year 8 scheme of learning, I have a feeling that there will be a level of work created that we haven’t experienced before this year!



Year 8 have excelled themselves this year also with their digital self portraits inspired by Michael Craig-Martin. Pupils created gifs of their portraits, inspired by the colour digital portraits by Michael Craig-Martin. This task is a good example of the redefinition of a task as a result of technology. We could never have created a piece of work like this before the implementation of the iPad. The pupils enjoy the process and it provides them with an alternative perspective to art!

My approach to developing art on the iPad, lead to me facilitating a session on art on the iPad at Newport’s Apple RTC. Mat Pullen (@mat6453), the RTC manager invited me to share our work at St. Cyres School and provide other teachers with the knowledge to create art on the iPad with their own classes. This was an amazing opportunity, that allowed me to impart my knowledge with others. I’m a strong believer in sharing practice and was thrilled by the response to the task!

The new academic year is filled with so many new opportunities! Our school is having a new iPad roll out, which means pupils will have the ability to use the Apple Pencil with their devices. This will allow them to enhance their skills further. They will also be able to use their drawing skills within Keynote and create animations, they can collaborate due to their increased storage space on the iCloud. Watch this space to see the developments of our pupils!

Striving for Outstanding!

This year I have had the opportunity to attend the Olevi Outstanding Teacher Programme that was facilitated at Treorchy Comprehensive School. This was the most informative and transformative CPD that I have ever attended. It allowed me to reflect on my practice and learn so much from other educators. As a result of this programme, I feel that I have become a better teacher, I have a deeper understanding of learning and my pupils needs. It has reinvigorated my passion for education! Later in the year, I then attended a 3 day Programme to become an Olevi OTP Facilitator with my colleague Richard Hopkin (@HopkinTeach). The facilitator programme has has given me an insight into developing the practice of others as well as my own, and has provided me with the tools to facilitate my own lessons and develop independent learning with my pupils.

This coming year will see myself and Richard facilitating the OTP and ITP within our school, and will hopefully have a positive impact on Teaching and Learning across all faculties.

During the summer term, the faculty of Art, Design and Technology took a Field Trip to the Apple Store in Cardiff with a focus of developing staff competencies with Apple apps such as Keynote and iMovie. Big Rich, our super helpful facilitator guided us through different elements of the apps, providing staff with the opportunity to learn new functions and apply them to their classroom practice. The field trip was invaluable and provided staff with a new confidence using apps they were not very familiar with!


STEAMing Ahead!

As you will see from previous blogs, I have been developing coding within Art during after school clubs. The pupils engaged with this approach and were attending two after school sessions with myself, Ben Partridge (@BenPartridgeBTP) and Head of Faculty, Damian Parker (@CyresDT). The pupils enthusiasm lead to myself, Damian and our colleague Richard developing a Year 6 Transition Day like no other! Our Year 9 pupils helped us to facilitate a day specifically focussing on coding with Spheros. This allowed us to develop greater links within our community of schools and develop an understanding of the iPads with the Year 6 Pupils that would be joining us this September. This was a valuable experience for us and our pupils and is definitely something we will be looking to develop going forward. You can find out more about our day through the following tweets:

New Year…

This year is going to be another progressive year, with new developments and new focuses. I have taken on a new role of Deputy Director of Faculty and will be facilitating the OTP within school, which means I already have new challenges facing me. However, there are few personal challenges I have set myself. Firstly, to publish an iBook on assessment with the iPads, which hopefully will be available on the Apple iBook Store tomorrow. Secondly, to apply for Apple Distinguished Educator Status 2019, this is something I would personally love to achieve as I feel I could learn a lot from this community. Thirdly, to continue to develop new approaches and refine established strategies within my subject area. Over the last few years I have continually experimented with new approaches to assessment, art work and delivery of lessons. This is something that I aim to continue throughout this year.

  1. Publish iBook on Assessment
  2. Apply for ADE 2019
  3. Develop strategies within Art & Photography
  4. Utilise new features with pupils on their new iPads
  5. Develop digital drawing further
  6. Continue to learn from others

Watch this space for future developments…. and twitter…… @MrsHilltoutArt

Highlights of 2017-2018





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