FUN DOWN TO A FINE ART! Education ECHO School of the Week in Association with the Academy of St Francis of Assisi

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Turner

LIKE most schools Dovecot Primary school has got a visitors' book.

But whether it is Santa Claus or the headteacher coming through its doors the school has asked all its visitors to mark their stay through the medium of art.

Hanging in one of the multi-coloured school's corridors is what can best be described as a modern day version of a Lowry painting.

The centrepiece of the metre wide painting is an uncanny depiction of the school.

But it's the tiny caricatures that really catch the eye.

The school thought it would be a nice touch to ask visitors to bring the picture to life by picking up a brush and painting themselves.

Headteacher Alison Whittaker has done an impressive self portrait while others range from a local fireman to a morris dancer.

Mrs Whittaker said: "Even Father Christmas drew a picture of himself on the roof."

This is a colourful example of the school's love of art which touches all areas of the curriculum.

Mrs Whittaker said: "When people walk into the school we want there to be a 'wow factor'. I really hope that is the case.

"The last headteacher Gill Jones placed an importance on art; she set the standard and I wanted it continue.

"Like other schools we have focused on raising standards in areas including reading, writing and maths but it would be very easy to forget about the creative side.

"We are determined not to which is why we use art, not just in single lessons here and there, but in events such as Art Week which really allows the children to master and build on skills whether its sketching or studying artefacts."

Art week as you can imagine is a colourful, creative, fun and messy affair. But it has a serious side with the artwork linked to topics different classes are studying.

The Fab Four have even played a part.

Mrs Whittaker added: "Year 4 pupils have been doing a project about Liverpool and have looked at The Beatles and the city's culture.

"They are making a huge wall painting based on the Sgt Pepper album, it will be in the same style as the cover but with the children's faces . "They are also making a papier mache Yellow Submarine."

Like all art produced here the school will celebrate the pupils' efforts and the Beatles-inspired pieces will take pride of place in the school hall.

In Year 3 they have made mosaics for a topic on the Romans.

Mrs Whittaker said: "They don't just do a mosaic, they learn the technique behind it and every topic helps them with these different skills."

Professional artists are also regular visitors to the school and the school doubles as an art gallery with children's work in all corners of the building, ranging from feet painting to a rather frightening Cyclops yards from its entrance.

And if pupils do not let out a gasp on their return to school after the holidays something has gone wrong.

Mrs Whittaker added: "It is great in the summer holidays carefully working out where to put the artwork.

"The pupils usually do a double take and cannot believe how professional it looks.

"We think if pupils appreciate art it makes them more empathetic. creative and imaginative.

"But art is also great for teamwork and it's fun, messy and exciting."

And the art emphasis is also credited for helping the school's record attendance.

Mrs Whittaker said: "Pupils want to come here."

HeadLines STAYING back after class today is Alison Whittaker, headteacher at Dovecot Primary School Name: Alison Whittaker.

Title: Headteacher.

Time in post: Almost a year.

Three key aims for 2012: Improve standards; create a reading school where children are surrounded by books; promote our school and children's achievements. …