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S1 E7 - Subject Leaders - Monitoring, Assessing Learning and Assessment in Art with Chris Mann

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

The Subject Leaders Podcast -from Aidan Severs Consulting Ltd S1 E7 - Monitoring, Assessing Learning and Assessment in Art with Chris Mann

In this, the 7th episode of The Subject Leaders Podcast, Chris Mann, an English and Art primary subject leader, answers the following questions:

  • How can subject leaders ensure that the monitoring activities they carry out are worthwhile?

  • What is the purpose of assessment and how should learning be assessed?

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Below you can find the transcript for this episode of The Subject Leaders Podcast:


Aidan: So, good morning. It could be afternoon, depending, it could be evening whenever people are listening. So tell us a bit about who you are.

Chris: Hi, Aidan. Yes, thanks for having us. So, my name is Chris Man, I'm a primary school teacher, have been for ten years now, and I work in a two form entry primary school, and I wear so many different hats at the minute, as a lot of people do. So currently I am both literacy and art subject lead at my school, but I have been different subject leads as well. Before I've been computing subject lead, I'm an ECT tutor at the minute, several Ects at our school, I'm a cluster leader for our year sixes because I teach year six. So I've got 13 schools in our local area that we meet with and I'm the lead writing moderator for Stockport as well. So many hats.

Aidan: As is the way. As is the way. So, would you consider art to be your subject specialism? If not, what is it and what are your favourite subjects to teach?

Chris: I would say it's not my subject specialism, namely because English language and literature and creative writing is where a lot of my higher education was focused on. So I studied language, literature and creative writing at University of East Anglia and that is where my specialism comes from. So, in my role as literacy leader, and as I said with the other hats that I'm wearing in regards to literacy, writing, grammar, etcetera, that is where I'm passionate about and have the most amount of expertise, I feel. But art has always been a hobby, has always been an area that I've pursued and enjoyed from a very early age, so I feel like it's a great one to have that passion about. It's normally one that when teachers I know have been given art and I'm currently training up our ECT teacher at school to take over the role soon, and their initial reaction, along with others, is, I'm not very good at art, I don't like art. How am I supposed to lead this subject that I know nothing about? So I'm quite privileged to be able to have the hobby aspect of it that I can use to help give that passion to others as well. But, yeah, literacy is my main focus. Art is definitely a hobby, but I'm enjoying leading that and supporting the training of new subject leaders with that as well.

Aidan: Yeah, it's often the case, isn't it, that primary subject leaders aren't necessarily leading a subject that they have expertise in, maybe sometimes even that they don't have any interest in as well. And in that case, as some of my other guests have talked about, there's a bit of work to be done around developing your own subject knowledge. So if the curriculum were being slimmed down, which subject would you fight hard to keep?

Chris: I would really fight hard, and perhaps this is my bias, but with art, actually, it is easily forgotten easily. The first thing that if there isn't a clear curriculum or progression plan within a school can quite easily get kicked to the side. But it's more than just art. It's more than just producing great sculpture, painting or drawing. It's the skills that children need to help them when they're facing anything, any sort of challenges. It's the problem solving aspect. It's being reflective as a learner. It's taking criticism and how to use that to move forwards. There's so many extra elements that allows children to access, rather than just the curriculum areas of art. So I would fight tooth and nail for that to stay as part of a vital part of the curriculum.

Aidan: Yeah, me too. I'm an art specialist, really. I did my degree in art and so on. But I think there's probably another couple of subjects that would probably fight for that title of the one quickly kicked to the curb. I think there's DT is perhaps one of them, maybe even languages. I think RE may have used to have been one, but I think it does pretty well these days. But yeah, there's always one or two that really have to fight hard for their time in the school day. One more question before we move on to your three questions that are very specific to you. What do you love about being a subject leader?

Chris: I love seeing the impact that your subject has on the children and how you can, if you lead a subject well and support teachers in delivering that subject in their own year groups, in their own context, it's a very tangible feel of change around school. You can do drop ins, you can look at book flicks, but actually, if you speak to the children about that subject, it's just such a joy to see them showing that passion, them showing that enthusiasm, the motivation. And at the end of the day, what we're here for is that reaction from the children, allowing them to see, wow, this is maybe something that was never my strongest subject. Perhaps it was a subject that I didn't enjoy or I tried to keep my head down a bit, or maybe I acted out a little bit when I did this subject. But some of those children, the most powerful things throughout my career, no matter what subject I've led, that has always been the biggest, the best, most powerful thing as a subject leader is just seeing the impact of changes that you're making within that subject with the children.

Aidan: Great. Yeah, we're going to get into that a bit more now, I think, because we're going to talk in this episode about subject leadership and assessment particularly. And I think it's nice that you've been able to talk about talking to children outside of assessment as well, because we will talk to them for assessment purposes, but just for that getting that sense of joy that you talked about hearing all those positive things from them. That just give you a sense that you're doing a good job as a subject leader.

How can subject leaders ensure that the monitoring activities they carry out are worthwhile?

What is the purpose of assessment and how should learning be assessed?

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