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. It may also be useful to others interested and involved in art education, including carers, parents and extracurricular group leaders.

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: THAT 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.

Each of the sections in the contents list is self-contained. Throughout the framework, the term art also encompasses craft and design.

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 of MAKING ART and UNDERSTANDING ART.


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.

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

Click on the images below to download the separate chapters and build your own bespoke pack.


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.

In loving memory of Professor Ken Baynes

Ken and his partner, Krysia have worked with The Harley Gallery for many years, developing exhibitions and art activities for children of all ages. Their input has been invaluable and, they have worked tirelessly to help us offer our visitors the highest-quality learning experiences, through educational resources for schools and curated exhibitions designed with children in mind. Ken was fun-loving and a true inspiration. His belief in the importance of creativity in children’s education and development has shaped and determined our Learning Programme.


Graphic Design: Slave Design
Funding: The John Hemmingway Trust
Design and Education Consultants: Brochocka Baynes

With special thanks to the staff of Norbridge Academy, Worksop, who have acted as a  sounding board for the project and have tested many of the art lesson ideas and activities in the Lift Off Framework.