Judge Heath Lane, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 2PD

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The policy documents how we teach our children expressive arts and design at McMillan Early Childhood Centre. Expressive Art and Design is a Specific Area of Learning.

The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.

‘The development of children’s artistic and cultural awareness supports their imagination and creativity. It is important that children have regular opportunities to engage with the arts, enabling them to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. The quality and variety of what children see, hear and participate in is crucial for developing their understanding, self-expression, vocabulary and ability to communicate through the arts. The frequency, repetition and depth of their experiences are fundamental to their progress in interpreting and appreciating what they hear, respond to and observe.

Curriculum Intent

 Expressive Arts and Design fosters imagination, curiosity, creativity, cognition, critical thinking, and experimentation and provides opportunities to improvise, collaborate, interact, and engage in sustained shared thinking. Expression conveys both thinking (ideas) and feeling (emotion).

 Children use a variety of ways to express and communicate, through music, movement and a wide range of materials. Creative thinking involves original responses, not just copying or imitating existing artworks It requires time, space, and opportunities to re-visit and reflect on experiences. Multi-sensory, first-hand experiences help children to connect and enquire about the world. Appreciating diversity and multiple perspectives enriches ways of thinking, being, and understanding. Skills are learned in the process of meaning-making, not in isolation

Creativity plays a significant role in thinking and understanding across all seven areas of learning. If children’s thoughts and feelings are sought and valued and they are encouraged to decide for themselves how best to represent their ideas, explore possibilities, make new connections and solve problems, they are developing the skills for life-long learning and confidence in themselves, both as thinkers and as learners. 



The curriculum is planned for and delivered through the planning by identifying two aspects of expressive arts and design

  • Creating with materials
  • Being imaginative and expressive.

Our curriculum enables children to develop:

  • Imagination and creativity
  • Self-expression
  • Communicating through art

What does teaching of Expressive Arts and Design look like at McMillan?

The role of a practitioner:

  • Engaging in a shared sustained thinking approach will enable children and adults to learn together. Carefully tuned interaction with skilful adults makes a difference all the time – when supporting children engaged in their play or other child-initiated activities, and also in adult-led activities. Through tuning in to the child’s thinking and working together to find the links to what is already known, the skilful adult can provide a bridge as the child steps into new ideas.
  • Recognising the importance of not having an end goal in mind so children are able to gain knowledge about materials in order to create with them. When adults plan experiences with particular learning objectives in mind, it is important to remember that learning occurs when a child makes sense of information and links ideas to existing understanding.
  • Direct instruction of material with no meaningful link in the mind of the child is likely to result at best in a shallow recall, without the child being able to use the knowledge. Instead, adults can support the way a young child learns. Starting with information from physical, real-world experiences, a child then shapes and sharpens their thinking as they represent ideas through playing, talking, drawing or other graphics, and finally forms a clear mental image that makes sense to the child. Therefore it is important that an adult models all tools and teaches children how to use media before leaving it in the environment so children can have free access to it.
  • To be ready to be flexible. It is the way that the learning opportunities are tailored in the moment to meet the needs of each child.
  • Adults can ensure children have opportunities to engage together, to collaborate, or just to play alongside each other and learn from each other’s support and stimulation. Children are not just learning in collaboration with adults. Playing and interacting with other children in all types of activities are opportunities to find themselves stretched, and sometimes pushed out of their comfort zones, by other children’s ways of thinking, communicating and behaving.

Provision of environment

An enabling environment will provide children with:

  • opportunities to experiment with inspiring and accessible media and tools
  • the freedom to make a mess and mix materials
  • space to create individually and collaboratively
  • places for display/labelling or opportunities for taking work home (take photographs of items that children choose to take home)
  • opportunities to make choices
  • the right help at the right time; ensure children are given sensitive and appropriate help when they ask or are struggling
  • support to develop mastery in a range of skills, techniques and safety rules
  • the vocabulary of feelings and opportunities to take part in activities that allow them to express their own feelings and emotions
  • Opportunities to talk about and evaluate their own achievements.
  • A space to have their work celebrated
  • A place to explore and be creative with open-ended resources.


Effective planning includes:

  • Exploring media and materials – drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, sculpture, textile work, and IT graphics software packages.
  • Music – singing, exploring and naming musical instruments, responding to sounds with body movements, beginning to understand musical concepts, and listening to music.
  • Imagination – pretending, representing, role play, and imaginative play.
  • Responding to experiences, expressing and communicating ideas – freedom of expression in a variety of ways.

 Medium term planning

Our plans document the termly learning objectives and what themes and key texts will be used.

We use termly data for groups which informs the termly planning where possible to meet the needs of the children.

Enrichment planning

We plan the delivery of the learning objectives using themes. These plans are evaluated weekly with staff.

Weekly planning

Daily adult led group times ensures that every child has explicit teaching of the prime and specific areas of learning.

Observation, Assessment, Monitoring and Record-Keeping

Children’s skills and stages of development are observed and monitored by key-workers and the whole teaching team.  Observations may be long or short and supported by evidence by uploading this to the Famly app or pieces of work when possible.  These observations also include Levels of Well-being and Involvement (Laevers).

Records of individual children’s progress and achievement are kept electronically on an assessment platform called Tinytrackers. These observations and records inform planning, identify specific targets for each child, may identify a learning difficulty or talent, and provide the school with the means to monitor cohort progress and collect data on the effectiveness of the provision.

Data collected each term will identify children requiring additional support or challenges in this specific area of learning (see Medium Term Planning).

Children’s progress in Expressive Arts and Design is shared with parents/carers during the child’s Curriculum Consultation, which is held every term.  This enables two-way sharing of information and the planning of “next steps”. 

Supporting  all our Children’s Needs

  • Provision will be made to meet the individual requirements of children with any additional needs, to enable them to make progress in Expressive Arts and Design and achieve their full potential, eg through specific targets as part of an Individual Support Plan.
  • Staff will liaise and work closely with other professionals involved with the child and respond to the advice they offer.
  • Where necessary, resources and equipment to support children with additional needs will be procured from other agencies.

Equal Opportunities

At McMillan Early Childhood Centre we aim to offer children and their families a safe environment, free from harassment and discrimination, in which children’s contributions are valued and where racial and religious beliefs are respected.  We aim to challenge discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, ability, or culture.

All children will be treated as individuals and they will have full access to all elements of Expressive Arts and Design provision and opportunities, regardless of race, gender, ability, or culture.  Our enabling environment will take into account children’s different interests, understandings, home backgrounds and cultures.

Health & Safety – Managing Risk

The health and safety of the children will be paramount, and as with all areas of learning, we aim to ensure that the work and activities carried out by the school do not adversely affect the health and safety of other people.  


By the end of their time at McMillan children should be able to:

2 year olds should:

Creating with materials:

  • Taps out simple repeated rhythms
  • Enjoys and responds to playing with colours in a variety of ways for example combining colours.
  • Uses 3d and 2d structures to explore materials and or to express ideas.


Being imaginative and expressive:

  • Begins to make believe by pretending using sounds, movements, words and objects.
  • Uses everyday materials to explore, understand and represent their world – their ideas, interests and fascinations
  • Sings to self and makes up simple songs


3 year olds should:

Creating with materials:

  • Develops and understanding of how to create and use sounds intentionally
  • Enjoys and responds to playing with colours in a variety of ways for example combining colours
  • Continues to explore colour and colours can be changes

Being imaginative and expressive:

  • Creates sounds, movements, drawing to accompany others
  • Uses everyday materials to explore, understand and represent their world – their ideas, interests and fascinations
  • Uses available resources to create props, or create props or creates imaginary ones to support play

4 year olds should:

Creating with materials:

  • Begins to build a collections of songs and dance
  • Expresses and communicates working theories feelings and understanding using a range of of art forms.
  • Uses their increasing knowledge and understanding of tools and materials to explore their interests and enquiries and develop their own thinking art forms


  • Develops their own ideas through experimentation with different forms

Being imaginative and expressive:

  • Initiates new combinations of movements, and gestures in order to express and respond to feelings, ideas and experiences
  • Chooses particular movements, instruments, sounds, colours and materials for their own imaginative purposes
  • Creates representations of both imaginary and real-life ideas, events, people and objects

The Role of the Subject- Co-ordinator

The Subject Co-ordinator is responsible for

  • the writing and reviewing of the Policy for Expressive Arts and Design
  • the development and auditing of this area of learning
  • ensuring that all children receive their entitlement to all the elements of this area of learning
  • identifying and meeting the needs of those children who show a particular talent in this are
  • Identifying and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs or disability
  • monitoring and evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in this area and the children’s progress towards ELG’s
  • monitoring, maintaining and ordering resources
  • supporting colleagues in their understanding and delivery of this area of learning
  • identifying and attending relevant courses to promote continued professional development (CPD) and to feed-back to the Head-teacher and staff.
  • liaising with artists working in the school
  • ensuring equality of opportunity and access to all aspects of Expressive Arts and Design
  • liaising with the Governor with curriculum responsibility for Expressive Arts and Design in order to support their monitoring.