Citizenship Education, Art & Design

(lesson plans and other resources included here are provided by Susan Whitla, PGCE student 2003-2004, University of Ulster, School of Education)

Art has a long history of taking an active and critical look at society; communicating ideas, commenting and aspiring to social change.

From Picasso’s Guernica to the photographic images of the Vietnam War, the visual arts have highlighted the wrongs of society and the pain that conflict delivers to both victims and perpetrators (New Releases project)

The integration of aspects of Art and Design and Citizenship is potentially rewarding. Citizenship advocates active, creative and experiential learning and art can be an effective and engaging tool, providing a non-verbal mechanism for exploring difficult issues and a visual language for expressing and communicating personal views and feelings. The development of creative thinking skills are important in finding new responses to conflict in the future, and the artistic process develops this capacity, encouraging a sense of ownership and responsibility. Viewing an artwork in relation to a particular issue can be an effective way to raise awareness and stimulate discussion. Art has the power to enrich learning experiences by bringing an affective and emotional dimension, conveying the quality of a particular human reality.

A work of art encountered is an experience, not a statement or an answer to a question. Art is not about something: it is something (Susan Sontag)

Links between the Programmes of Study for Art & Design and Citizenship at Key Stage 3

CCEA are expected to recommend that Citizenship be given discrete time in the timetable and be taught through other subjects, in order to embed the ethos of the programme fully throughout the school, promote ‘joined-up’ learning and counteract the fact that pupils frequently do not make connections between subjects. The key concepts within Citizenship translate into broad themes for investigation in art, and could potentially enhance motivation by increasing personal engagement with the subject, increasing relevance and interest, and so encouraging creativity and the development of artistic skills. The Programme of Study for Art and Design is framed in terms of key experiences and the development of skills, rather than content, allowing space for exploration of issues.There are natural areas of overlap within the remits for Citizenship and Art & Design.

  • be encouraged to develop their knowledge, understanding and self-confidence in expressing their ideas and feelings about themselves and the world they live in
  • respond intuitively, draw upon memory, imagination, observation, first hand experiences
  • explore, express & communicate ideas
  • make a personal response
  • discuss the development of their ideas and meaning in their work
  • make informed, critical comments about their own and other peoples’ work
  • analyse and compare the work of artists, craftworkers and designers from different cultures and contexts… including works which reflect a range of non-European traditions
  • become familiar with images and objects which represent the expression of ideas within a wide range of cultures and traditions.

Year 8 – Diversity and Inclusion

Document Type
Year 8
Year 8 LP intro
Year 8 Unit map
Year 8 unit portrait
Notes on portrait
Portrait LP1
Early Art Forms

Year 9 – Equality and Social Justice

Document Type
Year 9
Unit conflict


Guernica, Pablo Picasso (1937)

Year 10 – Democracy and Active Participation

Mural painting – Transformation
Mural painting is a form of artistic expression giving voice to the political and social views of ordinary people in ordinary communities. Because of its public use, it automatically becomes a social statement. The ubiquity of murals within Northern Ireland and their prominence in the minds of many young people make them a powerful medium through which to begin to address some of the issues of identity and community at the core of the statements of entitlement for Citizenship education, and also to explore art as a communicative tool.

Many young people identify strongly with the murals and graffiti art of their community, and this project aims to channel that enthusiasm, using it to broaden the pupils’ appreciation of art and the social context of art.

The title of the project is ‘Transformation’ and the theme of the mural should reflect a future-orientated vision for the community and society, considering positive and negative aspects of society and how a better future can be achieved. It is important however that the teacher facilitates the project, allowing students to have ownership over the final outcome.

Document Type
Mural Unit
Notes Mural
Lesson Plan 1
Lesson Plan 2
Lesson Plan 3
Lesson Plan 4
Lesson Plan 5