I teach in a school quite near London and in a couple of weeks I’m taking my students (DP years 1 and 2) to visit one of the major London art galleries – the Tate Britain.

We visit a different London gallery every year so the students can enjoy at least one encounter with real art in both years of the course, but this is not enough, so in addition I ‘assign’ them to visit art shows and/or galleries during the summer break and to return to class to present what they learned to the class.

I also encourage them to visit galleries oat least once a month, and some (but not all) do.

These are not just excellent learning experiences in terms of seeing ‘real’ art: they also frequently lead to fundamental improvements in the students’ art-making.

At the very least students see successful techniques and media; they also have a far greater appreciation of appreciate of size and scale; and of course also they see evidence of artists’ ideas, interpretations and creativity. All this becomes a spring-board for studio work.

And as the May 2013 Visual Arts Subject Report confirms, “Candidates need to be shown good quality art if they are to create good art. In some schools it appeared that candidates had not been encouraged to see any art beyond that which could be accessed in the classroom via the Internet.

Gallery visits are very important in seeing the visual characteristics of an artist’s work and to help candidates to learn and then apply these techniques.

Artists’ exhibitions, studios, and journals should be accessed as a form of investigation. Further inquiry beyond the classroom and internet is needed to help candidates to develop their own technical skills beyond a one-off pastiche and is a more significant part of the development of the candidates’ work.

Candidates with little art experience who only investigate through the Internet cannot always discern between good and poor quality art. In schools where candidates had visited art galleries, museums or had workshops with professional artists there was generally a more informed body of work. Direct experience was a motivating factor and it provided very good stimulus for the production of art work”.

So if you want to improve your grade

  1. Visit an art exhibition – every month if possible! SEE REAL ART!
  2. Ask your teacher about the subject reports. They are published twice a  year and are consistently fantastically useful and helpful documents