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Visual arts achievement objectives


The New Zealand Curriculum specifies four strands of achievement objectives for visual arts:

  • Understanding visual arts in context (UC)
  • Practical knowledge in visual arts (PK)
  • Developing ideas in visual arts (DI)
  • Communicating and interpreting in visual arts (CI)

Progression in the visual arts

As they progress through level 6-8 in the visual arts, students move:

  • from identifying particular relationships between art works and the contexts in which they were made to researching and analysing complex relationships between contexts and the intentions of artists on the making of art works.
    • For example, from identifying that Māori rock drawings featured moa because they were a significant animal in the lives of the makers of the drawings to researching a range of forms of pre-historic drawings and interpreting the reasons that such drawings were made.
  • from using a range of established conventions when making art works to applying deep understanding of art making conventions from their own research, using refined skills.
    • For example, from making portrait photographs that use conventions of pose and lighting based on teacher instruction to researching a range of established practice to identify and select their own poses, costume, accessories and lighting in order to communicate specific ideas or gain particular responses.
  • from generating, developing and clarifying ideas in order to solve problems in a body of work to generating, developing, clarifying and regenerating ideas in response to a selected proposition.
    • For example, from using the design process to combine text and image to produce a poster to using the design process to produce a range of promotional items in response to a particular brief, and reinterpreting the brief in the development of subsequent works across a range of media.
  • from identifying the way established art making processes and procedures influence the communication of meaning to critically reflecting on and responding to art works.
    • For example, from identifying that dull browns and greys can communicate a sombre mood in a painting to identifying why the artist may have wanted to communicate such a mood, and what this does in terms of the viewer’s interpretation of the painting.
  • from typically producing work in response to a teacher selected or co-constructed theme or scenario to typically producing work in response to a personally developed proposition, based on their own research and analysis of established art practice.

Teachers will need to recognise and acknowledge the range of prior visual arts experiences that students have had, and will need to adapt their programme of teaching and learning accordingly.


Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion of how they might be used with the focus achievement objective.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situation, community relevance, and students’ interests and needs.

Central to all contexts of teaching and learning in the visual arts is the study of artist models. This is the mechanism used to help students develop an understanding of established practice in a particular context. The overall objective is for students to understand how and where their work sits in relation to established practice in order to clarify their own ways of working and thinking.

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Last updated June 25, 2012