Developing a Display Policy in the Secondary Phase

Art, Craft & Design Guidance Document
Developing a Display Policy in the Secondary Phase
Introduction and context
Departments of Art, Craft and Design may believe that as display and celebration of the work of
students is such a fundamental part of what they do, that there is no need to draft a policy to guide
what they display and how they should display it. The difficulty with this approach is that the team
do not then share a consensus on responsibility or the principles on which decisions for display are
made. More importantly, whole school display and the managed cost for this are not placed within a
formal agreement in the school, with the likely outcome that the department cover all the costs for
display. It is far more professional to establish a policy and cost the time, materials and agreed
principles for display with the SLT, so that the real costs for whole school display are covered within
extra funding. Display should have a discrete budget and clear outlines for standards, expectations
and timescales, which sets the whole process of display into a more professional arrangement.
The values that the art and design team wish to embody within which their displays are organised
and presented (high standards, professionalism, respect, equality and advocacy for our subject)
should be agreed by the team and set out in a brief statement to help guide the way your team.
It is also worth noting that exhibition design and management or curatorship are respected
professions in their own right. An effective school display signposts real careers in the creative,
media and design industries.
A display policy should set out the values of the department and their objectives for display,
possibly extending across the school – The following questions: Who, What, Why, Where, When
and How provide guidance for subject leaders to support departmental teams and clarity for the
is responsible for setting up a display, choosing the work and deciding where
and how it will be displayed?
 Is a technician involved or will each member of the team have specific
responsibility for their room or other designated areas?
 Does one member of the team have a specific responsibility for school display,
or is there a rota of staff?
will be included in a display? All the work from a project? Or, just selected works:
A whole project? A whole Year group? A whole class? A mix of work from
Projects, a theme? Or, the highest quality work only e.g. to set high expectations?
 What kind of display will it be i.e. celebratory, informative, exemplification of
standards or a contextual stimulus?
 Will it include only finished work? Or, exemplify work in progress by showing
stages in the process?
 Will examination work be displayed before it is assessed and moderated? Can
colour copies of some work be displayed, or collected for display when
students leave and take their work with them? Should former students leave
one piece of work for display in school?
 Will it support learning by showing examples of standards or a technique?
What will be the benefit to the learning? Will it provide a stimulus to a
particular project and contain some or no student work, but visual resources or
a thinking stimulus?
 What else could it contain or purpose could it serve?
 What forms of virtual display systems do you have (e.g. often in school foyer
areas) and does art, craft and design have access to display on this?
is the selected set of work or visual resources/stimulus being displayed? There
should be a purpose to display i.e. is it celebratory or for learning?
is the display going to be placed? Celebratory work is often displayed in key areas
around the school or in blocks associated with the age of the students?
 Where are the key areas for display around the department? You may want to
specify the large wall display boards for displaying drawings and larger
studies on paper, whereas the areas around the whiteboard are best kept for
learning stimulus, visual reference and exemplar displays.
 You may want to specify “no display blocking windows and light and keeping
surfaces in classrooms clear”. However, you may want to specify, permit or
prevent the use of ‘white-tac’ on walls or to attach specific items to windows.
 Where are the key areas for display around the school? Does the school have
a gallery? List on a plan of the school, the areas identified/agreed for display
e.g. foyer area, hall and dining area, Head’s office, library, main corridors,
display cases, stairwells, exterior walls, external plinths or sculpture area,
glass screens? Determine if there will be shared access with another subject
and if so, agree a programme or rota for who has access and when?
 Are the areas for display identified and equipped with suitable boards, frames,
hanging rails, display systems/cases, shelving or a designated safe floor
 NB. Health and Safety is an issue as display should comply with fire officer
regulations to ensure safe movement along key corridors or near fire exits i.e.
3D work and sculpture should not block exits and be safely displayed.
 Health and safety also defines the rules for display at height and requires the
correct equipment or ladders and staff training before use, hanging heavy
work. It also defines whether work in frames should be displayed behind glass
or acrylic?
 Subject leaders should also be aware of displaying work in positions that will
set off movement alarms or affect security systems.
should work be displayed? At what point in the year is it most appropriate to
display particular work i.e. leading up to exams, or to celebrate outcomes at the
end of a project? How long will work be placed on display e.g. One month,
a half term or longer? When should displays be taken down?
 When is a good time to display? NB. GCSE and A Level work are often
displayed in line with examination timetables or after moderation.
 When should displays be taken down? What will you specify as best practice?
should work be displayed? This is a matter of taste and judgement. However,
there are certain principles that should guide the actions of the team. These are:
 The team should work within health and safety guidelines.
 Determine whether you will use of staple guns, drawing pins or Velcro tabs (or
a mix of all) to limit damage to the work.
 Specify how work will be displayed on wall mounted boards (see Notes).
 Specify the background colours you will use on boards (getting this wrong can
make work look dull or create a messy look to the department).
How will work be protected? How will examination work be displayed prior to
being marked and moderated? Will plastic covered boards offer suitable
protection? or should work be display in framed display units with protective acrylic
doors? (see Notes).
How will the subject team set the rules for respecting/preventing damage to work
on display? (see Notes).
How much will display cost and who funds this?
 The cost of display will either need to be calculated within the department
budget, OR, within a whole school budget and allocated by the headteacher.
Display around the school carries a cost for time, display materials and
possible print costs. The head of art and design should ask whether the
department will provide all display within their own budget, or should the
school contribute some additional funding for display in specific school areas
to ensure this is high quality?
Statements can be drafted from these questions that contribute to defining the values of the
department, but also to set out the principles, aims or objectives for display in art, craft and design,
as well as any whole school focus or responsibility. They may also include statements that address
the following aspects:
to celebrate achievement across all year groups and ability groups;
to exemplify good and outstanding practice, and illustrate standards to promote these
to create a high quality, stimulating visual and tactile environment to support learning;
to nurture pride and respect for the work produced, the school environment and the student
Many policies begin with a quote that expresses the philosophy of the school’s e.g.
‘The way in which work and other material is displayed and arranged in a school is more than a
matter of convenience: it is a reflection of the atmosphere and attitudes that prevail there.’
The Arts in School – Gulbenkian Report
This statement infers a reference to the values and ethos of a school. Schools are required to set
out how the British values are implemented and display can contribute to this.
NB. These aims, values or objectives must be agreed by all members of the art and design team,
including any technician and temporary members of the team.
Display to support teaching
Determine if it is good practice to teach students how to mount work and display it properly.
This is particularly the case for examination students preparing folders for assessment and
portfolios for interview. Set out the ways in which mounting, presentation and display are
taught and included within schemes of work.
 Set out in which particular projects, the taught elements of design layout, principles and skills
of high quality presentation, mounting and display will be incorporated. Clarify whether
students participate in display activity to collaborate and display their own or the outcomes
from part of a class project.
 Set out when and whether work will be labelled with student names.
Set out when and whether grades or assessments will be displayed.
Define guidance for where and how visual stimulus, visual and technical guidance and
displays to support learning will be positioned, i.e. on the learning wall at the front of the
classroom and around the whiteboard.
Set out the expectations for all members of the team to document good examples of work
from their own students and where possible display images to illustrate process as well as
Set out how examples will be developed as a physical and/or virtual repository/library and
used to illustrate and exemplify standards to clarify the expectations set out within the
objectives and success criteria in lessons.
Determine whether displays should/will have any interactive properties, either in classrooms
or whole school areas.
Display to support the celebration of quality and of participation
Set out the expectation for how photographic examples can be used in the virtual displays in
the school foyer, on screens around the department and school for open-school events.
Set out the expectation for members of the team to take photographs of their own displays
for reference. Define how good examples should be printed and contribute to a photograph
album in the visitors waiting area to celebrate subject success.
The identified Resources – health and safety
Define the resources for mounting and display that are centrally stored. Stocks of papers,
guillotines/cutting equipment, staple guns, White-tac, Velcro and picture hanging materials,
along with cleaning materials for frames and acrylic surfaces.
Set out the health and safety expectations, supported by statements which set out
arrangements and guidelines for displaying work in those areas which require special
arrangements, working at height etc.
Set out the guidance for displaying at height, consider the possibility of work falling from
specific display areas and risk assess this for student and teacher safety.
Define the rules/principles for the use of spray adhesives, spray fixative, display in key
areas, safe 3D display, cutting equipment such as guillotines, trimmers, cutting knives and
mats, staple guns and working at height by staff and students.
Leadership and management
Set out the date and regularity for the review of this policy.
Set out the budget rules for display.
Set out any schedule for display and responsibilities members of the team may hold.
Set out responsibilities of department and whole school staff for ongoing ‘care’ of displays
around the school, to define the respect students should show to work and what actions are
appropriate to enforce these principles and values. The responsibility of staff to correct or
repair any damage done, immediately when this is seen, including the removal of damaged
Set out principles for the duration that displays will stay on boards. This will differ from area
to area. Some may remain static for a term, whilst others may need to be changed halftermly, etc.
Set out any key school contacts/responsible individuals or references to health and safety.
Set out the key display events such as examination exhibitions and open school events.
Display board information:
Layout is an issue to be clearly defined. Everyone has their own taste, but to avoid
disagreement and achieve some degree of continuity across the department and the school,
you should describe the types of layout that are acceptable and those that are not. Setting out
the different types of display which can be used, will help the team to plan and produce display
quality outcomes.
A department should specify whether display boards will be painted, covered in paper or left as
a bare surface? (NB. 9mm K grade Sundeala board is the correct pinboard material for
NB. Painted boards get damaged with the removal of staples or use of tape. Paper fades and
usually looks ‘tatty’. However, K grade Sundeala boards are available pre-coloured and these
fully retain brightness and quality. They do not show damage as the fibres are coloured
throughout the depth of the boards, always look smart and can be lightly sanded to hide
A department may consider specifying the best colour to mount work against and the boards
you will buy or changing boards to establish consistency and improved display surfaces.
Black is a dark colour and really ‘kills’ most line drawing. A warm grey or wheat is flexible and
some strong colours can work well as a general colour to set off most displays. Monochromatic
works well against a coloured boards such as a deep green, blue or red/plum. They are also
available in charcoal, wheat, lilac and orange. Charcoal and wheat also work fairly well as
background colours for colourful work.
 Specify how new display boards will be positioned on walls in the department and in corridors.
Vertical positioning is always best along empty walls, resting on the skirting boards, in blocks of
two or more panels with no gaps between them. This provides a large area for display.
Landscape hanging of boards in a corridor, or as single boards is wasteful of space and limits
flexibility for art and design work. It works best for display in other subjects of A4 sheets of
written work or small images.
 Many new schools have very large walls, perfect for display in circulation areas. Do explore with
site managers how you can display on these. Whether areas of coloured Sundeala board are
best. Check whether a special safety ladder for hanging work will be required. Alternatively, you
might explore installing a rail that can be lowered and raised for hanging fabric lengths, large
paper works or big boards and canvases to make setting up and changing a display, safe and
relatively easy to achieve.
Protection of work:
There are basic principles for the protection of work on display. These are:
Examination work should not be displayed prior to being marked and moderated, if there is a
concern it will be damaged.
o Examination and fragile work is usually safer displayed in the art and design rooms or
supervised exhibition spaces.
o Displaying fragile work or work with raised surfaces at particular heights and in narrow
corridors can lead to damage.
o 3D work should be placed where it will not obstruct movement and on surfaces where
movement will be held away from the display surface.
o Plastic sheet to cover work on display generally does not address the problem of respect
and self-management. Plastic sheets always becomes worn and distracts from the quality of
the work. It has limited protection qualities and will look unsightly quite quickly. It sends a
message to a visitor (or Ofsted Inspector) that students do not respect work. A school will
need to implement a policy of requiring all students to move around with respect and care for
the work on display; bags cannot be lifted to head height; leaning against work or walls is
unacceptable; no pushing or shoving etc. It takes a year or more, but eventually if all staff
consistently implements this, you can achieve a calm and respectful community with very
few accidental damage to work. Corridor rails can be a way of keeping students slightly away
from walls.
Framed display units with lockable protective acrylic doors are also available, but cost is
exceptionally high and these are all designed to be only mounted in landscape format, in a line
down a corridor. This severely limits the flexibility of display and the acrylic also becomes
scratched and dull over time. They may have some use in protecting fragile work.
Mounting and display:
There are basic principles for mounting work which the department may want to specify. This
might include for example, not mounting on black sugar paper or card as this reduces the visual
impact of pencil drawing or monochromatic work. Other principles to be agreed might include:
o Bulk purchase of a suitable weight of the same coloured mountboard for examination work,
to avoid arguments and achieve consistency of display. Limited selections of other flexible
colours, where appropriate.
o Use of single, double, treble mounting or no mounts, overall and within a specific display.
NB. Double mounting is costly and time consuming.
o Mounting might be specified to always/generally follow a rule of narrow mounts e.g. 10mm,
25mm or 50mm.
o Window mounts only to be cut with a proper mount cutter.
o All mounting to be cut square/rectangular unless works are shaped.
There are also basic values and principles for displaying work that the department may want to
specify. This might for example include colour of background surfaces/display boards, framing
displays or rules for hanging work. All of which can increase the quality of a display through the
professionalism with which work is presented. This will also contribute to a demonstration of
respect for student’s work and can result in increased funding from a Headteacher who like their
school to look ‘smart’. However, all principles of display may be considered a matter of taste, but
it can be important in some schools that the art and design team establish and share common
values and principles for display, otherwise it can lead to disagreement and tensions.
 Further values and principles to be agreed might include:
o Not covering boards with sugar paper as this will fade and become torn. It is also a waste of
good sugar paper.
o Not adding fancy paper frames to a display board, which can distract from the work.
o Displaying the work to some form of a vertical and horizontal grid, which can incorporate
work of a different size, but also some work arranged in different ways inside the outer rows
or towards the centre of the display.
o Agreeing whether or when it might be appropriate for work to be displayed rotated, off
vertical, randomly scattered at angles or ‘off boards’ and across the walls.
o Agreeing to display the work from a line or virtual line running just below the top of the
display board, or just above the bottom of a display board. Provided one or both of these
lines are used, all other work on the board can be more loosely displayed.
o You may also want to consider extending your principles of good display more widely across
the school where relevant.
G.Gast 2015
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