Introducing Creativity Collaboratives

Bill Lucas takes stock of a landmark moment in the history of creativity in schools in England as one of the key recommendations of the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education is realised

In 1999 Sir Ken Robinson called for a national strategy for creative and cultural education and made a powerful case for developing the creativity of all young people in schools. Two decades later, the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education made a similar case in its first report, recommending the development and funding of Creativity Collaboratives - a national cohort of schools to test and evaluate a range of innovative practices in teaching for creativity.

The Durham recommendation is now a reality with £2,780,000 of funding awarded to eight Collaboratives across England. Supported by Freelands Foundation, these networks will trial various methods of teaching that help children and young people to develop their creative capabilities. Each Collaborative will evaluate its own project and Durham University will provide an overall evaluation of the programme. The pilot scheme will run until July 2024, testing out teaching approaches and curriculum development which can then be applied more widely throughout the education system.

A diversity of approaches

Applications from the schools which bid for funding demonstrate the high level of interest which exists across the country. Topics Collaboratives plan to investigate include:

  • the connection between creativity and communication
  • the role of creativity in addressing urgent issues such as the climate emergency
  • how best to work with cultural and scientific organisations to support teaching for creativity
  • the link between creativity and academic attainment and achievement
  • creativity as a set of habits of mind or dispositions
  • the relationship of creativity to the local environment
  • the impact of creativity on employability
  • the links between creativity and wellbeing
  • creativity as a means of addressing inequality.

Alongside these topics, at a practical delivery level, schools want to understand many things including:

  • how to cultivate a school culture which is conducive to creativity
  • ways of embedding creativity in every subject
  • the role of extra-curricular learning
  • the transdisciplinary nature of creativity
  • the assessment of creativity
  • signature pedagogies for teaching creativity
  • the use of the five creative habits model
  • the kinds of professional learning that work best
  • the role of students in the creative process
  • the benefits to children with special educational needs,
  • how to establish new kinds of residency models for creativity.

Linking the topics and practical delivery questions is leadership, including how best to ensure that teachers, students and all those working with them, can have the space and develop the confidence explicitly to teach for creativity in a world where all schools have to be mindful of the examination system and their Ofsted performance. Next month Creativity Exchange will be featuring a new report from the Mercers’ Livery Company and the University of Winchester sharing what is currently known about effective Creative Leadership in schools.

Meet the eight Creativity Collaboratives

Anglian Learning, with schools in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex, will explore how varied approaches to teaching for creativity, with a particular focus on inquisitiveness, support all pupils and contribute to school improvement in a diverse range of settings.

Billesley Primary School, in Birmingham, will be working in West Midlands and East Anglia with a focus on developing creative pedagogies within a rich curriculum that is strongly linked to local heritage. Halterworth Primary School, in Hampshire, part of the University of Winchester Academy Trust, will focus on exploring enablers and barriers to teaching for creativity and their interaction with inequality, including fostering children’s and teachers’ creative self-beliefs, and the establishment of Creativity Mentors. Holy Family Catholic Multi- Academy Trust, Liverpool, intends to work across their community delivering a project focused on reducing disadvantage through creative teaching practices, specifically exploring ways of evidencing the development of creativity in young people.

Penryn College, in Cornwall, will be exploring how teaching for creativity across the curriculum prepares young people for their future in a changing workforce, working in partnership to establish a creative strategy and pedagogy to ensure students are best prepared for the modern workforce. The Duchess’s Community High, in Northumberland, working with Creativity, Culture and Education, will test approaches to embedding teaching for creativity in all subjects in the curriculum including Maths, Science, Technology and English alongside arts-based subjects using the five creative habits model. The St Marylebone CE School, London, will focus on the establishment of a professional learning community to support the development of shared language and values within their school network to create and sustain teaching for creativity. Welbeck Primary School in Nottingham, will be working in a diverse range of educational settings including primary schools, a hospital school, a special educational needs school and a referral unit for unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees, exploring how to nurture children’s innate creativity and curiosity within the curriculum.

The start of a creative journey in schools

This innovative work of Creativity Collaboratives reflects Arts Council’s commitment to reach children and young people across the country and in all phases of education to nurture their individual curiosity and creative potential. Over the pilot programme we will be featuring each of the Creativity Collaboratives and sharing their learning more widely on the Creativity Exchange - we hope you’ll join us on this exciting, new journey!

Find out more about Creativity Collaboratives.

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