Penryn Creativity Collaborative invited to speak at leading education seminar

Penryn Creativity Collaborative (PCC) reflect on their invitation to join the conversation at this year’s British Educational Research Association’s (BERA) Creative pedagogies, research and practice in conversations seminar.

Hi Sarah, hi Kerry! Tell us a little about yourself and your work on the Creativity Collaboratives pilot research programme.

Sarah: Hi, I’m Sarah Childs and I lead the Penryn Creativity Collaborative (PCC). PCC brings together an established partnership of nine schools (eight primary schools and one secondary) who have worked together for almost 20 years. During Year 2 of the Creativity Collaboratives programme, we have carried out action research with teachers developing practice in classrooms across the partnership. We are also working with wider partners such as the University of Exeter (UoE) and cultural and industry partners from across South West England. We are fortunate to lean on the expertise of Kerry Chappell, Ursula Crickmay and Alex Thornton at UoE and you can read more about our work together in our Year 1 report.

Together, we’re exploring ‘how does teaching creativity across the curriculum lead to young people who are better prepared for their future in a changing workforce?’ Through our findings, we aim to ensure Creativity is cultivated across the whole school curriculum. You can read my earlier blog about our research programme here.

Kerry: Hi, I’m Kerry Chappell, Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Exeter. I’m working closely with Sarah on the PCC programme as their research partner, with my colleague Ursula Crickmay. We’ve designed the action research element of the programme and supported PCC with its training and mentoring, as well as leading on creating and testing the conceptual framework through the synthesis research looking at the ‘how’ of teaching for creativity. I also had the privilege of delivering the Anna Craft Memorial Lecture at the BERA seminar.

How did Penryn Creativity Collaborative’s invitation to the BERA seminar come about?

Sarah: BERA invited the PCC to join the event alongside experts who were asked to speak from their professional experience. This included accounts of a diversity of creative collaborations spanning education and society, as teachers, artists and researchers. I spoke alongside Professor Dan Harris, School of Education, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, and a trio of US colleagues - Dr Amanda Nicole Gulla, Professor of English Education at Lehman College, Olu Animashaun and Deidre Lynn Hollman, from Columbia University. We all shared our insights on creative pedagogies: how they are practiced and researched; why they matter now and what they believe should be driving our work in the field.

That sounds really interesting. Were you able to participate in the rest of the seminar?

Sarah: Yes, fortunately we were able to immerse ourselves in very inspirational learning and discussion with international colleagues. The seminar was run in collaboration with the International Society for the Study of Creativity and Innovation and the Global Institute of Creative Thinking, which brought together a host of experts with academic and practice-based experience who shared their insights into and experience of learning and teaching of and for creativity.

What were your highlights from the seminar?

Sarah: There was some really interesting conversations coming out of the break-out room discussions, which focused on two central questions;

  1. Why do you think creative pedagogies matter in education right now?
  2. What do you see as the important next steps in the field?

Exciting debate developed around the fundamental purpose of school across the globe and the role of creative pedagogies in enabling learning to be current and engaging. Recurring themes appeared around understanding where teachers are right now in the classroom, echoing the approach across our Collaborative, following a year of teacher-led action research. Key to the discussion was consideration of the small yet important steps that could be considered as part of existing school structures encouraging teachers to try new approaches.

And of course, Kerry’s Lecture entitled Creative Ruptions for Emergent Educational Futures, was a highlight for me.

Kerry, tell us a bit more about what you discussed in your lecture.

The 2023 Anna Craft Memorial Lecture was a privileged opportunity for me to reflect on my personal and professional relationship with Professor Anna Craft, who sadly passed away in 2014. In the lecture I was able to talk about the heritage of our academic ideas and research together, many of which now underpin the PCC conceptual framework. I also discussed the new book that I’m co-editing: Creative Ruptions for Emergent Educational Futures (in press, 2024) which argues that we need to radically change how we do education. The Creativity Collaboratives programme is just the tip of the iceberg regarding what’s possible, and is a great marker on the journey to make sure that all children and young people experience a creative education. This is vital, so that they can respond to the global challenges that we’re all experiencing.

How can we find out more?

Kerry: The BERA Creativities event recording is available until 14 September here >.

You can watch the memorial lecture recording here >.

Sarah: We are looking forward to sharing the Penryn Creativity Collaborative Year 2 Report, early in the 2023 Autumn term. This year’s report will include 13 Action Research reports from teachers across the Penryn Partnership, and overarching synthesis on what has been learned this year in relation to teaching for creativity. If you haven’t already joined our dissemination list please email us.

In Year 3 we are looking forward to embedding and growing PCC learning to date, with an increased focus on workforce readiness for creativity and long-term planning beyond 2024.

Follow Penryn on Twitter: @collegepenryn

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