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National Curriculum

How can heads and managers promote creativity?



For creativity to flourish, it needs to be built into the whole-school ethos. This section looks at how school leaders can help to establish a creative environment and ensure that everyone in the school shares an understanding of creativity.

Putting creativity at the centre

  • Build an expectation of creativity into your school’s learning and teaching policy.

  • Consider providing extended cross-subject projects that give pupils opportunities to take greater control of their learning, work together and make connections between different areas of their learning.

  • Try to avoid over-compartmentalised teaching. If pupils see ‘the whole picture’ and are helped to recognise relationships and patterns in their learning, they will gain a deeper understanding.

  • Involve all the school in an event to experience and celebrate creative learning.

  • Show and share tangible changes that result from creativity.

  • Encourage, recognise and reward pupils’ creativity. Ask teachers to nominate examples of creativity and celebrate these at a school or year assembly.

Many schools have already discovered the importance of putting creativity at the centre of all teaching and learning. As David Brodie, headteacher at Prince Albert Junior and Infant School in Birmingham explains: ‘Initially we went down a route that was almost bolt-on … but really in the end that’s not sufficient. It [creativity] needs to be woven into the real fabric of the curriculum. Otherwise it’s just back to grind, grind, grind and then a little bit of excitement and interest. Of course what we found out was that the children are learning far better when they have interest, so why not do it all the time?’

Providing time

  • Allow some flexibility in timetabling lessons, so that plans can be adjusted quickly.

  • Give pupils sustained time for some work, for example a whole afternoon instead of two separate lessons a week.

  • Consider setting by a regular slot (for example half a day a fortnight) for creative work.

  • From time to time, set up a weekly project across the whole school with a focus on creative learning.

  • One day a week or term, dare staff to be different and more adventurous in their teaching.

Providing resources

  • Make sure that pupils have the resources they need to be creative (for example, high-quality materials, tools, apparatus and equipment).

  • Make sure that pupils have the space they need to be creative (for example, space for dance and drama, to create on a large scale in art and design).

  • Make sure that pupils have access to film, video and the internet (which help them to connect their learning to life outside school) and to first-hand experience of objects and environments (which stimulate their curiosity).

  • Agree and provide key entitlements, such as working with artists and other creative professionals, going to the theatre or learning a musical instrument.

  • Involve pupils in creating a stimulating environment. For example, they could help to redesign the playground or improve the school’s natural spaces.

  • Work with higher education and other agencies to get access to resources.

  • Tap the creativity of staff, parents and the local community.

Professional learning and development

  • Make creativity part of the staff development programme and include creativity in everyone’s performance targets.

  • Lead a staff meeting on creativity and how to promote it. Develop a shared understanding of what your school means by creative learning (you could begin by talking about some of the examples on this website).

  • Give staff time to explore the creative process as a team and to review their teaching strategies.

  • Encourage the collaborative redesign of lessons.

  • Ask your local authority for support – it might be able to put you in contact with other schools focusing on creativity.

  • Emphasise the benefits to everyone of taking a creative approach. As one primary teacher explains: ‘We do all enjoy our teaching more now at school because we feel that there is more of an excitement about the curriculum and there is more of a buzz around school. Even walking up and down the corridor now – you can see and feel that the whole school is connected in their learning.’

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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