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National Curriculum

Creativity and critical thinking

Creativity involves the use of imagination and intellect to generate ideas, insights and solutions to problems and challenges. Coupled with critical thinking, which involves evaluative reasoning, creative activity can produce outcomes that can be original, expressive and have value. Download the creativity and critical thinking overview.

Creativity and critical thinking develop young people’s capacity for original ideas and purposeful action. Experiencing the wonder and inspiration of human ingenuity and achievement, whether artistic, scientific or technological, can spark individual enthusiasms that contribute to personal fulfilment.

Creativity can be an individual or collaborative activity. By engaging in creative activities, young people can develop the capacity to influence and shape their own lives and wider society. Everyone has the potential for creative activity and it can have a positive impact on self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and overall achievement.

Creative activity is essential for the future wellbeing of society and the economy. It can unlock the potential of individuals and communities to solve personal, local and global problems. Creativity is possible in every area of human activity – from the cutting edge of human endeavour to ordinary aspects of our daily life.

Creativity and critical thinking are not curriculum subjects, but they are crucial aspects of learning that should permeate the curriculum and the life of the school.

Developing a curriculum that supports creativity and critical thinking

In order to develop young people’s creativity and critical thinking, they should have opportunities across the curriculum to:

  • use their imagination to explore possibilities

  • generate ideas, take risks and to learn from their mistakes

  • refine, modify and iteratively develop ideas and products

  • make connections between ideas

  • engage in creative activities in all subjects, exploring links between subjects and wider aspects of learning

  • work in relevant contexts, with real audience and purpose

  • work with a range of creative individuals, both in and out of the classroom

  • encounter the work of others, including theories, literature, art, design, inventions and discoveries, as sources of inspiration

  • discover and pursue particular interests and talents.

Explanatory text

Iteratively: Repeating the stages of development until the desired outcome is achieved.

Curriculum case studies

a science experiment

Inspired engineering

A cross-subject engineering project has helped pupils...

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See also

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