CPD Week shows the importance of creativity in learning and provides food for thought on how to support creativity in schools

It could be argued that the bedrock of effective professional and personal development in schools is the extent to which creativity in staff members is harnessed and nurtured. Without paying specific attention to creativity, a crucial dimension of potential may be lost. With this in mind, we take a look at the ways in which schools might support creativity, in all its many manifestations, in order to boost CPD. We also report on the so − called creativity ‘squeeze’ that seems to be happening in some schools.

Quote of the week

“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and the pupil are located in the same individual.” Arthur Koestler

Practical Tips Creating space for creativity

There are some things in life that have almost universal approval, and the benefits of creativity seem to fall into that category. We all know that it is a Good Thing, wouldn’t dream of arguing against it, and yet frequently we don’t give it the priority we might in the continuing personal and professional development of staff members. As a useful starting point, it can help to appreciate that just about every aspect of the drive to promote creativity in young people can equally be applied to the development of creativity in staff members. For example, all the reasons why creativity in young people is so relevant apply equally to adults: the fact that it helps people to become more interested in discovering things for themselves, it opens people up to new ideas, helps them to go ‘above and beyond’ when pursuing a vision, and that it encourages people to work with others on ideas. All of these features help to boost motivation and achievement in pupils and adults alike. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) suggests that creativity can be defined as being:

  • Imaginative
  • Purposeful
  • Original
  • Valuable

These are useful to use as guidance to apply to each CPD activity: is it imaginative, purposeful, original and/or valuable? Does it help staff members to challenge and question new learning? Can they make connections, explore ideas, create visions of what might be, and reflect critically on ideas and outcomes? Just as creativity can be planned for in the classroom, so too can it be planned for in CPD. However, using the QCA guidance for creativity for pupils, creativity for staff members would need to be:

  • put right at the centre of CPD
  • given dedicated time
  • properly resourced

So how well does your school do? Here are some ideas to boost creativity among staff members:

  • Put it on the agenda of staff meetings. Talk about it and generate ideas for how it might be better encouraged among the adults in your school.
  • Invite creative professionals to run workshops in, for example, creative writing, visual arts and music.
  • Encourage people to view creativity as being valuable in its own right rather than simply as a route to improved results.
  • Encourage creativity ‘showcasing’ among staff members, especially following creativity workshops.
  • Set up a creative mentoring scheme whereby those staff members who have highly developed creative skills support others who feel less confident about their creativity skills.

Creativity as a concept is here to stay. The expectations on schools to boost creativity in pupils look set to increase and with that should come a commitment to supporting creativity in staff members through their CPD. But as ever, in order to achieve even that, a creative response from schools will be needed!

Over to you…

How does your school handle the need to boost staff members’ creativity skills? Do you have an innovative approach to share with readers? Email us and we may feature you in a future issue of CPD Week.

Find out more

The QCA’s website on creativity in schools can be found here www.ncaction.org.uk/creativity/

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Issues and Information The ‘creativity’ squeeze A recent report from the House of Commons education committee found that creativity in schools is not receiving the emphasis that it should. As part of an effective all-round education, creativity, by which the report means the arts, music and thinking more imaginatively about subjects, should be at the heart of what happens in schools, but too often it has become a ‘second order priority’.

The committee has urged schools to continue their enthusiasm about the benefits of creativity and has suggested that the government finds ways of offering schools active support for creativity. One suggestion they put forward is for an assessment of creative skills alongside academic tests.

Ofsted has noted sufficient benefits to be derived from a focus on creativity and with this additional push in favour of creativity from the education committee, now might be an opportune time to focus on boosting creativity among staff members as part of CPD.   

This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2007

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.