Learning: creative approaches that raise standards

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Learning: creative approaches that raise standards

This survey produced by Ofsted, is taken from visits to 44 schools. All the schools had been judged good or outstanding in their most recent inspection in terms of their pupils’ enjoyment of learning, their preparation for future economic well-being and the curriculum.

There were different interpretations of what was meant by creativity. However, creative learning was widely understood to be characterized by:

  • Questioning and challenging
  • Making connections and seeing relationships
  • Envisaging what might be
  • Exploring ideas, keeping options open
  • Reflecting critically on ideas, actions and outcomes

Curriculum provision that best supported creative learning had the following characteristics:

  • well-organised cross-curricular links that allowed scope for independent enquiry
  • inclusiveness, ensuring that it was accessible and relevant to all pupils
  • a focus on experiential learning, with knowledge, understanding and skills developed through first-hand, practical experience and evaluation
  • well-integrated use of technology
  • effective preparation of pupils for the next stage of their learning, training or employment
  • a broad and accessible enrichment programme
  • clear and well-supported links with the local community and cultures, often drawing on local knowledge and experience to enhance pupils’ learning
  • a flexible approach to timetabling to accommodate extended, whole-school or whole-year activities
  • partnerships that extended pupils’ opportunities for creative learning

The most effective teaching:

  • guided rather than over-directing pupils
  • placed emphasis on developing skills, especially problem-solving and communication
  • used excellent questioning skills
  • engaged and challenged pupils with widely differing abilities
  • used many kinds of technology effectively
  • used role play
  • made good use of partnerships

The key findings were:

  • In schools with good teaching, there is not a conflict between the National Curriculum, national standards in core subjects and creative approaches to learning.
  • The good teaching that was seen included good questioning, debate, experimentation, presentation and critical reflection
  • Creativity was interpreted differently but most creative learning included encouraging pupils to question and challenge, make connections and see relationships, speculate, keep options open while pursuing a line of enquiry, and reflect critically on ideas, actions and results
  • In a small number of schools the pupils’ personal development as creative learners was not matched by their progress in core academic skills
  • Pupils made little progress when expectations weren’t high enough. In some cases pupils were allowed to follow their own interests to too great a degree
  • Creative learning required a high quality of leadership and management and placed demands upon teachers’ subject knowledge
  • Good professional development was a key factor
  • A whole-school commitment to developing and using technology enhanced pupils’ confidence and engagement
  • Work needed to be done on recording and evaluating pupils’ development as learners at interim points and not just at the end of the unit or key stage
  • Partnership learning made a positive contribution

Recommendations included:

  • That in all schools pupils should be encouraged to ask questions, hypothesise and share their ideas
  • Ensuring that curriculum planning balances the need for creative ways of learning as well as ensuring National Curriculum coverage
  • Providing appropriate continuing professional development
  • Ensuring that all pupils develop skills in technology to support independent and creative learning
  • Encouraging the development of partnerships
Creative Teaching & Learning