Halterworth Primary School are working in partnership with the University of Winchester to explore the enablers and barriers of teaching for creativity and the interaction with inequality and disadvantage, on helping develop teachers’ and pupils’ understanding of creativity and to foster self-beliefs.
What are you exploring?
Our research will explore the enablers and barriers of teaching for creativity and the interaction with inequality and disadvantage, to help develop teachers’ and pupils’ understanding of creativity and to foster their creative self-beliefs. Over three years, our Creativity Collaborative project aims to enrich children’s life chances by developing them into confident and creative problem-solvers. Engaging them through authentic, meaningful learning challenges and experiences, embedded in their lives and communities. We will also build a sustainable network of creativity mentors and develop leaders who communicate a belief in the power of creativity to transform lives.
Tell us about your progress so far
To launch our Collaborative, we held and introductory launch conference in March 2022. The conference was attended by our first cohort of new schools with teachers, leaders and governors. We invited a host of speakers including Stephan Vincent Lancrin, Deputy Head of the OECD, Ron Beghetto; international creativity expert and Professor Bill Lucas amongst other speakers. The day was an opportunity to agree our definition of Creativity and to be inspired by experts. The conference set the scene for our project and participants felt that they had developed a better understanding of what teaching for creativity was.
Our teacher research groups (TRGs) are held monthly. Since July 2022, we have been busy developing and embedding two main tools for developing our teaching for creativity. These are the metacognitive tool for teaching for creativity and the planning framework. The metacognitive tool has been developed by our group 1 teachers and encompasses the creative process, creative habits and core principles. The planning tool is a simple framework by which teachers have used as a scaffold when planning lessons to help them to develop the process more clearly and accurately.
At the start, teachers were planning one-off lessons, using the tools but this has eventually led to them planning entire units of work. It has been amazing to see the progress and enthusiasm of the teachers feeding back and talking about the progress they have made and the different units of work they have developed.
Additionally, some teachers have developed their own planning formats which incorporate the plan for teaching for creativity alongside their medium- and short-term plans. The one underlying success has been that for our group 1 cohort, practices are now fully embedded and that having an opportunity to support group 2 teachers will further embed understanding and learning.
In January 2023, we introduced five further schools to the project through a conference, similar to the first one we held. For our first TRG, we ran groups 1 and 2 concurrently supporting and sharing the work we have done so far to get group 2 up to speed.
One of the main successes so far has been when we have given group 1 teachers the opportunity to share the work they have completed so far. Hearing them speaking so confidently and passionately and seeing how far they have come since the beginning of the project has been incredible.
It has been interesting gauging initial feedback from our group 1 teachers. Barriers discussed have included constraints within individual school priorities, OFSTED preparation, perceived ‘permissions’ from leadership teams, time, fear of change and developing and growing practice across schools. One thing, however, which we have learnt is that the power of collaboration is so powerful. We have seen our group of teachers go from strength to strength at our TRGs.
This academic year, we have continued to scale-up the project. In January 2023, we introduced five new schools to the programme. We held a subsequent launch conference, similar to the first one with the aim of sharing our expertise more widely and growing teaching for creativity across a broader variety of schools. We now have two groups of teachers working on the project and look forward to sharing our learning and expertise with the new group.
We also have plans for Winchester University to launch a new ITT curriculum and module around creativity for the first time. This will be a new and exciting addition to ITT provision.
From our TRGs, we know that teachers have really embraced the creative process and creative dispositions. Our next steps are to explore how the habits connect to the actual creative thinking processes we are expecting to help the pupils develop. Do the creative behaviours/habits actually change the thinking processes? How can we find out if a pupil’s work is actually more creative rather than varied? We also need to support teachers to be more critically evaluative about the impact of the changes they are making to children’s outcomes including the thinking process.
We are also reflecting on some of the challenges from year one of the programme. As with any new project implementation, we recognise the challenges around growth and sustainability. Despite a very successful year working with a core group of enthusiastic teachers, we will sadly be losing several of them who will be moving on to pastures new. This will impact, to some extent, on the successful implementation of the project within individual schools. Therefore, in practical terms, we will need to consider the development of a more robust infrastructure so that good practice can be harnessed and shared to protect the momentum of the project.
Gathering data lies at the heart of our project’s success. Initial data collection proved to be challenging and quite overwhelming for teachers and their schools. The amount of data, volume of parties involved, timings and expectations on schools is an on-going conundrum. Exploring ways of gathering data in a more efficient and timely way is a challenge we need to explore.
Lorraine Pattinson, Assistant Head of School at Halterworth Primary School