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OUR PUBLICATIONS > Creative and Performativity Policies in Primary Schools

OUR PUBLICATIONS > Creative and Performativity Policies in Primary Schools

CCE Research

Creative and Performativity Policies in Primary Schools


September 6, 2008

Author: Bob Jeffrey, Geoff Troman and Elena Zezlina Phillips

Institution: Open University, Roehampton University

Full reference: Jeffrey, R., Troman, G. and Zezlina-Phillips, E. (2008). Creative and Performativity Policies in Primary Schools. In: BERA Annual Conference, 3-6 September 2008, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.

Summary of key findings

This research examines discourses operating in primary schools that are generated by education policies concerned on the one hand with creative teaching and learning and creativity and on the other performance and performativity. It relates these discourses to the background of wider changes in schools’ cultures towards greater openness and managerialism and the need to maintain image and status in a market context. The report discusses the recent rise in the creativity discourse after the dominant influence of inspection and testing in the1990s. It identifies different ways in which the performativity discourse operates.

The researchers found that stark polarisation of the two discourses was not
prevalent. They observed that through approaches described as ‘smart teaching’ the two discourses were manipulated such that creative teaching was used to integrate assessment for National Curriculum objectives with creative work. The desire to be progressive, responding to new policy initiatives, to integrate some creative practice and to maintain performativity led to the creation of tensions within institutions by intensifying their work and activities.

Research Questions & Methodology

The research project set out to probe the following areas:

  • Perceived tensions between the creativity and performativity policies and the dilemmas and opportunities this creates for teachers and pupils;
  • Coping strategies used to ameliorate these tensions and dilemmas;
  • The educational identities being constructed in the context of the two policy imperatives.

This paper addresses the first of these objectives, the others are to be dealt with in later papers. The researchers used an ethnographic approach. Evidence examined included 52 days’ observational field notes, 30 conversations with teachers and other significant adults and 32 conversations with learners, collected in six primary schools across five Local Education Authorities.

Go to the journal article.