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CCE Research

Creative School Change

November 1, 2009

Author: Pat Thomson, Ken Jones (Directors), Nafsika Alexiadou, Chris Hall, Susan Jones, Jane McGregor, Nick Owen, Lisa Russell, Ethel Sanders.

Institution: The University of Nottingham and Keele University

Full reference: Thomson, P., Jones, K. and Hall, C. (2009). Creative School Change. Newcastle: Creativity, Culture and Education

Summary of key findings

This research, carried out before significant changes were made to the programme, which included the introduction of Change and Enquiry Schools and Schools of Creativity in 2008), investigated how schools were taking up the offer made by Creative Partnerships in order to further school change.

Involvement in Creative Partnerships contributed to change in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. These changes are set in the context of other strong influences on the work of schools, notably that of the National Curriculum, and of pressures upon schools to label and differentiate their pupils.

Schools regarded changing their relationships with parents and the community as an important part of their strategies for change. Some stated this was a long dated commitment pre-dating Creative Partnerships but it seemed that the engagement with Creative Partnerships stimulated these relationships to develop further in ways that were often (if not always) distinct from previous practice.

Research questions & methodology

‘Strategic sampling’ was used to select 40 snapshot schools. Each Creative Partnerships director was asked to nominate three schools which they considered to be good examples of Creative Partnerships supporting whole school change. Snapshot schools were then selected balancing phase (i.e. nursery, primary, secondary) and urban/rural description across the country.

All snapshot schools had their relevant documentation reviewed. Interviews were held with the head or member of senior leadership team, governors, focus groups of teachers and groups of students and in some cases individual teachers. Informal conversations and observations were recorded and there was some degree of triangulation of the interview data.

Following the interim report 12 schools were selected as case study schools. This then reduced to 11 case study schools when one was dropped due to other external pressures it was facing.

Visits to case study schools spanned two years and the aim was to generate data over time rather than produce intensive ethnographic studies. Each schools was visited three times and interviews with staff and students involved with Creative Partnerships and school senior management team members continued and lessons and Creative Partnerships activities observed.

Read the report.