Author: Centrifuge Consulting
Institution: Centrifuge Consulting
Full reference: Centrifuge Consulting (2012) _Evaluation of the wider impacts of the Schools of Creativity Programme_ (Newcastle: Creativity, Culture and Education)
The purpose of the Creative Partnerships Schools of Creativity programme worked with a select group of 57 schools, who were identified as being committed to, and exhibiting outstanding practice in, creative teaching and learning with the aim of *extending creative practice and engagement beyond their own schools*.
Guidance from Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), who ran the Creative Partnerships programme, identified the following three core aims of the Schools of Creativity strand and participating schools:
There was a clear strategic ambition to support the development of a schools led movement that would be capable of taking forward the creative learning agenda at local, regional and national levels, thereby securing the legacy of Creative Partnerships and CCE beyond programme funding.
This study aimed to look beyond the school gates of those directly supported through the Schools of Creativity programme to ascertain whether or not these schools were seeking and having a wider effect on their community and educational networks.
Key Findings included:
1. All Schools of Creativity are engaged in a wide range of networks and relationships with other learning partners.
2. All Schools of Creativity have an aspiration to spread creative practice by working with and influencing these partners.
3. The external networks and relationships of Schools of Creativity are complex with a range of contributing factors at play which all affect the degree to which each School of Creativity achieves this aspiration.
4. Work with external learning partners such as schools and other teaching professionals’ have resulted in individual and organisational level outcomes within one of the following four categories:
a. Developing creative leadership;
b. Developing creative delivery;
c. Transferring creative culture and values; and
d. Building the evidence base.
5. School of Creativity interactions with their community partners have resulted in the following outcomes:
a. Increased community and parental participation in school and creative or learning opportunities;
b. Embedding and reinforcing the role of the school within, and relationships with, their community; and
c. Providing additional resources to enrich the learning experience for students.
6. Despite complexities there are some commonalities between different Schools of Creativity. In recognition of this, the study provides a typology outlining four ‘types’ of School of Creativity in terms of their outward facing activities.
a. Networked sharing schools;
b. Networked mentoring schools;
c. Locally focused sharing schools; and
d. Locally focused mentoring schools.
7. The researchers note however that it is important to recognise that there are consistencies across the whole group. These are:
a. A commitment to embedding creativity in all aspects of the schools’ activities and relationships;
b. The use of external partners and resources to enrich the educational experience; and
c. A direct relationship between practice and the wider perspective.
8. Leadership is central to determining the external partners a School of Creativity works with. Who takes the leadership role, and how they interpret this, is therefore the key factor in successfully widening the impact of any given School of Creativity.
9. Participation in the Schools of Creativity programme is an important factor in enabling the wider impacts of these schools.
10. Networking should be recognised as key to the Schools of Creativity programme and its ongoing legacy.
11. Although the additional resources made available by the programme were invaluable to school activity, these were not major in scale. It is clear that creativity is embedded within Schools of Creativity and will not disappear with the cessation of the programme. However, it must be recognised that financial pressures will impact on the scale and types of activity undertaken as well as the degree to which these schools will be able to commit resources to outward facing activity with external partners.
12. Despite the challenges presented by loss of funding the researchers believe there is some potential for Schools of Creativity to utilise their existing networks and relationships to co-commission Creative Partnerships-type activity in the future, particularly where relatively strong local and regional networks exist.
13. Evidence was found that the majority of the case study schools intend to continue sharing creative practice and working with other schools and the wider community. Therefore as well as the continuation of a formal network of Schools of Creativity there is scope for individual schools to offer services such as mentoring and professional development more widely, an approach which could be coordinated.
14. The experiences of the Schools of Creativity highlight the potential of a Hub and Spoke model to support creativity in education and learning through which exemplar schools involved in a programme are formally linked to other schools less advanced in their creative journey.
15. ‘Creative Champions’ have proved central to driving forward and embedding creativity both within Schools of Creativity and their wider networks and support for maintaining the work of these champions should be explored through an ‘alumni’ programme.
The evaluation aimed to answer the following four questions:
1. What makes a successfully networked Schools of Creativity?
2. How is it networked with other schools and the wider community?
3. What differences does it make within this network?
4. How sustainable is the approach?
The study involved: