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OUR PUBLICATIONS > Learning: creative approaches that raise standards

CCE Research

Learning: creative approaches that raise standards

October 18, 2010

Author: Ofsted

Institution: Ofsted

Full reference: Ofsted. (2010). Learning: creative approaches that raise standards (HMI: 080266)

Summary of key findings

This survey evaluates and illustrates how 44 schools used creative approaches to learning and evaluates the impact on pupils’ achievement and personal development.

The surveyed schools had aspirations for their pupils to ask questions independently, make connections between ideas, think creatively, challenge and participate effectively, and reflect on their learning. The inspectors found that almost all the surveyed schools were making effective use of creative approaches to learning and that this had ‘a perceptible and positive impact on pupils’ personal development, and on their preparation for life beyond school’. Another finding was that schools in challenging circumstances (higher than average proportion of pupils eligible for free schools meals, low attainment on entry, and high rates of pupil mobility) showed the greatest improvements in a range of outcomes.

The inspectors found good examples of creative styles of learning embedded successfully within the National Curriculum and concluded that ‘[i[n schools with good teaching, there is not a conflict between the National Curriculum, national standards in core subjects and creative approaches to learning’.

Commenting specifically on the 18 schools visited for the survey that had been, or still were, engaged with the Creative Partnerships programme, the inspectors noted that since the 2006 Ofsted report ‘Initiative and Impact’ looking at 36 Creative Partnerships schools,

‘Effective steps have been taken to:

  • improve clarity, rigour and coherence in selecting schools to participate;
  • use local knowledge to direct resources and to challenge specific schools, for example ones where the local authority has pointed to dull learning and hard-to-shift underachievement;
  • monitor systematically, tracing the impact of targeted intervention;
  • clarify roles, linked to planning and evaluation, to ensure that interventions are realistically aligned to pupils’ starting points and meet the needs of specific groups.

Since April 2008, schools applying to be included in the programme must move through a phased selection process. The deciding factors have similarities to Ofsted’s own inspection criteria: well-supported self-evaluation leading to detailed development planning, with the promotion of creative learning as a priority and with substantial scope for pupils to contribute to decision-making and review. Among the ten secondary and eight primary schools visited for the survey that had been, or still were, engaged with the Creative Partnerships programme, there had been notable improvements in their levels of achievement and in measurable aspects of personal development, such as attendance.’ (pp. 40 – 41).

The report makes a number of recommendations including that the Department for Children, Schools and Families should put in place guidance and support to promote the implementation of recommendations made by the National Council for Educational Excellence for the further development of partnerships between higher education, business and schools and that all schools should:

  • in curriculum planning, balance opportunities for creative ways of learning with secure coverage of National Curriculum subjects and skills;
  • support and sustain partnerships that have the potential to develop pupils of all abilities as confident and creative learners.

Research Questions & Methodology

Inspectors visited two nursery schools, 22 primary schools, 19 secondary schools and a special school. Additional evidence was drawn from visits to over 180 other schools, as part of Ofsted’s programme of subject survey inspections. The schools selected for the survey represented a broad geographical and socio-economic range. All had been judged good or outstanding in respect of pupils’ enjoyment of learning, pupils’ preparation for future economic well-being and the curriculum in their most recent school inspection. Of the 44 schools visited, 10 of the secondary schools and eight of the primary schools were working with the Creative Partnerships programme.

Read the report.