In too many schools creativity is in danger of being unintentionally sacrificed to the need to pass these stringent but necessary tests. The testing of core subjects is important but schools need to strike a balance. Too often, untested activities such as arts and crafts are exiled to the boundaries of stretched schedules. And the prescriptive detail of literacy and numeracy hours in primary schools - 10 minutes spent doing exactly this and 10 minutes doing exactly that - makes inventive teaching harder.
It is ironic that while the Government has been on an emotive recruitment campaign based on inventive teaching - nobody forgets a good teacher - it is in danger of restricting the inventive teaching of key skills at an early age. Teachers have a tough job in winning the interest of a class of more than 30 children with differing abilities. And although a structured framework helps children to learn, it should not be too rigid. Teachers need the flexibility, especially with words and numbers at primary school level, to animate learning in just the way that they know will grab the attention of their pupils. Equally important as the creative teaching of conventional subjects are creative activities themselves. There is more to learning, and life, than just English, maths and science. And, although a child does need to be literate before writing out a made-up story, many children are, at some stage, slow to learn the three Rs. For these children persistent failure can be discouraging, if not alienating, and it is crucial to their continued interest in education that they succeed somewhere at school. Drawing and drama, the arts and crafts, can often provide that forum. For those children whose parents do not encourage them to build, draw and act at home, their only creative stimulus outside school may be television or, at best, a computer game.
Imagination has long been one of Britain's best exports. This country has produced some of the world's greatest novelists, rock musicians and software designers. Even the Paris fashion houses are now being guided by young British designers. We must continue to nurture these creative instincts.Reuse content