Schools 'must do more to promote creativity'

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The Independent Online

An all-party group of MPs has attacked the Government for giving low priority to encouraging creativity in schools.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has shown that it considers children's creativity to be a "second order priority" by allocating only £2.5m, says a report released today by the Commons Select Committee on Education.

"The DCSF gives the impression that these issues concerning creativity are peripheral to their core responsibilities in education and children's services," it concludes. "We believe that the best education has creativity at its heart."

The MPs say there are grave concerns that creativity and innovative approaches to teaching "may have been unintentionally stifled" following the introduction of the national curriculum – with its emphasis on testing pupils at seven, 11 and 14.

However, it adds that there is evidence of some schools providing "inspiring, creative learning" while still fulfilling their legal obligation to teach the national curriculum and urges a further inquiry to determine whether their practice can be spread or if there should be a fundamental shift of emphasis in the curriculum.

The report also calls on ministers to give urgent consideration to introducing new methods of assessing children's creative work – such as issuing certificates to show how they have developed more confidence or risk-taking abilities through creativity.

It says that there was overwhelming evidence from headteachers that encouraging creativity improved children's confidence, communication skills and motivation.

However, it rejects the idea that promoting creativity in schools should be linked to the Government's drive to raise standards.

"The evidence linking creative programmes and better attainment remains tentative at best but this does not concern us unduly," it adds.

"We believe that creativity has value in its own right and that improved attainment, while to be welcomed, should be viewed as an additional benefit rather than the main purpose of the programme."

It adds that the Government's "creative partnerships" scheme – under which artists and creative practitioners are sent into selected schools – should be expanded to cover all British schools.

The scheme should widen its definition of creative practitioners to include scientists and entrepreneurs, the MPs say.

"We are not convinced that there is a coherent view of creativity's place in wider policy on children's services at national level," the report adds.

* The Government was forced to abandon its plans to claw back cash from schools' reserves. Ministers provoked an outcry from headteachers after indicating they wanted the right to redistribute 5 per cent of cash unspent at the end of the financial year.

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