What happens at Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE)?
CCE is an international foundation committed to developing the creativity of children and young people around the world. A small team based in Newcastle help national, regional and local Governments, as well as private trusts and foundations, to design and develop ways of teaching and learning which nurture the creativity of young people. We define creativity as a set of interrelated skills which enable you to be curious, imaginative, resilient, disciplined and collaborative. Research shows that not only do these skills foster academic achievement and are highly prized by employers, they lay the foundations for a rewarding adult life.
Most recently we have been working with Arts Council Wales and the Welsh Government on the development and implementation of one of the most visionary and comprehensive cultural education strategies in the developed world, Creative Learning Through the Art. At the same time, we are piloting a creative way of teaching maths in southern Hungary, launching a new programme in 20 schools in Lahore Pakistan which will examine the role of creativity in alleviating poverty, testing a new on-line learning module developed with the support of Nottingham University for practitioners (both teachers and creative industry professionals) wanting to develop the skill to work in schools, rolling out a self-assessment tool developed with EU funding for creative professionals working in education, and advising a major German Foundation on a European strategy for cultural education. We have also been working both nationally and regionally in Norway exploring how our approach to creative education can support the Government's new focus on competency based learning and changes to their major national cultural education programme, the Cultural Rucksack. We have programmes and projects under-development elsewhere.
Do you feel there is a gap in the creative education that most young people receive?
This varies hugely between countries, between regions and even between cities and individual schools. At the national level pupils in schools in England are hugely disadvantaged by the ante-diluvium policies of the present government, especially when you contrast what they are offered in comparison to the strategies either in existence or in the process of being implemented in Scotland and Wales. Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence and Graham Donaldson's new Welsh curriculum Successful Futures set out the framework of a comprehensive and holistic approach to the education of young people, which is in stark contrast to the narrow, failing framework in place in England. Elsewhere in Europe we can see progress towards more competency based approaches to education which highlight the importance of nurturing creative skills. This is particularly apparent in Norway, with the publication of their new Schools of the Future report. In Sweden, where the main battle ground of their last general election focussed on education, the party responsible for implementing a set of policies on which Michael Gove had based his ideas was swept from power as the reforms had clearly failed to improve pupil attainment, while simultaneously widening social disparities.
How do you work together with schools?
We train creative professional to work in schools. There are two types. Creative Agents mentor and advise schools, helping them identify the issues that are holding back their pupils and devising projects which will address those problems. The Creative Agents then recruit creative practitioners to deliver those projects in partnership with teachers and pupils. CCE is generally responsible for the training of creative agents, practitioners and teachers who will participate in these programmes, and plays a lead role in designing the evaluation of these programmes.
In which ways can access to the creative subjects help those from disadvantaged backgrounds?
All subjects have the potential to be creative. By focussing on creating approaches to teaching and learning which ensure that there is space for pupils to develop their creative skills, CCE ensures that attention is paid to the fundamental building blocks of learning that children and young people need to succeed in any subject. For a variety of reasons, these skills are less developed in pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, but all pupils benefit from having the opportunity to develop these skills. The failure of the current Government in England to understand this is the primary reason that the gap between the academic achievement of disadvantaged and more advantaged pupils has grown over the last five years.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as an organisation?
As with all organisations, income is essential to our survival. While everyone is interested in what we do and would be happy to talk to us all day, we can only do what we do if we are paid. In the current economic environment this is hard to do, but so far we are succeeding.
What advice would you give to any young person who is looking to receive a more creative education?
In developing your creativity it is not so much what you learn, but how you learn. The practice that teachers deploy in the classroom is fundamental to nurturing your creativity. The practice of some teachers will achieve this. Others stifle creativity. For this reason it is important to talk to your teachers about your needs and get them to understand how they can help you.