Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Pupils motivated by creative approaches to learning

Creative approaches to learning can help raise school standards but secure subject knowledge and careful planning are vital, according to a report published today by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The report, Learning: creative approaches that raise standards, confirms that pupils’ motivation, progress and attainment in primary and secondary schools were improved by creative approaches to learning such as:

  • stimulating pupils with memorable experiences and practical activity
  • allowing pupils to question, explore and challenge ideas
  • encouraging pupils to think creatively
  • supporting pupils to reflect on and evaluate their learning.

Inspectors found that in schools with good teaching, there was no conflict between the National Curriculum and creative approaches to learning. These schools drew on content and skills specified in the National Curriculum in their planning and good practice. Pupils’ motivation was reinforced by the awareness they gained from tracking their own progress. Many disaffected or low attaining secondary school pupils in the schools visited gained confidence and then competence in their learning work.

Patrick Leeson, Director, Education and Care, Ofsted, said: 'When teachers use more creative approaches, pupils’ learning is more relevant and engaging, it fires their imaginations, they enjoy the challenge and feel a greater sense of achievement. Schools need to ensure that teachers are properly supported to keep their main focus on the quality of learning, so good leadership, sharing of best practice, continuing professional development and seeking new ways to improve learning are vital.'

The report noted that the effectiveness of creative approaches to learning depended on the quality of leadership and management, and teachers’ subject knowledge being secure and extensive enough to support pupils’ enquiry, independent thinking and debate. It was less effective where teachers lacked confidence in working creatively or were anxious about how this approach would help them meet performance targets.

One secondary school visited used drumming with a Year 8 class struggling to get a firm grasp of multiplication tables. After explanation from the teacher, the students worked in groups on a drumming routine to accompany the chanting of a different multiplication table, then the results were recorded and evaluated. The pupils enjoyed the activity, and it improved their understanding of pattern and structure and their recall of multiplication tables.

All the schools visited recognised the importance of assessment in creative approaches to learning. Ways of recording and evaluating pupils’ development, other than by tests at the end of a unit or a key stage, were not generally well-developed or embedded beyond the Early Years Foundation Stage. However, relatively few schools in the survey consistently tracked and evaluated small but steady improvements in a systematic and transparent way.

Inspectors found examples of productive partnerships between schools, and between schools and government-funded agencies and education foundations. The involvement of practitioners such as engineers, scientists and artists was seen to strengthen links between schools and the world beyond, and to enhance pupils’ opportunities to develop as creative learners.

Notes for Editors

1. The report, Learning: creative approaches that raise standards, can be found on the Ofsted website http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/Documents-by-type/Thematic-reports/Learning-creative-approaches-that-raise-standards

2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6899 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 08456 404040 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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