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Plan to measure creativity

`Soft skills' needed by employers and missed by traditional tests and exams could be assessed.

Schools could soon be required to evaluate how creative pupils are.

The Government is investigating ways to measure creativity to ensure children are proficient in areas that are not appraised by existing tests, such as imaginative thinking.

Assessments would go beyond creative subjects such as art and music, with teachers expected to look at how pupils adopt a creative approach across the curriculum.

Qualities likely to be monitored under an assessment of creativity include taking risks, questioning and challenging, resilience, communication and teamwork - the "soft skills" that employers say are missing from existing tests.

Ministers revealed their plans in a response to a Commons select committee report on Creative Partnerships, the government-funded body that brings in artists, musicians, theatre directors and other creative professionals to work in 2,200 English schools each year.

The MPs told the Department for Children, Schools and Families: "Existing measures of progress, which focus on the attainment of key stages, are unlikely to capture small but steady improvements, or progress in areas such as self-confidence, teamworking and risk-taking."

Mr Balls has now signalled his intention to examine research being carried out by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and other organisations.

But teachers and experts have warned that a rigid approach to assessment could dampen the spark that ministers want to encourage.

Chris Beschi, a teacher who uses poetry, hip-hop and other music to inspire pupils in several London schools, said: "Preordained targets and success criteria will not aid the construction of creative learning environments - nor will the standardising of educational expectations, nor the competitive practice of comparing institutions by exam results and league tables."

A spokesman for the QCA said it recognised that assessment of creativity was an area that should be looked into, and that it was using a report on art and design as a starting point.

Paul Collard, Creative Partnerships' national director, said: "These skills can only be assessed by people on the spot; people who have known the children for a period of time."

He said Ofsted inspections could be used to verify assessments, but warned that using scores for league tables could distort the process.

- This week Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, announced plans to work towards giving all pupils five hours of "cultural" activities a week. The "cultural offer" for pupils will be piloted in 10 local authorities in England. They will receive total funding of pound;25 million over three years.

Leading article, page 28.

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