QCA has been working alongside teachers to develop creativity across the curriculum. In discussion with English and drama teachers, QCA has highlighted examples of pupils' creativity in these subjects to help teachers investigate the factors which develop it. These are just snapshots of the wealth of evidence gathered so far:
* A Year 8 girl who has long struggled with reading is reading aloud to the rest of the group a critical section towards the end of Susan Gates's novel Cry Wolf. She stumbles to the end of one difficult sentence, unsure of the meaning, pauses, goes back to the start and reads it again, this time with a full grip on the sense. The rest of the class remain absorbed in the story and, in the subsequent discussion, they show their appreciation of the girl's reading.
* A mixed-age key stage 3 drama group is working on the scene from Lord of the Flies where Ralph is being chased by the other boys through the undergrowth. Apart from Ralph, the group has adopted frozen positions as part of the forest. The teacher asks a pupil to take over directing the scene, a role they have never undertaken before. The pupil takes up the direction, at first continuing the teacher's interpretation, but then moves the drama on by suggesting the group forest should actively restrict Ralph's progress.
* In a literacy hour with a Year 4 clas the focus was on the structure and content of a selection of list poems. One boy uses this structure in a sustained, humourous and powerfully understated way to write a poem, If I moved house, which draws on detail from a wide range of his experiences including his pets, hobbies, neighbours' cats, naughty boys from another school and his parents' separation.
In this first year of the three-year creativity project, it is too early for conclusions about the notoriously slippery concept of creativity. It is, however, already clear that creativity is not the preserve of the few, nor is it restricted to particular subjects. What strikes us about these examples is both their individuality and their recognisable ordinariness.
So what can we say about pupils' creativity? What we see in these examples are pupils who generate ideas in their work and look for alternatives and different possibilities. They adapt and extend their tasks in unexpected ways. They make meaningful connections between what they encounter in the lesson and other aspects of their experience both within the curriculum and beyond it.
Refining and clarifying these common features is the next important stage of the project.
Sue Horner and Alastair West are members of the QCA English team, 83 Piccadilly, London W1J 8QA. Tel: 020 7509 5555.Web: www.qca.org.uk