Simple steps to creativity

29th August 2003 at 01:00
Inspectors identify straightforward ways to encourage children to use their imaginations. Helen Ward reports

TEACHERS do not have to adopt radical methods to draw out children's creativity - but simply listen and work closely with pupils, say inspectors.

Office for Standards in Education inspectors visited 42 schools to find the best ways of developing creativity in children.

Their report Expecting the Unexpected identified five key qualities that teachers who promote creativity in children had. These teachers:

* demonstrated their own creative thinking to pupils;

* made opportunities for creativity;

* had good subject knowledge;

* were good team players;

* saw both success and failure as ways of learning.

The report added that headteachers' support for teaching that stimulated children was vital.

The inspectors found creativity was stifled by teachers who were unwilling to let pupils experiment, rigid timetables and demands for high or much-improved test results.

The report also found some teachers wrongly thought being creative meant using the arts to teach a non-arts subject. One example was as an RE lesson where pupils made drawings of religious concepts, but only came up with the visual cliches.

The report said uncertainty about funding and the amount of time it took to bid for relatively small amounts of money made schools consider pulling out of some projects aimed at improving creativity by working with outside agencies.

A second Ofsted report Improving City Schools: How the arts can help found behaviour in arts lessons is often better than in other lessons. It also found nearly half the 500 secondary schools with the lowest number of pupils gaining five good GCSEs did better than average in at least one arts subject.

Chief inspector David Bell said: "These reports are proof that teachers are taking creativity seriously and acknowledging the importance of innovative activities in the classroom. Crucially, we have found that such an approach can help to motivate and inspire young people."

Leader, 12

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