Headlines: January 15th, 2010

School standards can be improved by using creative approaches to learning according to an Ofsted report today but the inspectors stress that teachers must have secure knowledge of their subjects and say careful planning is vital. The report also points to the need for good leadership if creative approaches are to be effective.

Today’s report, ‘Learning: creative approaches that raise standards’, says pupils’ motivation, progress and achievements in both primary and secondary schools were improved by creative approaches to learning including stimulating students with memorable experiences and practical activity, allowing them to question and challenge ideas and supporting them to reflect on their own learning.

The Ofsted inspectors found no conflict between the National Curriculum and creative approaches to learning in schools with good standards of teaching. Many disaffected or low attaining pupils in secondary schools the inspectors visited gained confidence and competence in their work. The report says the effectiveness of creative approaches depends on the quality of leadership and management and on teachers’ subject knowledge being strong and extensive enough to support pupils’ questioning and debate. It was less effective where teachers lacked confidence in working creatively or were worried about how the approach would help them meet performance targets.

Inspectors also found examples of schools working productively in partnership with one another and with government-funded agencies and education foundations. Involving outside professionals such as engineers, scientists and artists was also giving pupils the chance to develop as creative learners.