Creativity isn’t just a theoretical essential job skill of the future, it’s an essential job skill right now and research shows us that creativity in the curriculum isn’t just a desirable thing to have – it’s an indispensable human skill and a vital component in an increasingly technology-driven world. Dallington School takes us through its creative curriculum…

The late, great Ken Robinson famously asked, “Do schools kill creativity?”. His view was that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and should be treated with the same status.

A truly creative curriculum is not an easy thing to build, and designing creative learning opportunities for children certainly takes a lot of time and attention to get right, but when they are thoughtfully planned, challenging and engaging, and you observe the key components of a successful creative curriculum, such as curricular-related trips, art, outdoor learning and performing arts, all very much in evidence as they are at Dallington, you know that we know what we are doing.

We understand that learning should be made relevant to our children’s everyday lives; subjects are never taught in silos but are interconnected and interdependent through enquiry-based topic work. This helps to increase engagement, helps children to understand and enables them to retain content and knowledge for much longer.

Observation and reflection further enhance the advantages of this method of learning; children are asked to reflect on what they have learned and observe each other’s work and discuss what was most interesting and relevant to them.

The Centre for Real-World Learning has a five-dimensional creativity model to describe five habits of mind, which we aim to instill in our children: imaginative, inquisitive, persistent, collaborative and disciplined. As children acquire these tools, creative thinking can genuinely be taught in the classroom and children will get the most out of their learning.

In most schools teachers have an ever-lengthening list of content and skills to cover in a busy school year, and creativity doesn’t always get much of a look in. It’s thought of as a seemingly soft skill, rather like communication and collaboration (also essential life skills) – theoretically great to have but not nearly as important as spending time on mathematics or literacy.

However, we know that it is high levels of creativity which generate the very innovative ideas that keep the world afloat. Many schools seem out of sync with what future employers are looking for in prospective employees and thus many young people are ill-prepared for future success.

At Dallington School, embedding creativity in all that children do and encouraging curious endeavour are an absolute priority: we have observed over the years that creativity is a real intrinsic motivator to learn; children enjoy the way in which they learn so much they are sometimes unaware that this is what they are doing.

When children are focused on a creative goal, they are more absorbed in their learning, and more driven to acquire the skills they need to get there. It is also clear that when they can link their learning to what they are particularly interested in, their sense of control and competence in what they are doing has an enormous effect.

Creative work which threads its way through all subjects helps children connect new things they are learning with knowledge gained in prior projects: children need to be able to make connections between different subjects and stick knowledge together to be able to move forward with this amplified knowledge. Given the freedom to explore and learn new things from each other helps children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and emotional development.

There are a number of key components of the creative curriculum, all of which Dallington employs to the full. London extends our scope for exploring and diving deeper into the topics we study, with its myriad museums, art galleries, exhibitions and theatres, as well as natural wetlands, parks and woodland.

Every week at least one group is out and about, extending what they have learned in the classroom, and taking advantage of the vast resources that London has to offer, connecting the different strands of their learning, and bringing topics to life.

Another important component of the creative curriculum is performing arts: music, dance and theatre run through our veins; different genres frequently linked to a particular theme that children are learning about elsewhere. Visiting musicians, artists, scientists and so on, further increase engagement and focus, and help children better understand and retain what they have learned.

We believe that creativity in the curriculum is an absolute given: that for children to learn to love learning, to embrace concepts and understand how everything is linked and connected, to retain knowledge they gain from one theme to another, approaching learning via the creative curriculum will give them the best start in life; enable them to move on at each stage of their education and life beyond, and be the true innovators of their generation.

Although building a creative curriculum takes time and effort, we all at Dallington know how much it helps us interact with the children, which in turn promotes development and learning and stimulates children’s social competence and helps form strong connections between school and home.