In October 2021, Arts Council England announced funding of £2,780,000 to build a network of schools that will test a range of innovative approaches to teaching for creativity. The Penryn Partnership was selected as one of the eight national pilots, led by Penryn College.
The funding has been generously supported by Freelands Foundation and has been granted to eight lead schools, who each work with a network of at least a further eight schools. The networks trial varied methods of teaching that help children and young people develop their creative capabilities and evaluate their effectiveness. The pilot will run until July 2024, testing out teaching approaches and curriculum development which can then be applied more widely throughout the education system.
In Year 1 of the Penryn Creativity Collaborative, we set out to Question, Challenge and Explore, working towards creating a Preparing for a Creative Future framework. Through explorative research across the learning community, we explored three questions: Why are creative skills needed in a changing workforce? What creative skills are needed to be developed by Cornish students to become better prepared? How do we best prepare teachers for Teaching for Creativity? From Spring 2022, working alongside the expertise of Associate Professor Kerry Chappell and Ursula Crickmay from the University of Exeter, we leaped into a range of explorative research methods: a literature review, a business and cultural partners survey, a range of focus groups, and interviews to explore approaches to Teaching and Learning across the Penryn Partnership.
Following a year of Questioning, Challenging and Exploring in Year 1, we felt more equipped with the understanding of why creative skills are needed and what creative skills are needed to become better prepared for a changing workforce for our Cornish students. During Year 2 (2022/23), our focus was on Building and Testing. We wanted to develop a model for developing pedagogy across a partnership of schools and to develop leaders and teachers who are promoting and implementing change for the Teaching of Creativity. 13 colleagues across the Penryn Partnership were inspired to participate in Action Research during the 2022/23 school year. Across the Learning Community, each Action Research coach explored their own research question linked to the emerging language around creative skills and pedagogy.
The Action Research programme promoted professional collaboration and helped to establish a team of staff as an evidence-based group. Working and learning with the expertise of the team from the University of Exeter, the teachers also worked with industry and cultural partners in their classrooms, allowing them to hold firm to our overarching question about how we prepare young people for a changing workforce. With the guidance and support of the University of Exeter, we wanted to ensure our Action Research allowed us the opportunity to measure the impact of our work.