Reflecting on creative projects in schools

I've been reflecting on this year's Creative Partnerships projects in local primary schools.  There has been a real mixed bag – some brilliant and others less so. 


The work has involved making video usually alongside a drama practitioner. The projects are set up by the school to a very specific brief.  The brief will usually say that the school wants to focus on speaking and listening, confidence building and so on.   

Here are some bullet points from my reflections:

  • The best managed projects are not always the most valuable.
  • Most learning comes through a constructive response to failure.
  • An open brief is much better than a prescriptive one. 
  • Not enough effort goes into designing and initiating projects.
  • The ideas are rarely big enough.
  • Ambitious and risky projects are usually more rewarding.
  • The active visible support of the head teacher is vital.
  • The most interesting work is done while the creative practitioner is not present.
  • Teachers can be fully supportive or not supportive at all – the worst is when they are reluctantly supportive.
  • Allocation of roles and in particular the role of a project co-ordinator is vital.
  • Build in time for conversation and reflection.
  • Capturing evidence of success immediately is invaluable.
  • Trust the children.

 The most successful and sustainable project I've worked on is in a school which has been somewhat ambivalent towards new multimedia technology.  A media team made up of 6 children has championed the use of video and in particular green screen with great success.  The children are now teaching the teachers and hopefully contributing to a change of culture.

The next step is to look at the leadership of creative projects – in particular raising the ambitions and quality of the initial ideas.  Perhaps creating a model for project design and initiation -  but then the practitioner backing off and handing ownership to class teachers or the children themselves.