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Recognising how creativity and academic success go hand in hand, and understanding how it boosts teachers' job satisfaction, is key to building a lively and lasting educational ecosystem.

In this edition, Rebecca Underwood writes on the important topic of balancing academic outcomes whilst fostering creativity for all.

Creativity is an inherent part of learning. Whenever we try something new, there is an element of creativity involved. Dr Tim Patson 2021

In the intricate tapestry of education, students and educators alike, often find themselves at the intersection of two seemingly divergent paths: the pursuit of academic excellence (or for educators, keeping up with the research) and the yearning for creative expression. While our educational landscape has long focused on measurable outcomes be that grades, standardised test scores or academic achievements, there is a growing acknowledgment of the need to nurture creativity in tandem with academic rigor.

So, how do we strike a balance between these seemingly contrasting elements? Must they be contrasting? How can we ensure that students and educators not only excel academically but also cultivate their creative instincts, fostering a holistic approach to learning and teaching?

When teachers are empowered to infuse creativity into their pedagogical approaches, it not only enhances the learning experience but also contributes significantly to job satisfaction. A creative and innovative teaching environment often serves as a catalyst for boosting a teacher's sense of efficacy, instilling the belief in their ability to positively impact students' lives. This heightened self-efficacy, in turn, translates into increased effectiveness in the classroom, as educators are more inclined to experiment with diverse teaching methods and adapt to the unique needs of their students. Consequently, a positive cycle is established, leading to greater job satisfaction, improved effectiveness and ultimately contributing to the retention of experienced and passionate educators within the educational community.

Recognising how creativity and academic success go hand in hand, and understanding how it boosts teachers' job satisfaction, is key to building a lively and lasting educational ecosystem. Teaching continues to stand as an unparalleled profession; a privilege to impart knowledge and shape the future generations.

In an educational context, defining the term ‘creativity’ is crucial to guide curriculum development, teaching practices and assessment methods. It helps educators and students understand the parameters within which creative thinking is encouraged and evaluated. Central to this approach is the understanding that creativity encompasses a set of mental attributes which enable young people to succeed both in school and as adults in our complex and everchanging world. While some may see creativity strictly in terms of artistic expression, others may view it as problem-solving, critical thinking, or innovation in various disciplines. Recognising such subjectivity allows for a more inclusive approach to fostering creativity in education, accommodating diverse forms of expression and problem-solving that can contribute to a well-rounded learning experience. In essence, defining creativity in the context of education helps set expectations and provides a framework for cultivating and Wider Education System: Cat Scutt CCT 2023 5 assessing creative thinking skills, ensuring a more comprehensive and adaptable approach to learning. In light of this it is interesting to revisit the work of Coe and his proxies for learning:

The notion that one can enter a classroom and ‘see’ learning is a misguided one & as Rob Coe (2013) points out, engagement is often a poor proxy for learning. Teachers can be labouring under the delusion where ‘“I have taught it” becomes a proxy for “they have learned it”, without a need for any independent check on what (if anything) has actually been learned’ (Coe, 2013, p. 12). Deep learning is hard work. The effort of active learning can be misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning. Equally a superstar lecturer can explain things in such a way as to make students feel like they are learning more than they actually are. Harvard Study – 2023 Sept 4: Louis Deslauiers

Let’s pause, because in this context, Avanti emerges as a beacon, leading the way in bridging the gap between academic pursuit and creative expression. Emphasising character formation and acknowledging the significance of values alongside academic achievements, Avanti are already ahead of the game. The successful implementation of the Teacher Toolkit has allowed each school to be creative with their approaches and it has impressive seeing the positive outcomes of these carefully created systems across all schools.

This delicate dance between outcomes and creativity may pose a unique challenge for students, who, in the quest for success, grapple with the expectations imposed by traditional academic structures. The question that echoes in classrooms is whether the relentless pursuit of grades inadvertently stifles the fertile ground where creativity thrives. From the student's perspective, this is not merely an academic discourse; it is a lived experience, a journey through the labyrinth of assignments, exams and the unspoken desire for self-expression.

At Avanti, we have witnessed the positive impact of the Primary CUSP Programme across all curriculum subjects. It is evident in lessons and student work samples as well as recent cross school moderation sessions. One potential reason for its success is that UNITY promotes creativity at every stage, and this, alongside Principal and Teacher autonomy is what makes this and any curriculum, a success. It's a life jacket and not a straight jacket, hopefully empowering both educators and students for an all-inclusive, rich and impactful educational journey. And one main reason for why CUSP is working well, is that UNITY themselves aim and promote creativity at every stage. This, alongside Principal and Teacher autonomy and a positive school culture is essential.

Lauren Meadows “If we want children to have the best chance of remembering what they have learned, we want to activate both their semantic memory and their episodic memory. CUSP simply provides a framework for how knowledge can be sequenced in a way that helps pupils to revisit it over time.

The connecting of knowledge, or schema-building, simply addresses the semantic memory. It is the teachers' skill and knowledge of their children that will set this knowledge in children's episodic memories, through explicit instruction and then rich and varied opportunities to explore, play, talk, sing, move...”

We must also recognise that the call for ‘creativity’ resonates not only with students but equally with the educators shaping their learning experiences. Teachers, too, stand at the crossroads of conformity and innovation, seeking a balance between delivering prescribed curricula and fostering an environment where their creativity can flourish. When educators find fulfilment and joy in their work, it creates an environment where students not only learn effectively but also find inspiration and enthusiasm for their studies. 6 Of course, recognising the importance of outcomes in education is vital, as positive results not only signify academic achievement but also open doors to a myriad of opportunities for children. Academic success serves as a gateway, paving the way for expanded educational opportunities, scholarships, and the chance to pursue higher levels of learning.

“What we learn with pleasure, we never forget” - Alfred Mercer.

What you wholeheartedly understand and are passionate about, you'll teach with unparalleled excellence. Teaching is not just about what you know; it's about how well you understand it. The depth of your knowledge is reflected in your ability to impart wisdom effectively to your students, fostering a richer and more meaningful learning experience. The CUSP program provides ambitious content, ensuring alignment across our trust. Each school's unique curriculum intent and learning culture harmoniously integrate with this framework, empowering both educators and students for a rich and impactful educational journey.

We want to equip staff with the tools and training to foster creativity in their teaching methods and encourage them to create an inclusive and open-minded classroom atmosphere that values diverse perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. Students' deep engagement isn't simply sparked by external influences; it is profoundly shaped by your personal connection as educator. As their guide, you possess the key to unlocking the essence of their success. What an inspiring and rewarding responsibility it is to nurture these remarkable journeys! It is in this carefully blended environment, where educator autonomy is encouraged that the scales tip towards a harmonious blend of outcomes and creativity for all. Getting that balance just right isn't just about doing well in school—it's about igniting a love for learning that sticks with students and teachers alike. It's a real testament to how education can have a long-lasting impact that goes beyond the classroom.

In the voyage of education and personal development, the metaphor "A ship is safe in harbour, but that's not what ships are for" resonates deeply. The harbour symbolises the familiar and secure, mirroring the comfort zones we often find ourselves in. Yet, the essence of growth lies in venturing beyond these safe havens. The journey of learning, much like a ship at sea, involves navigating through uncharted waters, embracing challenges, and exploring new horizons. While academic endeavours may provide a secure harbour of structured knowledge, it is in the uncharted waters of creativity that the true purpose of education unfolds.

“To improve our schools, we have to humanize them and make education personal to every student and teacher in the system. Education is always about relationships. Great teachers are not just instructors and test administrators: They are mentors, coaches, motivators, and lifelong sources of inspiration to their students.” Ken Robinson 201

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