Creativity for children 'must be protected in new political climate'

Catherine Gaunt
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Creativity in children's early years is vital for the country's future economic growth, a new report argues.

Born Creative, published by think-tank Demos and arts education charity Creativity, Culture and Education, is launched against a backdrop of cuts to funding for the arts.

The series of essays, with a foreword by poet and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, calls for a greater emphasis on creativity in the EYFS and says that the Tickell review is an ideal opportunity to unleash children’s potential from birth.

Creative Partnerships and Find Your Talent, programmes designed to foster creativity in children, were both axed in the Government's comprehensive spending review.

CCE highlights independent research by PwC which shows that every £1 invested in Creative Partnerships generates the equivalent of £15.30 – a £4 billion net positive benefit for the UK economy.

The authors warn that cuts to funding could restrict children’s access to the arts and prevent them from developing creative skills.

Contributors to the essays include children’s ministers Sarah Teather and Tim Loughton, Bernadette Duffy, head of Thomas Coram Children’s Centre, childhood expert Tim Gill, and Anna Craft, professor of education at the University of Exeter and Open University.

In their contribution, the children’s ministers say that Government policy on children’s creative learning in future will be ‘free from centrist intervention’, trusting early years professionals and others to determine local services and targeting resources at the most needy children and families.

The report’s key recommendations include:

•    Bridge the gap between home and school by using creative learning to involve parents in their children’s education
•    Make museums more family-friendly
•    Give early years professionals, teachers and local authorities the opportunity to decide how to design local services and educational priorities
•    Don’t return to an outdated focus on literacy and numeracy.

Geethika Jayatilaka, director of communications at CCE, writes, ‘The Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage is a real opportunity for unleashing the potential of children from birth onwards. If the Government is serious about providing the economy with a skilled workforce fit for economic growth, then it must take this opportunity to support innovation and imagination right from the start of a child’s education.

‘This can be achieved with a greater emphasis on arts and creativity right across the early years curriculum. This will energise and develop the workforce, engage parents and help ensure that all children are equipped with the relevant skills to boost our economic recovery.’

Professor Anna Craft warns, 'In education, alongside cuts, the coalition Government has expressed a firm focus on the basics. From a ten-year policy position where creativity was highly valued and encouraged between practitioners, children and creative partners, future direction of policy and thus for early years providers is shrouded in uncertainty.'

Bernadette Duffy argues that a focus on creativity in the early years must continue. ‘We must not be tempted to narrow the curriculum and return to the outdated belief that concentrating only on literacy, numeracy and behaviour will strengthen early years practice,’ she writes.

© MA Education 2019. Published by MA Education Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 04002826. MA Education is part of the Mark Allen Group. – All Rights Reserved