“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
- Steve Jobs
In 1997 the Government’s ‘Excellence in Schools’ report argued that unlocking the potential of every young person was of vital importance and concluded that Britain’s social stability and economic prosperity were dependant upon doing so.1
Following on from this the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (NACCCEE) published a report concluding that “a national strategy for creative and cultural education is essential to that process.”2
It argued that the importance of creativity in the workplace had become paramount and that this coupled with the Education Reform Act’s emphasis on the need for education to equip young people for that working life, meant that developing creative abilities should be seen as a general function of education as it would benefit all children.3
One outcome of this report was the introduction of the government’s flagship creativity programme for schools in 2002 called ‘Creative Partnerships’.
In 2006, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that children who had participated in that programme out-performed those in the same schools to a statistically significant extent across the national curriculum, including English, maths and science.4
Ofsted also found that Creative Partnerships not only improved their academic achievements but also significantly increased their aspirations.5
Creative Partnerships concluded that “we all need an ability not just to cope with change, but also positively to thrive on it and engineer it for ourselves. Therefore, young people need the tools to conceptualise how the world could be different, and the inner confidence and motivation to make it happen. They need to be able to take risks and fail confidently.”6
And yet Sir Ken Robinson who led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education argues in his seminal 2006 Ted talk that “we are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make and the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”7
Take for instance Ashburnham Community School on The World’s End Estate. Children living there are amongst the 20% most deprived in Britain.8 The number of pupils eligible for pupil premium funding is much higher than usual and children start school with skills at below the expected levels for their age9 despite the Government’s aim that all children should begin school with a head start in literacy, numeracy and behaviour. 10
Surely these are the children that most need their creativity nurtured if they are to change their circumstances.
It seems however that this is not the case as “living in quite an urban built up environment many of the children don’t experience the creative culture that we have in London and therefore they are limited with creative ideas.”11 Last year the school didn’t meet the government’s minimum standard for pupils’ academic progress, with an inspection report this April highlighting the fact that “many lessons do not capture pupil’s interest. This is because the curriculum is occasionally uninspiring and lacks imagination.”12
This all seems particularly worrying when considering that the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education’s report “All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education” highlighted businesses’ growing desire for creatively trained employees as early as 1999.This has only increased as global industry has continued to shift from manufacturing to fields such as science, technology, communications, and information.13
Project Colour is just one small way in which we have tried to encourage the creativity of children at Ashburnham Community School, creativity that is innate in all children.14
On the 16th July 2013 the children from Ashburnham Community School were able to draw straight onto a 15m2 digital billboard overlooking their school via our bespoke Project Colour App, installed on iPads set up in their playground. Working together with the school teachers we encouraged them to have fun painting their version of the World’s End Estate and to understand that there was no right or wrong answer, that however they chose to express themselves creatively was beautiful. A collage of all their drawings was then exhibited on billboards across London. Photographs of their work in situ were then used to create posters for the school noticeboards and hallways with each child also receiving a poster of their individual artwork to take home.
The aim of Project Colour was to celebrate the creativity of children at Ashburnham Primary School. We hope that this experience will encourage them to continue using the iPads and the Project Colour app whilst inspiring their creativity in all its forms. Furthermore we hope that despite this project only directly involving a small number of children it can contribute to and raise awareness of the on-going debate around creative education and inspire others to support the cause.
By DLKW Lowe
By DLKW Lowe
Creative Directors: Miguel Gonzalez / Theo Bayani
Creative Team: Lucian Trestler / Verity Williams
Account Director: Kate Banks
Account Managers: Ross Marshall / Lauren Ellis
Project Manager: Clair Carter
Head of Design: Jamie Craven
Designers: Nick Smith / Elizabeth Bolzon
Director: Isaac Bell
Camera / Editor: Phil Conway
Planner: Lucian Trestler / Verity Williams
With many thanks to our production partner, Everybody Engage for making the project possible;
MD: Steven Moffett
Account Director: Tristan Dauvergne
Camera: Simon Eves
1. National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, 1999.
2. National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, 1999.
3. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Creativity, Culture & Education – The Costs and Benefits of Creative Partnerships, 2010.
4. Arts Council England, This much we know… Creative Partnerships: approach and impact, 2007.
5. Arts Council England, This much we know… Creative Partnerships: approach and impact, 2007.
6. Arts Council England, This much we know… Creative Partnerships: approach and impact, 2007.
7. Sir Ken Robinson, Schools Kill Creativity, 2006.
8. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Index of multiple deprivation, 2007.
9. Ofsted, Inspection report: Ashburnham Community School, 24–25 April 2013.
10. Secretary of State for Education and Employment, Excellence in schools, 1997.
11. Ofsted, Inspection report: Ashburnham Community School, 24–25 April 2013.
10. Bella Street, Associate Head Mistress of Ashburnham Community School, In interview with Lucian Trestler, 2013.
12. National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, 1999.
13. Sir Ken Robinson, Schools Kill Creativity, 2006