Summary of the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education

October 19, 2019

The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education report was launched this week, addressing creativity and creative thinking in the education system. The commission is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Durham University, which has consulted widely to establish definitions of creativity, creative thinking and teaching for creativity. 

Drawing on consultation and case studies from across England, the report assesses, recognises and demonstrates the value of creativity, and makes a series of 10 recommendations to ensure creativity is nurtured throughout education - within and beyond schools.  

The report seeks to influence national (English) policy, inform Arts Council England’s next ten-year strategy and contribute towards Arts Council England’s work with children and young people. We will be working together with members and industry to establish how we can take these recommendations forward to implementation. 

The Durham Commission’s key recommendations: 

  1. A national network of Creativity Collaboratives should be established, in which schools collaborate in establishing and sustaining the conditions required for nurturing creativity in the classroom, across the curriculum. 

  2. Government, Ofqual and the awarding bodies should work together over the next 2-3 years to consider the role of examinations and how scholarship and craftsmanship are recognised and rewarded in assessment frameworks.

  3. Schools that have successfully established and sustained conditions in which creativity is nurtured should be recognised and encouraged. Such success should be recognised in the Ofsted inspection process. Ofsted should share good practice case studies of teaching for creativity in a range of subjects and across phases. Ofsted should also continue to refine its inspection framework to further reduce incentives to ‘teach to the mark’ and make clearer that it is looking for teaching for scholarship and craftsmanship, not merely exam-passing.

  4. The DfE should support English schools’ participation in PISA 2021 evaluation of creative thinking in order to influence and shape future use of the framework.

  5. Higher education institutions, in conjunction with the DfE, should work with the Creativity Collaboratives to develop research informed practice to evaluate creativity, looking at how creativity and creative thinking can be identified across disciplines, and how its impact can be measured. 

  6. The education system should support young people to engage creatively and critically with the digital technology that is now a significant part of their everyday lives. 

  7. Arts and culture should be an essential part of the education of every child. 

  8. The purpose and place of creativity and teaching for creativity should be recognised and encouraged in the early years (0-4). 

  9. The Commission believes that in-school opportunities to develop creativity should be complemented by diverse routes to take part in creative activities outside of school hours. 

  10. Young people should be better prepared for the changing world of work. They need the creative capacities that employers seek and which will enable them to be resilient and adaptable, to pursue portfolio careers and engage in lifelong learning. Qualification frameworks should reflect the value of creativity for the current and future workforce. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education should review the current opportunities for developing creativity as a key capacity in emerging T level qualifications and existing Apprenticeship Standards.



The full report can be found here.

We will be working together with members and industry to establish how we can take these recommendations forward to implementation.

If you would like to provide any thoughts and feedback on the Durham Commissions report or recommendations, we’d be interested in hearing from you. Please contact

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