At a difficult time when creativity and freedom of expression is under severe scrutiny, we explore the importance of nurturing talent and creativity, and the changes to funding and the national curriculum which foster this approach.
Creativity and academia are strange bedfellows. From a personal perspective, I took the academic train right through to post-graduate level, and it was always at odds with where I felt my talents lay, creativity and writing.
At the end of 2013, Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary was criticised for seemingly downgrading the non-core humanities subjects, saying that, in the past: “If you didn’t know what you wanted to do, then the arts and humanities were what you chose because they were useful for all kinds of jobs.
“Of course, we know now that couldn’t be further from the truth – that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock the door to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths),” she added.
This statement seems to be in conflict with the “broad and balanced” curriculum argument from Ofsted, and with the new national curriculum English syllabus which includes drama and Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural programmes encouraging diversity. So, the question to ask would be: Is the greatest act of rebellion actually to look towards something other than academia?
The head of a prestigious boarding school recently subverted the traditional rhetoric of academia saying that: “Challenging rules can be a precursor to instigating change or progress”.
He cited acts of social rebellion by Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as noting some of our greatest thinkers, such as Stephen Hawking, inventors like Sir James Dyson, politicians, such as the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher, and entrepreneurs including Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar. These people were not academics, but creative thinkers who reached the highest echelons of our society by breaking the established rules of their sectors and, in several cases, by dropping out of school as early as they could.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Nigel Lashbrook, headmaster of Oakham School, mentions Priestley, Dalton and Lavoisier and other academic “icon[s] of resistance”, but as part of “Rules and Rebellion Week”, pupils from Oakham School had the chance to try a variety of non-academic workshops, lectures, seminars and activities run by leaders in various fields.
Many of the activities focussed on sport, drama, music and art including “The 1- Rules of Being a World-Class Athlete and how to break them” and poetry workshops.
So in a financial climate where every penny spent must yield achievement, is the real rule breaker the school which budgets for enrichment activities and encourages pupils to follow their talents? Sports funding can be used to create the Olympians that will compete in 2016 and beyond and funding for the arts and music might develop the next Damian Hurst or Adele.
So how can YOU fund music, sport and art? Take a look at Primary School Sports Funding and our Arts and Sports grants topics for non-core funding and for more guidance on the creative aspects of the new English curriculum. To view the full curricula, take a look at our Primary and Secondary topics.