If you find yourself fatigued by the coverage of the Westminster General Election why not remind yourself about the positive power of democracy by reading the Welsh Government's Creative Learning action plan. This plan sets out a vision of a more creative and cultural Wales that drives improvement by fostering the creative capacities of its citizens.
The plan forms part of the Welsh Government's response to Professor Dai Smith's report on Arts education in the schools of Wales (2013) which gave twelve recommendations for how Wales could improve its offer in this sector. All twelve recommendations have been used to create the plan which aims to improve the overall quality and offer of the Welsh education system while at the same time ensuring that Welsh children are given greater access to culture and the arts.
The RSA is particularly pleased to see that an emphasis has been placed on the development of the creative capacities of teachers as well as pupils. Not only will there be a development of Lead Creative Schools to act as national exemplars but a programme of training will be rolled out across the whole country aimed at developing creative teaching methodologies. This programme involves schools working with regional creative leads as well as teacher training providers and the Arts Council of Wales. This focus on the skills of educators is vital for the long term sustainability of such a programme and should ensure that teachers will be able to benefit from the plan well beyond its five year pilot.
One of the most impressive elements of the plan is the way that it seeks to break down the walls of the classroom by inviting teachers and students to explore the cultural capital of their community, while at the same time inviting the community into the school. The RSA has previously explored such ideas through the Area Based Curriculum project. Schools working towards Lead Creative School status will work with a local creative professional to develop pedagogy, but also to improve access to creative opportunities in the area. This sort of collaborative thinking embraces the adage "It takes a village" and is at the very heart of the plan. We hope this means that schools and teachers will not be left feeling that this is yet another responsibility handed down to them, but rather that they are part of a wider plan to improve the lives of Welsh children.
The plan also makes a valiant effort to test the impact of creative learning by providing a clear guide to how it intends to evaluate impact. The effectiveness of the plan will be assessed against three main criteria:
Progress in attainment in numeracy and literacy;
The impact of the programme on reducing the difference in attainment of young people from different socio-economic backgrounds;
And the creativity of learners.
The Welsh Assembly has committed to publish progress relative to these measures yearly but importantly the plan as a whole will be given five years to bear fruit. This forward looking approach should avoid dangerous short-termism that often plagues educational reform and allows schools to acclimatise to a new way of working before declaring the initiative a success or failure.
On Tuesday 12 May RSA Fellows and the general public will be discussing the potential impact of this plan and what it might mean for Wales.(details to be released soon) RSA Fellow Yvonne Murphy will chair a debate and audience Q&A following presentations by David Anderson, Director General National Museum of Wales, Maria Amparo Asenjo, Architect and Panel member for the Design Commission of Wales and Tom Gilliford Project Engagement Manager for Creative Learning and Devlopment at the RSA. The event is aimed at exploring good practice, widening the creative scope and identifying the barriers the plan might face. Those attending are asked to consider the following questions and share their solutions, problem and opinions on the day:
(Q1)What are the implications for the creative, heritage and education sectors?
(Q2)How can we ensure that teaching environments match the aspirations expressed in the plan?
(Q3)What would indicate the success of the plan and how is this measured?
If you can't wait to share your thoughts and ideas why not be part of the conversation right away in the comments section below and via @RSAcymru using the hashtag #RSAcreativewales . We also want to hear what your burning questions would be if you came to the event.
Full details and booking instructions for May 12 will be available on the Wales|Cymru RSA webpage soon and published via our twitter feed.
If you want to know more about the work of the RSA then get in touch with our Regions and Project Engagement Teams who can tell you more:
If you're not already an RSA Fellow and you support our mission of 21st century enlightenment, find out more about joining us.
Rich is the Regional Manager for Wales & the Midlands, working to connect Fellows with the RSA’s work. Email him or follow him on Twitter @pickfordrich