Blog: Innovative governors - RSA

Blog: Innovative governors

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  • Creative Institutions and Systems

Earlier this year we surveyed school governors and trustees to try and determine what is being done to promote creative and innovative practice in schools around the UK. These governors and trustees made it clear that to foster creative practice in schools we need to place innovation and creativity at the heart of a school’s strategic vision; to collaborate more and to ensure creativity is valued by school leaders.

Governors and trustees play an important part in the development and strategic direction of a school and its approach to teaching. Entwining creativity into a curriculum is important for any school’s strategy if they want to have learners that are prepared for the economy of the future.

What did our survey tell us?

Curriculum Development Panels: Bringing together a panel of school representatives to discuss development of the curriculum, including presentations from the faculty and cross-curricular themed conversations.So how can governors help develop the creative capacity of their schools and what are the best ways to do it? As part of the survey we asked whether respondents had examples or ideas of how governors can help develop the creative capacity of schools. A number of key ideas and trends became apparent:

  1. Annual Strategy Days: Encouraging and supporting strategic thinking and innovation with annual strategy days. Within this environment governors bring an external perspective and can ensure creativity is at the heart of the curriculum.
  2. Alternative learning pathways: Approaching learning in a way that does not follow a ‘traditional’ lesson plan, for example, creative industry work placements, takeover days where pupils direct their own learning or Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE).
  3. Collaboration with schools: Teaming up with other schools to share resources, skills, ideas and funding.
  4. Collaboration with other organisations: Working with organisations like ArtsMark  and, as well as non-educational organisations such as local businesses and theatre companies to enhance learning opportunities both inside and outside school gates.
  5. Head teacher’s targets:  By making innovations and creativity part of the head’s targets, governors and trustees can ensure that the changes needed to develop a creative learning environment come from the top.
“I am committed to securing a "safe space" in which my school can afford to fail, where risks are managed and mitigated, so that staff and students can try new things, develop new skills, and build the value of difference”. - Survey Respondent

Get involved with RSA: Innovative Education

Our survey suggests that by trusting and empowering a school community; its staff, students, governors and trustees you also give them the confidence to experiment and take measured and sensible risks. Respondents made it clear that when we talk about creativity and creative learning in schools this doesn’t just mean bringing in ‘the arts’ but being creative in the way schools approach a curriculum, the way a teacher plans their lesson and the way governors support their schools to trial new approaches. 

The RSA wants schools and colleges to tackle ingrained inequality and prepare young people for the economy of the future. We believe that the best way to do this is to put power back into the hands of the educators and give them space to be creative. You can join the RSA in our mission to do just this:







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  • The 'annual strategy day' has been a big hit in terms of ensuring our governors focus on strategy, rather than compliance and operational issues. We persuaded all to get off the school site and also benefitted from goodwill to work in the clear air of a Saturday morning. The deliberate disruption of a different location and time ensured all arrived with a changed gear. In our context, the senior staff team acted as discussion facilitators in breakout groups. Productivity was far greater than at a 'normal' GB meeting. Now a firm fixture on our annual calendar this activity has helped develop far greater clarity and consensus on our big picture planning.

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