Blog: Wanted! Creative leader case studies - RSA

Blog: Wanted! Creative leader case studies

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  • Picture of Tom Gilliford
    Tom Gilliford
    Former Project Engagement Manager
  • Education
  • Schools

School leaders (governors, trustees and senior teachers) are vital to the formation of a positive school culture. If this culture is going to champion creativity and innovation, it is these leaders who will set the tone and start the journey.

Innovative practice relies upon having not only the time and space to experiment but also the confidence that those to whom you are accountable will support you. It is important that staff feel that the structures in which they work encourage them to take creative and measured risks, learn from them, and progress as a result. School leaders play a vital role in this process. They must be careful to ensure that they actively hold staff accountable for how they use research, reflect on existing practice and develop new and innovative ideas. Unless leaders actively encourage this sort of behaviour it will remain an “added extra” rather than a vital part of a school ethos.

Earlier this year the RSA in partnership with the Roosevelt Institute published “Creative Schools for a thriving economy”- a provocation piece aimed at educational leaders across the world. In this publication the RSA suggested twelve “design principles” which we believe lie at the heart of the sort of creative and innovative schools which prepare young people for the economies of the future.

The RSA will soon re-publish an up-dated version of “Creative schools for a thriving economy” and wants input and ideas from the wider education ecosystem. We want your examples of what the twelve principles below look like in practice. If you think your school, or a school you work with is a great example of one of our principles then get in touch via twitter or email using the links below. Submission with be featured as part of RSA: Innovative Education and a select few will appear as good practice case studies in the re-published report.

Twelve design principles

1)     Model creativity across and beyond your institution   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

2)     Lead for creativity by both demonstrating and enabling creative behaviours   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

3)     Enable creative professional development amongst all educators throughout their career, and especially those in the early stages, post-qualification   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

4)     Build coherent and progressive provision across the curriculum, informed by the best research about how creative development differs from childhood to adolescence   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

5)     Concentrating efforts and interventions at students from low income families, connected to broader achievement-raising and community-building strategies   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

6)     Develop subject-specific pedagogies to support the knowledge-rich development of creative capacities   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

7)     Prioritise the arts and cultural learning as a unique and crucial canvas for creative development   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

8)     Create structured, sustained and rigorous opportunities for Project-based, Inquiry-oriented learning   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

9)     Develop clear and consistent processes to assess the creative capacities of your students, including opportunities for self and peer assessment   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

10)  Engage with resources and opportunities beyond the school gates   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

11) Design tough-minded evaluation processes that aim to understand, rather than demonstrate, the impact of specific interventions   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter

12)   Foster upward demand for creativity, especially from parents and employers   tiny_Twitter   tiny_Twitter


Get involved with RSA: Innovative Education

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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  • Necessity is the 'mother of invention'.  Today I set ambitious, not impossible, attainment targets for 500 children. Such targets invite teachers to consider what has to change if certain groups of pupils are to achieve age related expectations or higher. 

    Coaching teachers to imagine and trial possible solutions to overcome the many barriers to educational success that too many children encounter is arguably the most important role of senior leaders in schools today.  Children need to read, write and use mathematics confidently. Teachers are charged with this responsibility.  I partially enable them to fulfil this responsibility.

    To this extent I ' lead creative behaviours' and the energy and cognitive combustion involved matches anything you would see on a stage, in an art gallery, a laboratory or a workshop. 

    The teachers design, improvise, experiment, CREATE daily, in their noble attempt to meet the needs of every child.  

    Pupils respond to the demands of life and school with fathomless creativity. 

    Yet having read the 12 principles I'm not entirely sure if this type of creativity is held in high enough esteem by the RSA.  

    What are your thoughts Tom?

  • 1. Model creativity across and beyond your institution

    2. Lead for creativity by both demonstrating and enabling creative behaviours 

    These aspects fit with the system leadership model run by the NCTL.

    There are approx 330 National Leaders of Governance and 1100 National Leaders of Education.

  • Hi Anthony, it's an interesting point you make, and we can certainly have a think about how to make the principles more accessible. We are hoping that by collecting case studies we can help people to understand what each of these might look like in practice and that this will help people to understand how they might apply them within their own schools. 

  • First rewrite 12 Design Principles in clear and simple English. As so often with RSA publications authors write in English developed in second class academic institutions to try to impress the uninformed. For an example of this style of writing  " Develop subject-specific pedagogies to support the knowledge-rich development of creative capacities"