Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-119)|
MBE MP AND JIM
10 OCTOBER 2007
Q100 Mr Chaytor: Is there not a danger
from the parents' point of view or the pupils' point of view of
mixed messages here because until recently the absolutely dominant
message was that education is a preparation for the workplace
and vocational skills are increasingly important, but now we have
this great dollop of injection of trips to the Royal Opera House
and more street theatre? As it stands I am not quite clear that
provides a coherent message as to the purpose of education or
the nature of creativity to the pupils or to their parents. Where
do parents encourage their sons and daughters to go, to become
more creative or to knuckle down and get their five A-Cs and their
Margaret Hodge: I think we would
both argue that they are two sides of the same coin.
Jim Knight: Absolutely. What we
are doing on learning outside the classroom, as an example, would
be to say it is important for its own sake. If you talk to most
people about their memories of school often the sharpest memories
are of things they did outside the classroom and some of the trips
they went on and those were great learning experiences. In terms
of parents, they are interested in what the ultimate outcome is
and how education sets them up for life. The story around what
employers are telling us they need, and indeed universities, is
just the raw results are not enough if they have not got the whole
person. Things like learning outside the classroom has a lot of
creativity in it, but then the wider creativity piece is important
in creating that whole person who is ready for both the world
of work and to go on on their educational journey.
Q101 Mr Chaytor: The fact that the
Arts Council is the lead agency here, does that colour the definition
of creativity? Where is the role of the Design Council? What is
the involvement of the CBI or local Chambers of Commerce? Is there
not a definition of creativity that is based around approaches
to industrial design and manufacturing?
Margaret Hodge: I think the plus
of having the Arts Council is you are getting into the system,
into the coreCreative Partnerships go into the corepeople
who would not have touched it before. You are getting creative
professionals working with teachers, changing the way they work,
as well as working with children. The evidence so far, and I agree
we have got to get tougher and more rigorous evidence over time,
shows that the Arts Council running it means they are able to
access people they have not accessed before, they are accessing
younger people, and all those creative professionals are getting
themselves something out of the experience of working in schools
and working with teachers. I think that is the plus. Should the
Design Council also have a say in that? We have got a programme,
and I am trying to think what the hell it is called, I cannot
think, around Building Schools for the Future, where CABE
Q102 Chairman: Joinedupdesignforschools?
No, that is the Sorrell Foundation.
Margaret Hodge: What is it called?
I cannot remember.
Jim Knight: CABE are involved
Margaret Hodge: What they do is
take a school that is getting a new building, Schools for the
Future, and get the children to get engaged in the design there
in a really very, very creative way. This is not the only creativity
programme but it is an important one and quite a lot of money
goes into it.
Q103 Chairman: Paul Collard, when
he was in front of us on Monday, was suggesting that if you are
really looking for the hairy anoraks who are going to start Google
in the next five, 10 or 20 years, you do need exposure to that
kind of creativity, people who do whizzy things on computers and
think outside the normal parameters. Even in terms of the arts,
most of the jobs in the arts and the creative industries are behind
the camera, not strutting about on the stage. Is a partnership
wide enough, broad enough?
Margaret Hodge: That of itself
is not enough because I do not think it is answering all those
issues. I think this is a hugely important and positive part but,
for example, I think the Diploma is vital, the apprenticeships
are really important, and you will see they will be much more
about design. I am doing another bit of work which will produce
a Green Paper, I hope before Christmas, around the creative economy
where one of the big areas of study, and where I am working with
colleagues in DCSF, is to look specifically around the skills
required for much of that new media creative design and we are
looking at can we do some more around Academies, for example,
post-16. If you are taking me into that arena a little bit, it
is very interesting there that if you look at the creative economy
the skills and the competences are often post-graduate ones and
how that fits in with the thrust of education policy is a circle
I am trying to square.
Jim Knight: Things like the Artsmark,
the specialist status in the arts, those are all important drivers
as well. My constituency, like yours, Chairman, is not in that
Creative Partnerships area and yet the creativity I see in schools
using some of those initiatives, using their delegated money,
creating partnerships, I can think of a secondary school I visited
on Portland where there was a partnership with the media school
at Bournemouth University and Apple Computers doing some really
whizzy things that are massively creative using flash animation
and so on that was fantastic.
Q104 Mr Chaytor: Can I move on to
the question of evaluation and measurement of success really.
From the school's point of view is there not a problem here because
the headteacher knows that the reputation of their school depends
on that position in the league tables, but as yet the success
of creativity in the curriculum does not really appear anywhere
in the league tables. Does the Department recognise this? Is there
going to be some further move to broadening the way in which schools'
achievements are publicly evaluated?
Jim Knight: Certainly I would
recognise that when you look across an evaluation that is based
solely on test scores there is some statistically significant
output but it is not totally unambiguous. I do take very seriously
the outcome of one of the pieces of evaluation around the way
it is valued by headteachers. I think 95% of headteachers were
saying it created more confident young people and 73% saying they
achieved more. The vast majority of headteachers understand if
they are going to do well in the achievement and attainment tests
they have got to have engaged pupils. That does not mean just
sitting them down in dry lessons drilling them with sums and writing
and reading, it means them having an enriched educational experience
and creating an ethos and a culture in their school that is not
only safe but also exciting. That is the value of this.
Q105 Mr Chaytor: You are saying creativity
is a means to an end, a means of boosting your test scores, but
what I am interested in is whether there is a deeper change of
approach which is starting to recognise a broader range of arrangements
from individual schools, not just the test scores. Is there that
sort of changing approach to the curriculum?
Jim Knight: Certainly I am interested
in whether or not there is a way of measuring, a way of assessing
softer skills, including creativity, so that we can have the drivers
on those, but there is the difficulty that when you try and make
them measurable you take the creativity out to some extent. What
Ofsted are doing is important, that as part of the self-evaluation
form they are now looking at creativity that they see when they
do an inspection. Using some of those drivers might be a better
way than trying to build things into attainment tables or some
of those other harder edged drivers that we have.
Q106 Mr Chaytor: Finally, could I
just ask about CPD? We have a model here where a group of outside
experts parachutes into a school but what are the implications
for the professional development of teachers in the school or
non-teaching assistants, and particularly in the earlier years
where CPD opportunities are not as widely available as they are
for later years of schooling maybe? What about professional development
of early years staff? Do you recognise that there is an issue
here and are there any plans to strengthen the entry qualification,
the initial training qualifications, as well as the CPD?
Jim Knight: Specifically in respect
of early years we have got the new early years framework starting
from September of next year and that builds on what we have got
at the moment. Building into that are some quite strong creativity
outputs that we want and those skills in place amongst the professionals
who are working at that stage. As with any CPD, getting strong
engagement with professional practitioners, as well as sharpening
our pedagogy and ensuring that your educational specialism is
right, is really important. The role of Creative Partnerships
and those sorts of programmes is important as we drive forward
with a new framework from September of next year.
Q107 Mr Chaytor: Is there a need
to increase the creativity component in initial teacher training?
Jim Knight: Again, it depends
on your definition of creativity. It is important that TDA and
the training providers ensure that teachers understand the value
of creativity across the whole curriculum and are ensuring that
they are teaching in a creative way but the learners have a creative
experience. Whether that needs to be strengthened further I am
not so sure because we are very happy with the new generation
of teachers that are coming in and they are of the highest quality
that we have seen. We are seeing that creativity coming through
with teachers at the moment.
Q108 Mr Carswell: Despite the beginning
of a cultural shift towards a more creative curriculum, in reality
schools are more influenced by testing regimes and a standards
agenda. Should the centre not let go? Does creativity not mean
that the centre needs to let a thousand flowers bloom and not
try to use targets and standards to prescribe what should be taught?
Margaret Hodge: I do not agree
with that at all. It does not mean that because you are trying
to drive up standards and achieve greater outcomes you should
not want to measure that in some way. Clearly that is always a
complex thing to do. What is so interesting about this Creative
Partnerships programme is all the headteachers to whom we have
talked in the BMRB survey believe that this interaction between
creative professionals outside and then in the classroom has helped
them develop a much more creative way in the way they teach. This
then helps them drive up standards. I think what you have to look
at is how can you enhance the creative capacity of your teachers,
and this is one method that we have chanced on which appears to
be really, really successful, so we want to value it and extend
it. By loosening away and saying, "We will not measure you
in any way" is not how you are going to improve creativity,
you have got to take positive steps like the Creative Partnerships
to try and enhance the quality of teaching in schools.
Q109 Mr Carswell: However else you
can define creativity, is it not the case that the one thing creativity
cannot be is something defined by central government. If government
cannot define it how can you leave it to government to measure
it and to gauge it?
Margaret Hodge: Creativity can
be defined and has been defined. A lot of the work that has got
us to where we are now in terms of the joint work we are doing
in schools comes out of the studies that have been done around
the importance of creativity. There is a definition which Jim
mentioned a little earlier, which is the one that we all use.
Again, and this is me being slightly my age, creativity has always
effectively been measured in the way that people are assessed
in their universities, for example. People have not had a difficulty
in measuring that. There are good lessons you can learn in terms
of outcomes for those that study: how innovative you are; how
lateral thinking you are; what imagination you put in. They are
not easy to measure but one can asses them. Maybe "assessment"
is a better word than "measurement". If we value it
we have to try and look at ways in which we can introduce it in
a better way in our teachers and this is one, although not the
only one. The other thing we then have to look at is how we better
assess. The CPD questions that we got from David Chaytor are really,
really important because during the process of a teacher's Continuing
Professional Development how can you ensure that they develop
these sorts of skills to be able to then impart them and teach
children how to learn.
Q110 Mr Carswell: Changing tack slightly,
does not the relatively low pay and relatively low professional
status of many of the early years professionals rather undermine
your aspiration for fostering creativity amongst the 0-5s?
Margaret Hodge: Is that really
for me, Barry? I can deal with it.
Q111 Chairman: I just know that we
have only got you for another 26 minutes so I am emphasising you.
Jim, do come in.
Margaret Hodge: I would love to
answer it, as you know.
Jim Knight: Where we are, probably
thanks to things that were instigated when Margaret was Children's
Minister, is we are trying to raise the level of qualification
and standard from people working in early years. The early years
foundation stage, as I said, that is coming in in September will
be part of that attempt. Local authorities will be able to use
£250 million of the Transformation Fund to support early
years foundation stage training. We definitely want to continue
to improve the level of skill and the status for those people.
I am confident, for example, when Ofsted produce their annual
report shortly that they will continue, as they have done in previous
years, to report on how successful it is and what a high standard
of nursery and early years provision we have in this country,
and we should be very proud of that.
Q112 Chairman: Can I ask both of
you, because of your unique mix of experience, you will remember
in an early years study that we as a Committee did a long time
ago that the real worry was if you are increasing the number of
children coming in, the free nursery places at four and now three,
there was going to be a temptation of creep down in that the reception
class would get earlier and children would be pushed into formal
learning much sooner, reading, writing and all those things, and
in a sense the creativity in those very early years pushed out.
As I go round schools I see a bit of that and it is a worry, is
it not? If you compare it with Denmark where there is no formal
learning until seven, very well paid professionals inducting them
into creative play, is there not a tension there in early years
between that kind of push to get the kids to read and write and
do the creative things?
Margaret Hodge: First of all,
creativity is an element in the foundation stage and I am sure
it is going over into the new curriculum. It is an element there
because people recognise the importance of it. Second, right through
all that early stuff it is learning through play, so it is not
learning but learning through play that becomes the key philosophy.
Chairman, when I was in your chair, if you remember, we took the
Committee at that point to Switzerland to look at what they did
about early years education and nursery education and what was
so interesting was that the only compulsory component in the nursery
offer in the Swiss nurseries was around music. Creativity was
the only compulsory component. The reason was that music, and
I would still love as we develop our music manifesto to push it
down the age, develops all sorts of things. You learn about shape,
you learn about patterns, you learn to do things together because
you do it collectively. It is an incredibly powerful stimulant.
In Switzerland creativity was at the heart of it. When I did my
very last trip to Denmark the interesting thing then, and this
was three or four years back, was whilst they were totally free
they felt they had to have a structure to ensure that children
realised their full potential. Structure did not mean rote learning,
it meant perhaps something like the Swiss did about ensuring that
creativity became part of that learning through play. My bit of
it now in DCMS, I want to enhance it and strengthen it in that
cultural offer that we give to children and, hopefully, if resources
ever become available and we can strengthen the work we do around
music and dance and all these things I think it is absolutely
vital to get that into the little ones in building their creativity
so they become better learners.
Chairman: Jim, we will come back to you
on that question.
Q113 Stephen Williams: I will move
on to ask some questions about how effective the programme has
been so far. The National Federation for Educational Research
(NFER) in their written evidence to the Committee showed that
they had evaluated pupils at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 and found there
was a positive correlation for maths and English that was statistically
significant but not educationally significantunfortunately
we have not got what parameters they were working tobut
no educational or statistical significance for English at Key
Stage 3 or for any of these subjects at Key Stages 2 and 4. Does
that disappoint you?
Margaret Hodge: (a) It is early
days. (b) I think it is hellishly difficult to do a causal relationship.
(c) what I would say to you is when I looked at this research
in the round from headteachers' views to Ofsted's views to the
research of the NFER longitudinal study and through to the Burns
Owen Partnership review which looked very much at the other end
of the spectrum at what the creative economy felt and the creative
professionals felt on it, it was a more powerful case than I had
expected to find when I came to this particular agenda. Causal
relationships are just hugely difficult to prove.
Q114 Stephen Williams: Is a causal
relationship in core subjects something that is an aim of Creative
Partnerships or is it an aim that is harder to measure, like children
are more motivated and want to turn up for school because perhaps
learning has been made more fun?
Margaret Hodge: Is it an aim?
The answer is yes because creativity, enthusiasm, commitment,
self-esteem, all those things help you raise standards. Yes, it
is an aim. We want evidence-based policy because we do not want
to feel a policy we have developed on an intellectually sound
basis does not deliver what we want of it, but it is going to
be hellishly difficult to come back to you even in five years'
time and say there is an X per cent educational improvement absolutely
caused by this.
Q115 Stephen Williams: Is creativity
something that you see as a discrete activity that schools should
do every Wednesday afternoon perhaps or something that should
be embedded right across the curriculum?
Margaret Hodge: Of course it has
got to be embedded which is why one of the strengths of the Creative
Partnerships is the work they do with teachers in schools. Equally,
the creative arts and what that releases in terms of creativity
is a discrete activity. It is really, really powerful. There has
been some really powerful stuff that you see with young people.
I will tell you one of the programmes that I am really keen to
look at is the Venezuelan classical music programme where they
have gone into these tough urban areas and it is not a hugely
expensive programme, probably because professionals are paid less
in Venezuela. They have gone in and they give the kids a lot,
three to four hours a day of classical music, absolutely classical
music, and they oversee the practice. These are kids in desperate
circumstances with huge disadvantages in their homes. They came
over and played in The Proms this year and were a fantastic success.
Classical music is now an integral part of raising self-esteem
and providing completely new perspectives and horizons for very
deprived children. I still think we are not there. If you think
about schools, what we tend to think of are kids in more deprived
schools still doing bands and things rather than really, really
expanding their horizons in that way. It is very exciting. There
is very exciting work around visual art, theatre and film being
done all over the place, really, really good stuff.
Q116 Stephen Williams: Chairman,
in preparation for this short inquiry I went to visit some schools
in Bristol, a nursery school and a primary School in East Bristol.
There were no schools in my constituency that were taking part
in Creative Partnerships but there were in other parts of the
city. How were the schools actually selected?
Margaret Hodge: It was a 36 area
programme based partly on need, partly on cultural infrastructure,
partly on whether there are other complementary or contradictory
programmes in the area. I would love to say it will become universal
but I doubt the resources will be available. What we hope is that
some of the work that has come out of Creative Partnerships can
cascade out into other areas.
Q117 Stephen Williams: So for the
foreseeable future over the spending round that we are about to
start that was announced yesterday you do not think it is going
to be something that is going to be funded for every school, it
will still be targeted?
Margaret Hodge: I do not think
there is the funding available in either of our budgets to extend
it to a universal programme.
Q118 Fiona Mactaggart: Why not?
Margaret Hodge: Because it is
just not there in a tight fiscal environment.
Q119 Stephen Williams: When Ofsted
looked at this they said the reasons for the selection of schools
were "insufficiently clear". The Minister has just set
out the basis on which schools were selected but obviously when
Ofsted were going round the schools they could not find out why
those particular schools had been selected.
Margaret Hodge: I had not picked
up that point. What I should say is that it was not the reasons
for selecting the schools, it was the reasons for selecting the
areas. Within that, the Creative Partnerships have got to be invited
into schools so whether there were some schools within an area
that chose not to invite them in, that might be the answer.
Jim Knight: We are working through
the implications of our settlements across the two Departments
and the two Secretaries of State will be meeting to discuss the
next stage for Creative Partnerships. I am sure, as ever, we will
bear in mind Ofsted's comments about the selection of schools
but I would agree with Margaret that it would be wrong for us
to raise the expectation that it would reach every school in Dorset,
or even Huddersfield for that matter, in the next round. There
are aspects of the programme that I think do have implications
for schools all over the country because we can learn from the
really good practice that we are getting out of the investment.
Margaret Hodge: I do not want
to leave you with a negative either. We are working across the
two Departments to see how we can extend this cultural offer,
building on Cultural Hub, and that is all part of the same agenda;
this is how you can embed culture in the way that we have sport
in the curriculum and outside school, in extended schools and
all that sort of stuff.
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