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The Big 13 – Creativity & Innovation

Creativity and Innovation can be seen in a number of ways – the generation of ideas and concepts, making things or even taking a new approach to teaching and learning.

It is about being imaginative – thinking ‘outside the box’ – looking for solutions, solving problems, inventing new ideas. And then imagining that something ‘extra’ which will be the spark for innovation or improvement.

Teachers have a key role to play here, providing creative learning opportunities which fire the imagination of children and create that spark.

Case Study – Blackburn Primary Contemporary Science Day

Blackburn Primary teacher Paul Swift knows first hand the importance of being creative and enterprising. For many years he supported his young family by supplementing his teaching income by selling baked potatoes to late night clubbers. At school he is passionate about instilling a similar sense of resourcefulness and imagination to his pupils. He said:

“Life can be an obstacle course and you’ve got to have the energy and creativity to get around it. There will be lots of times when it seems like there is something in your way – money, jobs, people, time – but if you are creative you can always think of a way around it.”

Paul applies this philosophy to his teaching too – and is always looking for imaginative ways to deliver the curriculum in a way that will engage the children. It was out of this that the Contemporary Science Day evolved. The event is run as a partnership between several local comprehensive schools, Sheffield Hallam University and Blackburn Primary School. The idea was to deliver a day of science in a fun, engaging way which would make an impact on the pupils. But the day was almost felled at the first hurdle, when potential venues quoted astronomical prices to host the children. Paul said:

“We were looking at between £900 and £2,000 pounds, which would have put it beyond our reach. Things were looking bleak, but we had the idea of asking the people at Liquid and Diva, and went and knocked on their door to see what they thought.”

Liquid and Diva agreed to open their doors to the schools for free, which meant the day got the  green light and got everyone thinking about how to use the venue to the best advantage.

The team decided to use the venue as the theme for their activities, posing questions around what happens at a nightclub to stimulate some scientific investigations. Problems like ‘How can sound be turned into light?’, ‘What happens to our bodies when we dance?’ and ‘How does alcohol effect you?’ were all explored.

Paul and his colleagues engaged many imaginative delivery partners too, who brought the day to life. Students from Hallam University performed role plays and the NHS had a paramedic providing first aid emergency training. Even Liquid and Diva’s DJ and lighting engineer were enrolled to give children a new perspective on the sophisticated electronics needed to produce the music and disco lights at a nightclub.

Paul said:

“Students are in a new and exciting environment, which engages their attention. They don’t feel like they are learning, but it is happening on lots of levels – there are the curriculum links, but also skills like enquiry, team work, problem solving, communication and risk management.

“During the evaluation of the first day we all agreed it was a lot of fun and the students loved it, but just as importantly we agreed that the science and the learning were there too. It’s a great day – it delivers for students and teachers in a really creative way.”