Cultural leaders, arts practitioners, education experts, teachers and students will come together this autumn for a day of learning, advocacy, and connecting at the Creative Schools Symposium. In the face of declining arts education in schools, the day-long event will offer talks, activities and workshops that bring together schools and cultural institutions, with the aim of ensuring all students have access to a creative education.

The Creative Schools symposium takes place as recent research from the Cultural Learning Alliance showed a 35% drop in take-up of arts subjects at GCSE between 2010 and 2018, and the highly anticipated Durham Commission report, published earlier this month, called for the arts to be woven through the learning process and no longer regarded as a specialism. The report also condemned a growing inequality of provision that results in the “neglect and exclusion” of youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Symposium will be opened by Shonagh Manson, Assistant Director Culture and Creative Industries, GLA Mayor of London’s Office, alongside Tania Wilmer, Director of Stratford Circus Arts Centre. The keynote speech will be delivered by Will Ryan, former headteacher and author of Dare to be Different: A Leadership Fable for Transformational Change in Schools (2018). Other speakers and workshop leaders on the day include Mark Phillips of OFSTED, Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO, Foundation for FutureLondon, East Bank Partners: V&A Education, UCL, London College of Fashion and BBC Music, Otherwise Education, and Anita Kerwin Nye (Director of YHA, and author of the Every Child Should blog).

Creative Schools is a partnership programme for schools in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Newham and arts organisations from across the London region. Led by Stratford Circus Arts Centre on behalf of the East London Cultural Education Alliance, it works by supporting schools to commission bespoke creative projects that meet their unique needs through a broad network of cultural partners which includes Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning, Half Moon Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and Eastside as well as innovative cross-curricular organisations like UCL Culture Fixperts, now>press>play and Studio Wayne McGregor, who are already putting the Durham Commission’s recommendations into practice by offering ways for schools to inject more creativity across the curriculum.

Creative Schools projects are usually long-term and include teacher training in creative skills. Covering a broad range of topics, this year they have supported schools in redesigning their curriculum, helped teachers to develop creative skills for teaching STEM and literacy, brokered poets in residence and enabled a coding through dance workshop led by Pell Ensemble and U Can Too among many more. The programme for the symposium will reflect Creative Schools’ broad approach to creativity as well as promote discussion around representation in the arts, and supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Speaking about the symposium
Tania Wilmer, Director, Stratford Circus Arts Centre said “Following the findings of the Durham Commission, it is now more vital than ever to find practical, effective ways to embed creativity within and across the whole school curriculum. Creative Schools exists to support creativity as a key skill for the future, at a time when schools in east London have very limited resources to maintain their creative provision. The Symposium will bring together a broad cross-section of the creative and educational sectors to share ideas and advocate for this kind of transformational change in schools.”

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “Creative education encourages innovation and broadens horizons which is why it is vital we continue to nurture opportunities for young Londoners. Supporting the aims of the ground-breaking East Bank development, which will see £1.1 billion invested in a major new culture and education district, this event will bring together organisations committed to transforming the cultural landscape of east London, in order to inspire young Londoners to pursue careers in the creative industries”.
Lucia Yandoli, Creative Schools Programme Manager, Stratford Circus Arts Centre said “We’re looking forward to welcoming over 120 teachers and creative leaders to this year’s Creative Schools Symposium, to share examples of the tangible innovations we’ve seen over the past year and finding inspiration for future projects. In particular, this year’s symposium will demonstrate how powerful creativity can be as a tool for deep learning across the school curriculum and as a key skill for young people’s future employment.”

Annual Symposium with a keynote speech from author Will Ryan
Monday 18 November 2019, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, London E15 1BX