Creative Learning Networks are a national partnership initiative by Creative Scotland and Education Scotland to develop creative learning networks across Scotland, which interact and share news, information and opportunities. The broad aim is to promote and facilitate creative learning in schools and support the creative curriculum.
Orkney Islands Council supports initiatives within Orkney schools and the wider community and Orkney has benefited from Creative Learning Network funding since 2012. Projects have developed over that time from workshop-based practice to continued professional development of school staff and organisational partnership working.
Orkney’s Creative Learning activity continues to be coordinated by the Arts Officer as part of the Education Service in partnership with Orkney Islands Council's School Improvement Officers. Promoting creative learning from this position enables broad engagement and partnership working with senior education staff, Head Teachers and school staff, through to Early Years, Community Learning, third sector and cultural organisations.
A focus on creative teaching and learning over the last four years continues to contribute towards a shared understanding of creativity and its value and relevance to learners at Primary and Secondary school level. Shared creative planning has enabled teachers to explore new methodologies with each other and test these with learners, placing creative learning activity at the heart of the classroom. The addition of moderation of children’s learning and experiences between teachers and schools as part of this programme in the last year is developing shared understanding of standards and expectations of children’s learning. This is helping to develop awareness of the national moderation programme led by Education Scotland to a wider range of teachers in Orkney and in contributing to one of our priorities locally. Training with Head Teachers, teachers and the wider education community have helped to further share and embed the creative learning agenda.
You can find out more about Creative Learning Networks from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.
Education Scotland have produced a video on Improving Education Through Creativity. Creativity is needed throughout Scottish education - not just creative learners, not just creative teachers, but also creative systems and leadership. Creativity is the skill of the future.
Our Loose Parts projects over the last three years for Early Years in partnership with the Pier Arts Centre has resulted in a clear benefit to some of our youngest learners and has enabled a wider experience for some of our more remote settings. Early years settings have returned from the Pier Arts Centre to develop the Loose Parts approach into a regular activity/way of working, finding that it fosters engagement, focus and creative thinking amongst the children.
In the last year we have successfully delivered the Loose Parts workshops with Glaitness and Papdale nurseries. In 2017 - 2018 we worked with several small settings from the inner isles, this year however we chose to work with a section of children from two of the largest schools, both based in Kirkwall. The project began with a Loose Parts training session with nursery staff at the gallery which enabled us to delve into the theory and for staff to explore the materials themselves. Working with settings from Kirkwall gave lots of children access to the Pier Arts Centre for the first time. During a summer school based in Orkney for Early Years practitioners from Orkney, Shetland and Moray, the Orkney Early Years Teams gave a presentation to the group and this generated interest from other local authorities and from Tina Bruce, a well renowned author on children’s early play and development. The Early Years Team are now looking for ways of continuing the approaches and partnership working with the Pier Arts Centre as the benefit to both the children in terms of their experiences and to staff in terms of developing their knowledge and confidence in delivering creative approaches have been recognised.
Following a suggestion by the Education Scotland Creative Learning Team we initiated a conversation with Education consultancy Hidden Giants around input to Head Teachers and teaching staff focusing on pupil engagement and creativity in the classroom. Matthew Sowerby from Hidden Giants joined us for two days in Orkney, firstly delivering to Head Teachers. The input focused on teacher empowerment and revisited core principles. Day two with teaching staff covered some of the same ground whilst exploring co-enquiry, relational resources and unpicking IDL learning. Staff clearly valued this sort of high-quality input which is often difficult to access and finds little space amongst day to day school life.
These initial two days have led to a more sustained relationship with Hidden Giants with two schools in Orkney across the teaching year 2019-2020, aimed at questioning and initiating creativity across all aspects of the schools’ practice. Launched in October work has begun this Autumn term on leadership and vision development.