Concern About the Reduction in Number of Pupils Doing Creative Subjects

Image source: Artist Bob and Roberta Smith: ‘We must totally overhaul the importance of art, design, dance, craft and drama.’ Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

According to Mark Brown at the Guardian, the creative side of education has been systematically pushed aside, resulting in fewer pupils taking up creative subjects at GCSE level. A recent study into the topic, the Warwick commission report, estimates that the creative arts sector is valued at £76,9bn, or to put it another way: 5% of the British economy.

Dr. Kenneth Gibson, Head of Academic Engagement for Crossfields Institute, had this to say:

“One of the major findings from the Warwick Report, as reported here by Mark Brown, states that white middle-class adults continue to make up the bulk of the audience for the arts and culture which they have produced themselves and which ultimately is a reflection of their own values. It also tells us implicitly that the humanities and arts subjects in our education systems do not matter to those in government and this is one of the reasons for the downward trend in the participation of the bulk of the population in most cultural and artistic activities. As the report says: ‘Creativity, culture and the arts are being systematically removed from the education system.’

One of the reasons for this, as Sarah Churchwell says in a recent article, is the widely view held ‘among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities’ that the arts are of no value and because of their constant questioning of ‘what are the arts for’ there is a gradual diminishing of their importance for society as a whole. It is possible to suggest that these individuals have little or no understanding for a creative education and need to consider that everything from poetry, painting, literature and all arts and humanities based subjects are the basis for a balanced and enlightened education and its positive impact on society as a whole.

As many past and present educators have argued, the creative arts and humanities should be firmly anchored in the curriculum at all levels of the education system from birth to death. In his report for the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, Ken Robinson suggests that a creative education should contain, among other things the cultivation of imagination where ‘imaginative activity is the process of generating something original: providing an alternative to the expected, the conventional, or the routine’. Thus it should be innovative and encourage individuals to think and act in creative and imaginative ways to solve problems and view the world from many different perspectives. Therefore if we value the enrichment of lives; want to give new insights into everything including business models and politics; foster social justice and equality; teach people to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions and develop empathy then art, literature, music and all forms of creativity need to be deeply embedded in all our education systems and not be just for the select few.”

Research into Children’s Use of Mobile Internet Technology


As more and more children are accessing the internet with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, this raises various questions regarding the risks versus the benefits. Of course, access to useful educational information is of tremendous value, but there are potential dangers involved if children have access to everything that the internet offers. A new project called Net Children Go Mobile, a project supported by the London School of Economics and co-funded by the European Commision’s Safe Internet Programme, has been set up to study this subject in great detail, with the aim of more fully understanding children’s use of mobile technology and the impact it has on their lives.

Big Businesses Need to Do More to Support Education

Image source: BBC News

It is common sense that the key to bright and brilliant future generations is education. Yet a recent analysis of the top 500 global businesses revealed that only a small amount of their philanthropic and social investment budget was channelled into education. If these businesses were to provide extra funding, we could begin to tackle such severe global concerns as the fact that 58 million children in developing countries do not have access to primary schools.

You can read the full story on the BBC website…

What Happens When We Give Students More Freedom?

In her article on the, journalist Eleanor Ross writes that many students struggle with the enforced structure of the traditional educational approach. Could it be that the way forward is fewer rules, more freedom, and more autonomy for the students? Atlantic College and Summerhill are just two examples of educational centres where this more liberal approach is working extremely well.

Charlotte von Bulow, Chief Executive of Crossfields Institute, says:

“Within our debates and conversations about more autonomy and freedom for students, we need to keep asking the bigger question about what freedom really means in an educational context. We need to look at notions like freedom from versus freedom to, and perhaps we even need to start thinking about what freedom in means. Initially, I believe we need to create educational contexts within which students feel free to ask questions and take initiative. In essence, we need to create educational processes that facilitate that students are free to be who they truly are and that they feel invited to pursue the realisation of their potential. This is a process of developing self-knowledge. When we begin to get to know ourselves we can also to begin to understand more fully what it means to take responsibility for our actions. This can then instigate an inquiry into what freedom in action may look like from the point of view of developing an ethical individualism.”

Reimagining the University: New approaches to teaching and learning in higher education

Friday 17 Oct 2014, 5:00pm-9:00pm PRE-CONFERENCE SYMPOSIUM AND DINNER
Saturday 18 Oct 2014, 9:30am-5:00pm MAIN CONFERENCE

University of Gloucestershire
Fullwood House
Park Campus
The Park


What were the original ideals of the university and how do they relate to what the university has become today? How can new ideas of ethical, embodied transformative practice help to reimagine and revitalize the university?

The conference is for educators, practitioners and researchers from different disciplines who are interested in innovative approaches to teaching and learning in higher education including:

  • embodied teaching and learning methods that involve the whole human being in the learning process.
  • participatory learning that challenges and redefines how valid knowledge is created.
  • learning that helps students develop into the ethical leaders of the future.
  • inter-disciplinary practice that bridges the divide between arts, humanities and sciences as a way of opening up new approaches to learning and knowledge.

This collaborative event is organised by the University of Gloucestershire, Crossfields Institute, and Alanus University (Germany), with a contribution from the Ruskin Mill Field Centre

Further Information:

Symposium: Research in Early Childhood Education and Social Pedagogy – 13th & 14th June 2014 at Alanus University in Germany


Karte_Research in early childhood_1S


This is a call for papers and save-the-date alert for an Early Years and Social Pedagogy symposium organized by Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences and the University of Applied Sciences of Mönchengladbach, in cooperation with Crossfields Institute. The event will begin at approx 5pm on the 13th June 2014, and will end on the evening of the 14th June. The venue will be the Alanus campus in Alfter, Villestrasse 3, Germany ( The main language is English. Both universities are running BA courses in early childhood education and are keen to explore fresh research perspectives in dialogue with early childhood training programs in the UK.

The general aim of the symposium is to nurture constructive dialogue and exchange between different approaches in early years education and social pedagogy. This includes for example Montessori, Steiner, Pickler and ‘mainstream’ approaches. The question behind the symposium is how more dialogue and exchange between the different approaches can help to deepen understanding and practice in the critical early years field as well as in social pedagogy.

The symposium will consist of short paper presentations and key-note lectures focusing on key aspects of theory and practice. This will serve as the basis for general discussion about dialogue and exchange between the different methods. If you would like to submit an abstract for a paper, please do so by 20th of May 2014 by sending it to

Detailed information about the event will be circulated shortly. For general information please contact

This symposium is organized by:

Prof. Dr. Marcelo da Veiga and Prof. Dr. Janne Fengler from Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences, Alfter (near Bonn), Germany.
Prof. Dr. Peter Schäfer from Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
In cooperation with Crossfields Institute, Stroud, UK.