"How can we deliver a sustainable, creative, stimulating environment to enhance investigative play in the Foundation Stage and especially challenge more able children?" This was the rather long-winded enquiry question posed during a Creative Partnerships project at Athelstan Community Primary School, North Yorkshire.
Beginning with a staff training day, I worked with teachers, challenging them to question what the word 'creativity' meant to them. Questions posed to them were as follows:
- Is creativity inherited and a natural talent/ability or is it something that is developed through interaction with others and different learning environments?
- Does creativity come about through having more time, space, resources (money) and freedom? Or are we forced to be creative when time, space, resources are restricted?
Teachers were also asked to consider their own personal creativity. Furthermore, they were invited to think of examples where they may have restricted or encouraged creativity within the classroom.
We also spent time exploring materials, experimenting and considering the way open-ended approaches to so-called 'art'-related activities could also enrich and develop other areas of the Foundation Stage curriculum and beyond.
Interestingly, the staff seemed to enjoy having the chance to 'play' and also seemed keen to introduce new materials and processes with their children. Practice and experimentation tended to triumph over theory (through presentations related to other pedagogical approaches - I asked them to think about different learner styles and also introduced the Reggio Emilia approach as a key example).
It was really important to run this event before the project actually started. I was able to introduce the aims and intentions of this enquiry project, as well as the Creative Partnerships agenda in the current political climate - funding cuts! It would also prepare the teachers for a sense of what was to follow, enabling us to identify a collective plan of action and generally provide some food for thought before the project started.