University and Hampshire Primary Schools to spark creativity revolution in the classroom

30 Oct 2023
Three women and man in school sandpit with new report

A group of Hampshire primary schools has joined forces with the University of Winchester on a project that aims to boost pupils’ creativity in all areas of the curriculum, preparing them to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.

The three-year pilot scheme, funded by Arts Council England and Freelands Foundation, involves academics working with 16 schools, led by Halterworth Primary School in Romsey, part of the University of Winchester Academy Trust, as one of eight national “Creativity Collaboratives”.

 The collaboratives are supported by a total £2.78 million funding with each made up of a group of schools working in tandem with a university to carry out a programme of research and to collect evidence on the impact and value of teaching for creativity for children, schools and their communities.

The University of Winchester team has just published its first report, Context, Knowledge, Agency, Pedagogies and Leadership for Creativity in Schools (, which details some key insights about children’s learning which came out of the collaborative’s work including:

Case studies of creative work include a Year 1 project called “Roaming Rovers”  - focused on Design and Technology, English, and Science -  in which the children were set a mission to design a rover to explore a new planet and a writing project which took them through a creative process that resulted in them producing more effective and original narratives than in previous years.

A literacy project with KS2 children, based on Dave Almond’s The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, encouraged the children to create their own spin-off plots and characters culminating in a ‘meet the author’ book fair where the pupils – as authors – displayed complete ’published’ books and then acted out their favourite scenes.

Nicola Wells, Co-Executive Leader of the University of Winchester Academy Trust said: “Creativity is such an important part of helping young people to build the resilience and flexibility that will equip them to solve problems, support their wellbeing and enable them to adapt to a changing workplace throughout their lives.”

She said that since starting the Creativity Collaboratives project, the trust had seen a real increase in pupils’ “engagement, empowerment and excitement in their own learning, as they apply their knowledge in personally meaningful ways”.

Staff also commented on the inclusive nature of learning when children are allowed to choose how to solve problems and demonstrate their learning.

“We are delighted to now be able to share in the findings from the first research report by the University of Winchester team, which evidences the impact of the work in our schools on teaching for creativity”, added Nicola.

Professor Paul Sowden, the report’s lead author and Professor of Psychology, Cognition and Creativity at the University of Winchester said: “It’s been a real privilege to work with such an amazing group of schools all united in their ambition to support their pupils to become effective creative thinkers. We’ve been able to work with so many very talented teachers and headteachers to develop an evidence- based approach to teaching for creativity and to measure the impact of this approach in our Creativity Collaborative.”

“Our report shows the impact of some of the innovative work by teachers in the classroom as well as providing important insights into the character of a healthy environment for developing creativity in schools and into making sustained change”.

Dr Marnie Seymour, Senior Fellow in Knowledge Exchange at the University of Winchester, said: “The enthusiasm and energy shown by all of the teachers, as well as the unwavering commitment and strength of vision of the school leaders, has been instrumental to the success of this project and the positive change evidenced in their schools, and will ensure a lasting legacy of this Collaborative."

Academics and researchers from Psychology, Education and Creative Writing have been involved in this ongoing project, due to finish in December 2024, which is likely to yield a number of academic papers in addition to a final report.

Above: Unveiling the new report in the sandpit at Barton Farm Primary School.  Pictured from left: Dr Frances Warren, Co-investigator on the Collaborative’s Research and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester; Professor Paul Sowden, the Collaborative’s Research Lead; Nicola Wells, Co-Executive Leader of the University of Winchester Academy Trust; and Dr Marnie Seymour, Co-investigator on the Collaborative’s Research.

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