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Primary School wins 2016 Creative Learning Award

Scottish Education Awards 2016, Head of Creative Learning Joan Parr with winners St Albert's Primary School. Photo: The Daily Record

Creative Learning Coordinator Sarah McAdam shares her experience of attending the Scottish Education Awards 2016, and tells us more about the Creative Learning Award nominees and winner.

The 15th Scottish Education Awards took place on Wednesday 8 June at the Glasgow City Hotel in Glasgow. The event, organised in partnership by Trinity Mirror and Education Scotland, was designed to celebrate the hard work and success which takes place in Scottish education. They recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcase the valuable work and innovation in Scottish classrooms.

A wide range of learning establishments can be nominated for an award, from early learning and childcare settings to primary and secondary schools that have developed a vibrant and progressive culture and climate of continuous innovation.

Creative Scotland has been a sponsor of the Creative Learning Award since its introduction in 2013. The award celebrates schools that have embedded creative approaches to learning and teaching across the curriculum and within their whole school development.

In the run up to this year’s award the judging panel received a huge number of nominations for schools which promote creativity for both pupils and staff and the diverse range of projects and initiatives that they were undertaking both within their schools and local communities. The judges had the difficult task of choosing a shortlist of three schools from all of the nominations. A team of judges then visited each of the shortlisted schools in order to experience the learning environments of each of the schools and to meet the staff and students and hear about their experiences.

St Albert's Primary School with their Creative Learning Award 

This year the three shortlisted schools were Ellon Academy in Aberdeenshire; Middleton Park in Aberdeen; and St Albert's Primary School in Glasgow.

"At its core creativity is the ability to look at things with a fresh eye; examine problems with an open mind; make connections; learn from mistakes and use the imagination to explore new possibilities"- Sarah McAdam, Creative Learning Coordinator

Ellon Academy encourages a range of creative learning approaches, including active learning, cooperative learning and independent learning. As well as offering traditional creative subjects such as art, drama and music, the school builds creativity into other subjects, with schools designing posters in modern languages or sciences. Creativity also features in the school’s interdisciplinary learning projects and whole-school events. As part of its work to achieve a United Nations Rights Respecting School level one award, the school undertook a range of creative projects and they have also worked with North East Scotland College to offers Skills for Work courses, which look at how creativity skills are transferred into the workplace.

At Middleton Park School creativity is at the heart of raising attainment across the curriculum. The school taught pupils about the First World War through partnerships with artists, dance instructors, musicians, authors, engineers, school chaplains, forest school specialists and museum professionals. A team of staff and pupils shared this approach at the Scottish Learning Festival in September 2015. The school has also embedded artists within the delivery of the wider curriculum. Their artist in residence has worked with P7 and nursery pupils to share its forest school outdoor gallery and with the children’s minister on outdoor learning experiences, and Scottish Opera works with the P5 to P7 classes.

This year’s award winner was St Albert’s Primary School. Based in Pollockshields area of Glasgow St Alberts is unique in that it’s a Roman Catholic school at which 98% of the pupils are Muslim. Most of the children speak Urdu as their first language and 85% have English as an additional language. The school’s creative approaches to learning have included creating an app that allows pupils and parents to translate St Albert’s newsletters into Arabic and Urdu and place them on the school’s app, website and Twitter feed. The school has also partnered with the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow to challenge each class to produce an art installation inspired by a Turner Prize artist, linked with the recent Turner Prize exhibition at Tramway.

Scottish Education Award winners

Attending the ceremony and hearing about all of the work that is taking place in schools across Scotland, I was struck by how creative approaches to learning and teaching could be seen running through all of the nominated categories, not just those in the Creative Learning Category. At its core creativity is the ability to look at things with a fresh eye; examine problems with an open mind; make connections; learn from mistakes and use the imagination to explore new possibilities and you could see this throughout so many of the projects that had been nominated for awards as diverse as Numeracy, Languages, Literacy and Enterprise. The enthusiasm of all of all of the teachers and pupils in the room was infectious and made for a great event that, to me, encapsulated the statement attributed toBrazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire: “Education doesn’t change the world. Education changes people. People change the world”. 

Photo credits: The Daily Record

About the Scottish Education Awards

The Scottish Education Awards celebrate and recognise the successes and achievements taking place within Scottish education. They were first launched in November 2001 by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Daily Record.

Entry to the Awards is open to all publicly funded schools, including secondary, primary, nursery and special schools. There is a wide variety of categories to enter which are linked to the Curriculum for Excellence Programme and that also recognise the dedication and commitment of teaching staff and education supporters.

About the Creative Learning award

The Creative Learning Award category, sponsored by Creative Scotland, looks for educational settings which promote creativity amongst staff and pupils. Nominees were asked to consider:

  • How does your educational setting promote creativity for pupils and staff? Do you have a strategy for developing creativity in learning within your improvement plans?
  • How is creativity being developed across all curriculum areas, and interdisciplinary projects?
  • How do the staff in your educational setting ensure that all pupils are supported to develop creativity in ways which build on their personal strengths whether as individuals or in group activities?
  • What evidence can you provide that leaners are given responsibility for planning and managing creativity projects?
  • What partnerships have you developed to build and support the development of creativity?

Find out what else Creative Scotland is doing to support Creative Learning.