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Durham Commission on Creativity in Education

Durham Commission on Creativity and Education

What is the Commission?

The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education is a collaboration between Arts Council England and Durham University that aims to identify ways in which creativity, and specifically creative thinking, can play a larger part in the lives of young people from birth to the age of 25, both within and beyond the current education system.

Crucially, the Commission hopes to find out what already works well and where there might be gaps that can be addressed.


There is a general appreciation of the importance of creativity to society and it is an exciting time for the country with a huge amount already achieved across the education sector and beyond. But the Commission believes there is further untapped potential that can be unlocked.

The increasing recognition of the economic and social value of creativity and creative thinking has brought a fresh urgency to the development of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future workforce. In response to this, the Commission will focus on the value of creative thinking and ask if creative thinking across all disciplines including the arts, sciences and humanities, is sufficiently supported by the current education system.

What does the Commission hope to achieve?

The Commission will formulate a series of proposals to be considered by government, teachers, parents, arts organisations, business and the creative industries. Specifically, the Commission will:

  • Seek to influence national (English) policy
  • Inform and contribute to Arts Council England’s next ten-year Strategy for the period 2020-30
  • Contribute towards Arts Council England’s work with children and young people, including engagement with Arts Council England's 25 Year Creative Talent Plan

How will it work?

The Commission will collect evidence from across the UK and beyond, to determine the role creative thinking and cultural education play within the education system, and to explore whether there is a gap in what is currently provided.

Drawing on the evidence from literature and stakeholders, the Commission will identify concrete examples of best practice and lessons learnt to provide a robust analysis of whether the development of a creative education embedded across the curriculum is of benefit.

The Commission aims to identify what the specific components and benefits (or the disadvantages) are of a creative education, and will try and establish what the particular role of creative thinking is in the development of these.

The following deliverables will result from the project:

  • Published report with practical recommendations to inform policy and practice
  • Repository of existing research
  • New body of research
  • Conference to share learning
  • Practical resources for teachers to embed theory into practice

Key research questions and themes

The benefits of a creative education will be looked at within the following themes:

  1. Economic growth, skills, and social mobility
  2. Community identity and social engagement
  3. Personal fulfilment and wellbeing

The key research questions will include:

  1. Is developing a creative education which promotes creative thinking and practice of benefit – why is it important, and is there currently a gap in the current education system in the provision of this?
  2. What are the benefits, with particular reference to the themes, and what part does thinking and acting creatively particularly play in the development of these?
  3. How do we teach/encourage creative thinking and practice, and create the conditions for how these benefits can be realised?


The Commission will run until spring 2019 followed by a further review period until 2020.

The phases of the project will include:

  • Literature review
  • Data collection through questionnaires
  • In-depth investigation of case studies through focus groups and stakeholder sessions
  • Testing of initial recommendations
  • Publication of report
  • Review period

In the review period, a plan will set out how practical changes can be implemented through the creation of resources and practical tools which can be used by schools, colleges, universities and others.

Image Credits

What is the Commission?
Credit: Cesar De Giglio for Arts Council England

How will it work?
Credit: Mark Carline

Key research questions and themes
Credit: Aaron Burden

Credit: Cesar De Giglio for Arts Council England