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Durham University

Durham University News


Commissioners announced for creativity and education partnership

(19 February 2018)

Durham University and Arts Council England have announced the names of 17 Commissioners appointed to the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education

The Commissioners will lead the joint project which aims to determine the role that creative thinking and cultural education play within education.

Leading figures

The newly announced Commissioners include leading figures from business, the cultural sector, policy organisations and academia. They are:

  • Sir David Adjaye OBE, architect and lead designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Lauren Child MBE, Children’s Laureate, writer and artist
  • Jon Coles, Chief Executive of United Learning
  • Althea Efunshile CBE, non-executive director of organisations spanning education, culture, media and health
  • Dame Reena Keeble, retired primary head teacher and former National Leader of Education
  • Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service
  • Akram Khan MBE, award-winning dance artist
  • Imran Khan, Head of Public Engagement at the Wellcome Trust
  • Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, award-winning filmmaker, and co-founder of the educational charity Into Film
  • Professor Roger Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science, Imperial College and a London Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow.
  • Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Professor Linda Merrick, Principal of Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music and Chair of Conservatoires UK.
  • Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company 
  • Kat Pugh, Headteacher at the St Marylebone Church of England School
  • Paul Roberts OBE, Chair of The Innovation Unit
  • Phil Stokes, Assurance Leader for Entertainment and Media Practice, PwC
  • Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children’s and BBC North

The Commission will be chaired by Sir Nicholas Serota from Arts Council England with Professor Alan Houston, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Durham University as the academic lead.

Creative thinking and cultural education

The Commission will collect evidence from across the UK and beyond on creative thinking and cultural education, to explore whether there is a gap in what is currently provided. The research will draw evidence from existing literature and interested groups, such as schools, arts organisations and businesses, to identify examples of best practice and to analyse the benefits of an embedded creative education within the curriculum.

As part of the first stage of the research, interested organisations and members of the public are encouraged to register their interest via the Commission’s website. This will be followed by further detailed investigations and a final report in the summer of 2019.

The benefits of a creative education will be looked at within the themes of economic growth, skills, and social mobility; community identity and social engagement; and personal fulfilment and well-being.

Examining and defining the value of creativity

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Universities, colleges and schools have a responsibility to develop engaged, global citizens, capable of fulfilling their full career potential – both for their own benefit and for society. We need to ensure that creativity and creative thinking are properly embedded in our education systems. 

“The Durham Commission will explore how creativity and creative thinking can be cultivated across the curriculum from nursery school through to higher education and beyond.

"We look forward to working with our colleagues at Arts Council England and the Commissioners to build on the UK’s existing strengths in this area and to maximise our potential in a globally competitive market.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, said: “Creative thinking is crucial to the development of young minds, encouraging the growth of confidence, adaptability and self-expression. We will set out to examine and define the value of creativity in all subjects, as well as the particular contribution made by cultural education. We shall look at the impact that creativity can have on social mobility and well-being and in encouraging all young people from across the whole of our diverse society to find fulfilment in their future lives and jobs.”

The work of the Commission will feed into the development of the Arts Council’s next 10 year strategy which will be published in late 2019.

Full details on the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education can be found online here

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