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The creative curriculum is under-serving our children.

The creative curriculum is under-serving our children.
Why has creativity has fallen out of favour in our classrooms – particularly when it’s all the rage in today’s boardrooms.    

If you ask any business leader what is keeping them awake at night right now, I would bet that the ability of their teams to innovate and creatively adapt to rapid change would be a common concern. In fact, by 2020 creativity will be in the top three most valued skills for future jobs, according to the World Economic Forum.

The creative sector is the fastest growing part of the UK economy and, as everyone knows, Manchester has a global reputation for delivering world class work in this area. Figures released by DCMS late last year showed the sector is worth £91.2bn to the UK economy and had the highest growth rate, growing at twice the rate of the UK economy as a whole. Research by consultancy McKinsey also found that whilst measuring creativity remains an inexact science, there is clear evidence of its significant impact on a business’s bottom line.

So why, when the business world is focusing on the value of creativity, do I sense that many of our schools are being forced to the do the exact opposite? Pupils are certainly moving away from creative subjects, with results last August revealing an 8.4% drop year on year in the number of students sitting arts and creative subjects at GCSE. Naturally, the creative industries view this trend with alarm.

The new GCSE curriculum is thorough, tough and absolutely setting challenges for our children that will test their intellect in a way previously reserved for A Level students. But is it doing so at the expense of subjects that help students to develop their creative side and ultimately better prepare them for the world of work? In fact do children today (and indeed their often fee-paying parents) see the creative industries as an attractive sector to work in?

The Children’s Global Media Summit, held here in Manchester last year, explored a whole host of challenges being faced by business, media and even Government as they look to ensure that younger generations are able to get the most out of the opportunities technology offers, while still protecting them from the risks it also presents.

The ability to be your own content creator and publisher, to learn anything you want to and find inspiration in a global sense is something we need to help children embrace. We are living in extraordinary times but to harness these opportunities, children need to be given time to be creative. That means demonstrating that those skills are valued in the classroom and ultimately in the workplace.

At BJL we are encouraging our team to go into schools and offer mentoring support to children wherever possible. We also work with a wide range of charities and organisations including Debate Mate and Ideas Foundation to make sure that children from primary school age and above are aware of the opportunities that are available in the creative industries.

We urgently need to attract a more diverse workforce if we are going to continue to be effective. Together we have to both inspire and break down this ‘not for me’ mindset that could be toxic for such an important sector to the economy. We must make sure future generations and their parents know that creativity is valued.

Let’s hope that as our young people go through the summer exam season, we’ve left enough space for them to be inspired and be creative. Otherwise the business leaders of the future will also be facing sleepless nights.


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