Why was the project needed?
Teachers wanted to build their experience of the creative and cultural industries to help promote cultural education, teaching for creativity and creative careers.
Young people wanted to gain first-hand experience in the arts, digital and creative industries and wider culture and heritage sector, allowing them to build essential skills and paving pathways into creative employment.
What happened and what was the impact?
The Creative Brief programme built on previous learning from Creating the Future, a progressive framework of creative career opportunities co-developed with NEACO, ARU, UCP and the Skills Service; and Creative and Cultural Futures, the project postponed by the pandemic. It was built on the following principles:
Live engagement with professionals that live and work locally is important to authentically show students that opportunities for creative jobs exist locally. Social capital is also important in the creative sector and we wanted to introduce students to places and people they could visit or contact outside of school.
Skills development was a key factor requiring an opportunity with enough time to show change. The Creative Brief programme is designed to be an 8-week programme. We used the Skills Builder Essential Skills Framework, offered training for teachers and evaluated progress in student logbooks throughout.
Creativity is a skill innate in everyone, however it can be grown and strengthened. This is not a programme only designed for students studying arts subjects. It is also an enrichment programme.
In the first session, students received a brief in a recorded video, setting them a task that forms the activity for the rest of the programme. The brief setter joined the group for a live Q and A session via zoom. Briefs are available for each of the 12 creative industry subsectors and schools had free choice.
The 8-week programme set out activities connected to the brief, opportunities to check ideas with peers, a mid-project check in with the brief setter, opportunities to research other jobs roles and share findings, and a final presentation to the brief setter.
What did and didn't work?
Improvements in cultural learning, in and out of schools, help promote creative careers in a sustainable way.
Our key objectives were:
• Development of capacities in schools and the creative industries to offer quality cultural opportunities.
• Brokering of strong partnerships between education and creative industries/cultural organisations.
• Improvement of children and young people’s participation in arts and culture in and out of school.
• Building children and young people’s essential skills and resilience so that they can reach their aspirations.
Ideally, the programme would be enriched with bolt-on workplace visits like the Culture Tester visits run in October 2019. However due to the pandemic, this was not possible in this pilot. The Culture Catalogue, already developed in the previous project, has remained up to date so schools and families can independently find creative skills activities and opportunities from local and national organisations.
The Skills Builder Framework is not being used in many places across the Festival Bridge region. Babylon Arts have developed knowledge and expertise through this project and have worked directly with Skills Builder to explore how best to embed and measure skills through this programme. It was also new to schools. Skills Builder have defined Creative Briefs as a Level 4 Impact project (Level 5 is their highest status).
Evaluation was done via informal conversations with staff and a teacher survey. Student testimonies and reflections are collected in logbooks and so teachers were asked to monitor and share these.
How did you measure success?
- More than 85% of pupils participating in the Creative Briefs project demonstrated progress against at least one of the two bespoke Essential Skills for their Creative Brief.
- More than 85% of pupils participating in the Creative Briefs Project demonstrated progress against the Aiming High Essential Skill on the Skills Builder Framework.
- More than 85% of participating staff reported improved confidence in assessing students’ progress against the Skills Builder Framework.
- 100% of the schools participating in the Creative Brief project sent at least one staff member to a Skills Builder Training workshop in preparation of their participation.
- 50% of students said they had thought about their future career and had some ideas of what they might do, with 21% commenting that they had just started to think about their future.
The programme consisted of five strands:
- Culture Champions with Anglian Gateway Teaching School Alliance. This was a peer learning and training offer for teachers in primary, secondary and special schools with 4 peer learning and training sessions developing creativity and leadership through enquiry-based reflective practice, supporting school-to-school working.
- Cultural Tester Visits with Babylon Arts. We offered ECF secondary schools the opportunity to visit cultural and creative industries for “meaningful employer encounters” with industry talks, workshops, and hands-on activities during the national Discover! Creative Careers Week from 18-22 November 2019. This included opportunities to visit further and higher education institutions.188 students took part in 7 cultural testers from 7 secondary schools, reaching double our target number of students.
- Culture Challenge Workshops with Babylon Arts. These were designed to be 12 sequential enrichment workshops in school facilitated by industry professionals where students respond to a live brief, or ‘culture challenge’, e.g. promote an arts event to a new audience or curate an exhibition online. Arts Award was offered as part of this activity.Liaison with schools started in September 2019 and we found that each school needed a slightly different approach. The liaison role played by Babylon Arts during the 2019 Autumn Term was essential to design an appropriate programme in response to the school’s needs, identify and contract a cultural professional or organisation, and build the relationship between the school and the artist. Delivery had been scheduled for 7 secondary schools in the Spring and Summer terms. When schools closed, 26 students were mid-way through their Cultural Challenge programmes with a further 4 programmes ready to go for the summer term involving a further 85 students. 1 school committed but not confirmed.
- Culture Catalogue with Babylon Arts. The Culture Catalogue was launched during National Careers Week on the 3rd March 2020 and is available to view in the resources section of this Big Idea.The variety of offers some from local, regional and national organisations and are underpinned by Skills Builder badge where possible – activities include workshops through to meet the employer films. The Culture Catalogue currently holds 64 different bits of content. During the pandemic, digital offers were highlighted and continue to be so. The catalogue also includes access to two creative challenge packs that were developed by local cultural education partnerships across the Festival Bridge area during Summer 2020 including activities designed by 24 local professional artists – our practice is now to purposefully feature the biographies of artists in work we commission so students, teachers and families can easily find out more.
- Creative Zone with Peter Thornton and Peterborough Films. Festival Bridge designed interactive Creating the Future Live (CTF Live) streams as a solution to creative industries not often being able to attend Skills Events. This meets the Gatsby requirements, enabling students to have the opportunity to meet and talk to creative professionals living and working locally. Recordings, videos and resources are available to download after the live streamed event. In total, CTF Live films have been watched well over 1000 times.A live broadcast took place on 19th November2019 featuring Jon Cockley (Handsome Frank Illustration Agency), Miranda Stearn (University of Cambridge Museums), Adam Clarke (professional Minecraft artist), and Kate Marsh (Peterborough based and disabled dance artist). The broadcast is available to schools online as a careers resource. A group of year 10s from Witchford Village College logged in live. Student’s feedback collected via a survey shows that a live broadcast is an effective way to learn about careers. Students welcomed the opportunity to ask questions. With guidance from partners about the gaps students were facing while learning at home, CTF Live was redesigned to support students studying arts subjects, with the aim of supporting learning around careers and employability for year 10s who missed out on work experience and meeting the needs of year 12s looking to make university course choices. 3 sets of interviews were released in May, June and July 2020 – these were subject themed, featured individual interviews with professionals and panel discussions and were shared by teachers and watched at home by students.