Can #creative #schools get great results? Watch this #video of a fantastic primary and judge for yourself…

Yesterday, I visited Gallions Primary school in Beckton, Newham and was truly inspired by the wonderful work that’s going on there. I was invited to see their work by an organisation called Open Futures, which aims to help primary school children in the UK and in India learn through cooking, growing things, asking questions and making films. The Open Futures organisation, funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust, does not give money directly to schools, but helps with providing training and offering expert help. These are the organisations that help Open Futures:

As the headteacher, Paul Jackson, explained to me, Gallions has always been a creative school, but has greatly benefitted from working with Open Futures. Having hit a trough with a bout of bad SATs results a few years ago, it is now vastly improved and is one of the most improved schools in the country. I was very impressed by the way in which the school had combined a very creative curriculum with a rigorous academic approach; Paul Jackson explains how this works in the video.

For me, visiting Gallions was a real message of hope: its success shows that getting great results and being creative are not incompatible. It is something I’ve found very hard to juggle in my own teaching, but I think if the full weight of an institution is behind a creative approach then you can really achieve great things. The achievements of Gallions shows that you don’t have to go down the route of draconian discipline, serried ranks and lots of upfront teaching to get good results. Ultimately, the creative approach pays richer dividens because after students have left school they can think for themselves; they have initiative; they are problem-solvers; they’ve learnt the value of enquiry.

Gallions is a local authority school and puts paid to another myth that you have to be an academy or free school to innovate in your curriculum. Headteachers of LA schools have a great deal of autonomy to shape their own ways of thinking. And you could argue that they actually have more freedom than free schools which are part of chains. For example, Steiner schools purport to offer a creative curriculum but they are actually very dogmatic and rigid in their approach, children are subject to many bizarre dictats and are encouraged not to have vaccinations. I thought Gallions showed the way forward for sensible people who want children to be creative in schools in that they achieved a real sense of balance between creativity and meeting various exam targets. Watch the video and judge for yourself…



Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

Categories Creativity, Ofsted, TeachersTags, , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

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