Barbican Centre Trust

Shifting the focus of education

Creative thinking and problem solving are two essential skills young people will need when they leave school. But how can they be nurtured during education?

We’re supporting some exciting research that will help find out. Our grant of £49,250 to the Barbican Centre Trust will fund a project aimed at developing arts-based teaching approaches in two London schools. Teachers and artists will join forces to rethink how the national curriculum is taught. When it comes to developing lessons, they’ll start with the principles of curiosity, creativity and compassion. This shift in focus will help pupils to develop life-long problem solving and creative thinking skills.

  • Creative thinking is repeatedly identified as one of the most wanted ‘fusion skills’ by employers (Edge Foundation 2022).
  • The Barbican Centre Trust’s pilot programme aims to engage up to 650 pupils and 50 teachers from Tower Hamlets and Islington in creative workshops with visiting artists.
  • In 2019/20, pre-pandemic, the Barbican presented 3,835 events with 4,310 artists from 58 nations.

Developing a new curriculum

Eight artists from the fields of theatre, dance, music and design will be paired with four primary teachers and four secondary teachers. Together they’ll co-create lessons and teaching tools across subject areas including maths and sciences.

The ideas and resources will be tested in the classroom, with each artist delivering two sessions per term. Researchers will gather feedback from teachers, creatives and pupils. They’ll suggest changes to the curriculum, timetabling, practice and culture in the schools that will help pupils to become more curious, creative and compassionate.

“Building on work of the leading researchers, educators, and thinkers, we believe that creativity is not just a vehicle for creating art, it is a way of seeing, engaging and responding to one’s surroundings. As the world is changing faster and young people are expected to have expertise in an increasing number of fields, the most effective way to invest in the future of young people today is to nourish their natural curiosity and compassion and teach them to think and solve problems in creative ways, together with others.”

Karena Johnson, Head of Creative Collaboration & Learning, Barbican

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