Creativity in Education

Submitting Institution

Birmingham City University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

Creativity research of the Centre for Research in Education (CRE) has impacted upon practice in teaching and learning throughout the UK, and a number of other countries. It has helped inform policy decisions, in terms of assessment at Key Stage 3 (KS3). It has had impact upon teaching and assessment practices around the world, with specific examples being cited from the USA, New Zealand, and Chile. In the UK it has been used by commercial organisations (The ABRSM), arts organisations (Sound and Music, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group), charities (Esmée Fairbairn), and Local Authorities (Birmingham City Council Music Service).

Underpinning research

Underpinning research has been developed across a number of funded projects, and outputs which result from them. Creative Partnerships (CP), latterly renamed creativity, culture and education (CCE) funded a number of research projects.

One of the significant pieces of CP-funded research Undertaken by Fautley and Hatcher involved a longitudinal study of curriculum change schools in Barnsley and Birmingham. This research found that significant developments in terms of personal and social learning could be evidenced from the schools adopting a drama-based cross-curricular approach to learning. This involved the schools in question moving away from the subject-based curriculum commonly found at KS3, and adopting instead a holistic thematic based approach to teaching and learning, built on drama pedagogy. This research has led directly to one book (Fautley et al 2011), and to significant portions of another (Fautley & Savage 2011). Hatcher has continued to have significant impact from his research publications in creativity, having recently written an important chapter on professional learning in the Routledge International handbook.

Another separately CP-funded research project involved investigating professional learning of teachers and creative agents and knowledge transfer that arises from such projects. This was a significant piece looking into creative agents being placed in schools in five English local authority areas. Findings included the issue of professional learning from and between teachers with regard to creative teaching and learning practices in schools was problematic. This research was reported upon directly in a keynote symposium at the 2008 BERA conference.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) funded research into the assessment, pedagogy, and curriculum of composing music in secondary schools. This was in direct relationship to their commercial interests, and informed their plans to develop in this area. This research featured in two peer-reviewed publications, detailed below. In another piece of continuing research building on this, Fautley found that that not only are current assessment practices inadequate, but that teachers were `gaming' the results. This research was widely reported in the national press (inter alia BBC; the Independent

The Esmèe Fairbairn charity working with the Sound and Music organisation, asked CRE to investigate the pedagogy of composing music in secondary schools nationally. This major piece of research is taking place nationwide, and involves internationally renowned composers working with schoolteachers and pupils. It deconstructs the creative processes employed by professional composers, and their transferability to school pupils.

Trinity College and the Open University commissioned CRE to investigate the efficacy of their continuing professional development (CPD) programme for music teachers. CPD is unusual for music educators, and so this project was ground-breaking in many ways. It uncovered a wealth of information regarding CPD provision more widely.

Birmingham City Council (the largest local authority in Europe) commissioned research into assessment of music lessons in whole class learning in Primary schools. This involves the Government funded `wider opportunities' provision in whole class instrumental teaching (WCIT). Research into assessment in creative subjects has significant impact on both National Curriculum thinking, and the ways in which statutory assessment regimes are being formulated. This has resulted in a change in a change in assessment practice across the authority. As a music service spokesperson observed:

"... with Martin's expertise we have piloted and rolled out a successful assessment model for year 4 WCIT. Following requests from Primary Head Teachers the model was rolled out last term across all 290 classes with positive feedback at the full staff meeting in July. The assessment model and its ease of use has made a large impact on the teachers delivering WCIT ... Additional evidence for the above is very much in this year's "buy back". Last year the majority of our whole class sessions went to one person delivery (from two) and with Martin's advice on the assessment model it helped engage the class teacher more in the sessions and this is very much evident in the buy back from schools. A total of 3.8% schools cancelled their sessions in July. The average in previous years is 10%..." (Letter from assistant head of service)

Ongoing work on creativity is well in hand, and CRE is at the forefront of pioneering assessment practices in arts education.

References to the research

• Fautley, M. (2010) Assessment in Music Education, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


• Fautley, M., Hatcher, R. & Millard, E. (2011) Remaking the curriculum : re-engaging young people in secondary school, Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham.


• Fautley, M. & Savage, J. (2011) Cross-curricular Teaching and Learning in the Secondary School: The Arts, Abingdon, Routledge.


• Hatcher, R. (2011) 'Professional learning for creative teaching and learning'. In Sefton-Green, J. (Ed), The Routledge international handbook of creative learning, London, Routledge.


• Fautley, M. & Savage, J. 2011: Assessment of composing in the lower secondary school in the English National Curriculum. British Journal of Music Education 28:1, 51-67


• Savage, J. & Fautley, M. 2011: The Organisation and Assessment of Composing at Key Stage 4 in English Secondary Schools. British Journal of Music Education 28:2, 135-157


Details of the impact

As a direct result of the work on curriculum development and creativity in music education, Fautley was on the steering committee for the production of secondary strategy materials for music education, produced and published by the (then) QCA in 2007. Subsequent to this, Fautley was a key member of a four-person committee at the QCA, charged with developing APP (assessing pupil performance materials) in music education. He is currently a member of the expert advisory panel for the new National Curriculum.

Fautley's work on assessment in music education has received widespread recognition in the United States, and he was invited by the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, to undertake joint research in this area. This has been reported on in a peer-reviewed paper presented at the International Society of Music Education conference in 2012. His work also came to the attention of other American universities, where his work has impacted extensively. In Florida, Fautley's work was significant in the way in which the new curriculum and assessments were devised from the outset, as was observed:

"In 2012 the State of Florida required that all teacher preparation programs revisit their curriculum in order to align with the new Florida Educator Accomplished Practices. The assessment work of Fautley influenced all aspects of this massive undertaking, for example, new syllabi for every undergraduate music class leading toward state certification including competency charts — with assessment rubrics, and critical task assignments — also with assessment rubrics" (From Florida International University)

Fautley has presented research findings on assessment of creativity at a range of conferences in the UK, and overseas too, including Germany, Greece, and China. Combining data from across a number of research projects, Fautley's (2010) book has been warmly received: "If God hadn't wanted us to sort out assessment in music education, he wouldn't have given us Martin Fautley" (David Ashworth, . Also, in the UK, a local authority adviser noted that:

"[Fautley's research on assessment] has been critical to the national development of thinking around assessment in music education. It has informed significant professional discussion about principles and pedagogical implications, both at national and local levels. Given the breadth of its scope, it is difficult to pinpoint precise examples of where a teacher has used a specific strategy from the research — but its importance to the national thinking about musical assessment should not be diminished because of this." (From County Inspector for Music, Hampshire.)

This work on assessment has also impacted upon New Zealand, as a user there observes:
"In teacher education, Assessment in Music Education directly informs my teaching of pre-service secondary music students, forming the basis of lectures on assessment. I have observed improved assessment practice in my pre-service student teachers as they put the key ideas, pedagogies and concepts in Assessment in Music into action in the classroom.

I have used Assessment in Music Education as a resource with teachers in our investigation into the assessment of group composing at senior secondary level. Martin Fautley's model of group composing has directly informed my own theoretical model which I have developed into an assessment tool" Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Fautley's assessment work has also used by the Chilean Government:
"[Fautley's] book Assessment in Music Education has been an indispensable book in the formulation of the new Music Curriculum for Chilean Music Education since music teachers in Chile lack proper orientations with regards to musical assessment." See corroborating statement, Chilean Government Advisor.

Fautley has co-authored with Richard Colwell of the USA (the world's leading expert on assessment in music education) a chapter on Assessment in the Secondary School Classroom in the Oxford Handbook of Music Education.

The Listen Imagine Compose ( research project, in which Fautley is principal investigator, is having impact now. Fautley has addressed the Association of British Orchestras, and directly resulting from this he has been asked by the Arts Council funded organisations to develop a tool for reflective practice in school-based arts projects. Fautley's work in this project has been cited by Ofsted as an example of good practice, where it was noted of his involvement "...they use his expertise in musical assessment to research the different ways in which composers and musicians used questioning techniques" ( He is a co-opted member of the Midlands working group on assessment and progression in music education, which is impacting on teaching and learning and policy in the region and beyond.

Fautley's research has had direct impact on end-users, as the Director of learning for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group observed:

"Professor Martin Fautley's input into BCMG's Learning and Participation Programme has had an enormous impact on: developing more effective evaluation and reflection procedures for projects; improving the quality of projects through unpicking and theorising our practice and pedagogy as an external evaluator and researcher; sharing new learning with our wider BCMG team of composers and workshop leaders through contribution to CPD and reflection sessions; raising the profile of BCMGs work through sharing joint research at national and international conferences."

The impact from creativity has been significant, and with continuing work and development in this area, will remain so.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Corroborating Statement, Head of Music, Chile Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación, Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación)
  2. Corroborating Statement, Associate Professor, Florida International University.
  3. Corroborating Statement, Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
  4. Corroborating Statement, Director of Learning and Participation, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
  5. Corroborating Statement, Assistant Head of Birmingham Music Service, Services for Education.
  6. Oftsed report
  7. Listen, Imagine, Compose website: