How refreshing it was to read again Sir Ken Robinson in last week’s TES, reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the All Our Futures report on creativity and educational policy in England and Wales, and to consider some of his comments alongside the discussions which are going on around Curriculum for Excellence . Robinson was bemoaning the fact that while most policymakers will instinctively argue that of course creativity is a good thing and we must have more of it, in reality they have at the back of their minds a notion that it is something messy and uncontrollable – in his words, “it sounds like people running around knocking down the furniture” – which presumably is why, ten years later, he feels that nothing much has changed:-
“We weren’t arguing for tinkering with the system; we were arguing for long-term, transformative policies because the old system is locked into an old culture – and we need a new culture for the 21st century. Kids starting school this year will be retiring in 2070.”
There are lessons to be learned here. It will very soon be a decade since the national debate in Scotland promised a radical shake-up of “the old system” and “the old culture” yet the parallel changes required in the accountability and assessment systems have still to materialise in a way that gives equal status to each of the four capacities. Secondary schools (and indeed some primary schools) may well continue to see their main role as preparing young people to sit exams and everything else as a welcome bonus but not a requirement, unless and until there is a clear sign that all achievements will be recognised in some way, and that schools will be judged on the personal development of all young people for whom they have some responsibility. The next few months could be crucial in determining whether policymakers are serious about the vision outlined in that ground-breaking document of November 2004.