Creativity in schools essential to preparing young people for future uncertainty and change

New research released today by the Australia Council for the Arts provides powerful evidence for the wide-reaching benefits of creativity in education.

Cultivating Creativity: A study of the Sydney Opera House’s Creative Leadership in Learning Program shows creative learning approaches help build confidence, improve academic engagement and prepare young people forfuture disruption and change. It also transforms teaching staff and the school community.

The report reveals that applying creativity has the potential to holistically impact children – academically, socially and emotionally – and enhance learning across a range of academic subjects.

Conducted over two years, the joint research partnership between the Australia Council and the Opera House examined the impact of the Creative Leadershipin Learning (CLIL) program, an innovative Opera House program that works with schools to embed creativity in approaches to teaching and learning.

The research shows how creative approaches positively impact school culture,enhance the sense of community and help students to thrive in uncertain times.

It demonstrates that applying creativity in education can dramatically increase student engagement, equipping both students and the teaching community with the skills and capabilities to meet difference, difficulty and the previously unimaginable with confidence.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher said:

I commend the Australia Council and the Sydney Opera House onpartnering to deliver this report, which offers valuable insights into the crucial role of arts and creativity in equipping our young people with the resilience and confidence they will need for the future.

The Creative Leadership in Learning program is having extremely positive impacts – on teachers, students, families and on the culture of participating schools. Students are experiencing increased engagement with the curriculum, and elevated excitement for learning. Engaging with creativity at school has encouraged students to take risks, share their thoughts, and try new ideas.

For teachers, the program has increased engagement with their teaching practice, enlivening the curriculum and leading to new flexible experiences with students. Through participation in CLIL’s ‘teacher professional learning’, teachers have enjoyed increased support,collaboration and trust between colleagues, resulting in improved health and wellbeing.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette AM said:

This important research further reinforces what we know – that arts and creativity have the power to transform us, and certainly in education. Cultivating Creativity is an optimistic, exciting and useful document that will help educators and cultural organisations adapt for the 21st century.

CLIL has led to increased parent engagement with both their children’s schoolwork and with the school more broadly, enhancing a shared sense of community. Within schools, CLIL has changed the meaning of creativity and its significant potential for learning across a range of academic subjects, not only those typically associated with the arts. The program is enabling schools to spark a conversation with families, students and other educators about the value of creativity in building new skills such as resilience and adaptability, which will be valued in a new, complex world of work.

NSW Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Don Harwin said:

Cultivating Creativity demonstrates that the Opera House’s innovative program Creative Leadership in Learning is immensely valuable to the NSW community. Supporting schools and students to teach and learn through creativity helps build vital relationships and fosters resilience and imaginative thinking, which is so important in this unprecedented year. I applaud the Sydney Opera House and the Australia Council for the Arts on their collaboration that has reminded us all of the power of creativity in shaping our young people’s futures.

The report identifies new areas of professional and creative engagement forartists and their work, and points to new and vital areas of outreach and learning activity for cultural organisations.

Sydney Opera House Director of Programming Fiona Winning said:

Over the past 4 years, the Opera House’s Creative Leadership in Learning program has opened the Opera House to a new generation of audiences and artists. As demonstrated through the Cultivating Creativity report, the program has far-reaching positive impacts within the school ecosystem, embedding a culture of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking – the very skills that are essential for the next generation to navigate and thrive in an uncertain future.

For participating artists, CLIL has expanded the horizon and stimuli for creative practice. Artists have experienced new contexts for collaboration, and even new concepts of what artistic collaboration might mean. For many artists, CLIL has also provided a new professional context for their practice, and an important new source of income.

CLIL has also promoted a new relationship between schools and the Opera House – one that is based on collaboration and a connection that lasts over time. For many who might not have previously attended a performance at the Opera House, CLIL has cultivated a feeling of belonging and connection with this icon of Sydney cultural life.

Header photo: Daniel Boud

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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