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Lack of creativity has been an ongoing problem in education (see for instance the Robinson Report, 1999, All our futures: Creativity, Culture and Education published by the DfES. This is of particular concern in Design & Technology, where professionals have asked, among others, the question of where designers of the future will come from (discussed in the Design & Technology Teachers' Association (DATA) 2002 report Creativity in Crisis and the annual Ofsted subject reports.

In September 2004, The Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge was awarded a major research grant by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to look into managing creativity in Design & Technology (D&T). This project, which is being led by Bill Nicholl, specifically aims to support the leadership of excellence in teaching and learning in D&T in the secondary context by:

  • Developing a model of learning and teaching in D&T that explicitly develops creativity, and
  • Supporting heads of D&T departments to become more effective in their role as leaders of learning in the subject - creating and managing a learning environment.

Project Outline

The Project will be ongoing between January 2005 and December 2007 and will involve a number of stages.

Stage 1 - Preliminary Work

Between January 2005 and July 2005 the Project Team investigated current practice in secondary D&T teaching to identify aspects of good practice with respect to the fostering of creativity. This entailed interviewing D&T teachers (14 in total) and groups of students (130 students in total) and observing a number of D&T lessons in schools serving a variety of communities (six in total). This work has been underpinned by the academic literature on creativity.

Findings will be used to inform the main intervention stage.

Stage 2 - Intervention Stage

This will take place between November 2005 and December 2007.

The Project Team will work collaboratively with a number of schools, known as Core Schools, to develop and refine teaching strategies and resources that foster creativity. Project team members will liaise with the appointed Creativity Coordinator in the D&T department in each school, over the two-year period, to cultivate genuine collaboration. This should ensure that strategies, developed jointly, are effectively evaluated. There will also be a number of workshops / conferences to enable Creativity Coordinators to share and discuss ideas with each other as well as the Project Team.

In addition to working with practitioners the Project Team will have the assistance of a number of Creativity Collaborators, whose role will be to suggest strategies to enhance creativity. This group will comprise a number of professional designers, some of whom will also be teachers. The Creativity Collaborators will also contribute to workshops and conferences.

Stage 3 - Dissemination

Dissemination will be ongoing throughout the lifespan of the project as appropriate, however there will also be a discrete dissemination phase from July 2007. Several conferences will be organised targeted at Heads of Design & Technology Departments to present materials and resources that have been developed and findings from the intervention stage.Throughout the work of the Project Team will be assessed by an external evaluator, appointed by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.


Summaries and references to research publications will be posted here as they become available.

Project Team

Project Director: Bill Nicholl
Research Associate: Ros McLellan
Project Secretary: Ann Curtis