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[P8] QCA - An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum

I contributed to this UK Qualifications and Curriculum Authority consultation as a member of a panel contracted to synthesise clearer ideas about ICT and creativity towards the end of a wider effort to consider creativity across the curriculum from 2000-2003
When Nov 01, 2002 to
Mar 31, 2003
Where London
Aim: To clarify criteria that explain why technology enhances creativity in learning.
Reflection: The summary table at the end of this article was developed by the QCA project to characterise creativity and the rôle of ICT. The development of all of these ideas, in the company of several colleagues who I highly rated for their thinking, gave me confidence in the usefulness of my analysis of the potential contribution of ICT, as my work provided a major part of the 'Features of ICT' column in the table.
ContributionI joined meetings to discuss and then write a contribution to the committee's report, the 'Features of ICT' section outlining how technology can enhance creativity. This contribution later became the basis for my analysis How technology can enhance learning [A2]. My part: 20%
Originality, impact and importanceThis was a synthesis of my original thinking and other sources including my experience as a designer in discussion with many others. This was newly articulated in print by me for this consultation and adopted by this national advisory body as part of a taxonomy for advice on future curriculum thinking nationally.
EvidenceThe brief, my report and the taxonomy are included in the portfolio.

This is the original brief for the work:


An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum 2000 – 2003

Contractor: Richard Millwood (Ultralab) - Budget Code: Fee: £2000 - Deadline: 24 January 2003


In March 2003 QCA will be providing advice to Creativity Advisory Group (CAG), and then ultimately Ministers, on the potential of ICT for promoting creativity across the National Curriculum.  We want your work to inform that advice.


To clarify how and why pupils’ creativity is promoted through their use of ICT to develop ideas and judge value and originality.


Write a paper which:

  • Explains how and why this use of ICT promotes creativity, making reference to:
    • the effect of the relevant features of ICT;
    • the effect on pupils’ creative thinking and behaviour;
    • the types of ICT applications used;
    • evidence of the effects of this use of ICT in practice.
  • Highlights the potential for this use of ICT to promote pupils’ creativity.
  • Makes recommendations and raises key issues.

Critical Success factors

The paper:

  • is written in plain English.
  • covers the requirements above.
  • can be used to inform advice to the CAG and Ministers on how and why ICT promotes creativity.
  • is received by the deadline date.


Send back the completed paper back to QCA by Monday the 24th of January.

Project Management

Seb Ross, QCA Subject Manager, will oversee the work of the contractor.  Please also send the paper via e-mail to


QCA owns all relevant data and material produced under this project.  A note confirming that the contractor understands these terms and agrees to comply with them will be included in the contract.


My contribution:

An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum 2000 – 2003

Contractor: Richard Millwood (Ultralab)

DRAFT 2 February 14th 2003


It is commonly held that the basis for an innovative and financially healthy nation is the creativity of its adult population in the workplace.

"Our success depends upon mobilising even more effectively the imagination, creativity, skills and talents of all our people. And it depends on using that knowledge and understanding to build economic strength and social harmony,"
Charles Clarke, UK Secretary of State for Education
in the government's white paper 'The Future of Higher Education' January 2003

I argue that creativity is more important than that, and that it underpins all learning in the development of ideas and concepts and furthermore fulfilment in people’s lives. As a natural part of everyday activity learners are creative in thought (as they listen, read or watch), natural expression (as they speak, play, perform or make) and more formal recorded expressions (as they write, diagram, prove or program a computer). Information & Communications Technology (ICT) can promote such expressive creativity in a number of ways to be described in this paper.

But expressive creativity has to be matched with evaluative power in order to develop ideas and to judge them for value and originality.  ICT also has role to play in enhancing evaluative power. Normally expressive creativity and evaluative power will happen in a cycle of improvement which ICT can enhance and maintain.

To summarise these concepts, the following diagram shows the factors in ICT which might enhance creativity both in expression and evaluation, and which are expanded and developed in this document:

ICT factors for creativity.png

Creativity in the wider context of classroom, school, community, nation or globe demands increasingly higher levels of originality as measured against these wider contexts and the contributions of increasing numbers.

Creativity at each of these levels of society, from individual to global is natural and instinctive, but is inhibited or enhanced by a number of interacting factors, some of which relate to competition and originality (winning or being unique), others to interpersonal and emotional relationships (valuation of oneself in relation to others) and yet more to skills and competence (ability to articulate creativity). Some of these factors are influenced by ICT, some are reduced in their effect as inhibitors and others enhanced by new opportunities.

It’s important to note that ICT cannot act in this way without the complicity of teachers – they are also creative, but need that to be recognised. ICT is often introduced as a support mechanism for the delivery of knowledge, but in this analysis it has to be the tool for developing pupil’s knowledge. Similarly teachers should be encouraged to see this perspective, of a tool culture rather than information culture. Thus teachers will not inhibit such use and indeed can join in the debate about the tool of ICT and how it is best used.

How ICT enhances expressive creativity


In a typical learning environment, students often have a stereotypical interpersonal relationship with those around them including peers and teachers. [Hargreaves 1975] This relationship often includes a judgemental factor, which both the student and the peer or teacher feel and which drives a particular negative behaviour: that of avoiding risks with intellectual ideas. This judgemental factor acts to prevent free expression, either because the student fears approbation or because they wish to please others, particularly the teacher, by seeking their answer already known to them but unknown to the student.  This in turn inhibits development of new ideas – good teachers (and friends) know how to turn this judgemental factor off explicitly when appropriate.

With ICT equipment, as with other tools and vehicles, there is an imaginary interpersonal relationship (consider the way in which ships are often called ‘she’ and imagined to have a life of their own). After some acquaintance with computers over a period of time, young people see through any pretence of intelligence or life in a computer and thus begin to see it as a neutral tool which although it may offer canned feedback, is clearly incapable of judgement.  Computers allow students to ‘say things out loud’, but without judging those things in an interpersonal manner. The computer is a silent helper in this sense and can be trusted with half-formed ideas and ideas which follow the students creative impulse.


A powerful spur to more complex expressions of ideas is the ability to re-express cheaply and repetitively.  The potato print transforms a simple shape into a rich pattern, the ‘automation’ provided by this simple tool allows a variety of re-arrangements of the shape to be explored at low cost and with reliable quality.

Computers provide this kind of automation and much more, through copy and paste in almost every program, through formulae and ‘Fill down’ in a spreadsheet and, most important of all, through programming languages.

Arguably, programming has lead to the current information age, since all technologies related to ICT rely on computer programs to automate functions to a level where qualitative changes in education, the workplace and society as a whole have taken place and are still developing.  This explosion in creativity ought to be more widely available to all learners in educational contexts, but suffers from a disregard for tools which is an endemic problem in our society [Owers 2001].


The capacity for learners to use multiple media through ICT increases the opportunity to work in alternate modalities to the predominant reading and writing. ICT simplifies the production of visual and aural media as well as making viewing and listening a more delightful engagement with material. Of even greater consequence is the potential for reconstruction in film, hypermedia (the establishment of networks of knowledge) and linear presentations.  These are integrations of multiple media and are perhaps the most demanding of communications, not only anticipating audience viewing but also audience choice of sequence.


ICT media are unique in that little imprint of the creator’s weakness in production are seen – perfect fonts, geometric accuracy and colour faithfulness permit the weakest of learners to produce material which compares, on the level of media quality, with that of the most experienced professional. This means that learners’ self-esteem, which is so heavily knocked by poor handwriting, inaccurate drawing or inadequate oral skills, can be raised. This in turn encourages risk-taking and attention to the content of ideas – continuing engagement which can lead to judgements about higher-order issues on a level playing field.


ICT tools can promote the development of ideas, paradoxically, by constraining the universe of possible expressions. In many of the arts, the choice of constraint can lead to greater fertility by focussing on specific aspects of ideas – this kind of limit can offer similar gains in ICT. In graphic programs, limits on the position of the cursor to a grid can lead to the rapid development of diagrams. In geometry programs in Maths, constraints can help learners see important connections and propose new interpretations of figures.


The computer frequently pleases, aesthetically and affectively, in a way that delights the learner. This positive mood is clearly valuable to creativity, as a means of sustaining motivation at the very least.


In order to embark on any piece of work of substance, a start has to be made – for many learners, making this start is difficult because making mistakes has such a disastrous effect on continuation. Many young people in schools use correction fluid to eradicate ‘errors’ as they perceive them, or resort to ripping pages out of books in order to achieve a ‘perfect’ copy. Provisionality is that certain knowledge that with a computer, one can begin developing ideas and, at little labour cost, perfect and re-draft those ideas with no evidence of the process. This means that for creativity, one can start recording ideas out of order, in draft form and incomplete. For many, this knowledge unlocks their ideas, which would otherwise not be worth expressing.

How ICT enhances evaluative power


Computers offer a powerful tool for certain ideas, which are developed in symbolic, formal languages. These include spreadsheet formulae, programming languages and database design. If these formal systems are used to develop ideas, then it is possible for the computer to ‘execute’ them and display their consequences. Often, in order to judge the success of an idea, this output can be compared to that anticipated and evaluation independent of a peer or teacher can take place. The programming language Logo has provided a powerful example of this effect, in some cases leading learners into extraordinary intellectual and creative endeavour. [Papert 1980]


Most work on a computer can be saved for later perusal or saved at intervals to record drafts.  In the development of ideas this can help learners see how their ideas have developed, or peers and teachers to understand and judge their value and originality. In the long term, work that has been saved in this way and compiled provides a portfolio of work.  This portfolio can be used to represent the learner’s capability, but also may be mined for new starting points by that learner in a much more accessible and labour saving way than with a traditional portfolio. New connections can be made between past work and present concerns – often surprising insights can be obtained, because ICT has recorded the work and allowed searching and indexing to take place.


ICT offers a number of ways to allow communication of ideas to take place, both deliberately and serendipitously.  By using presentation tools, learners can show and defend their ideas to audiences in the whole classroom, potentially with access to to the whole body of their work (see Record above).

This kind of ICT use, using projectors or large screens in a classroom context, enhances another kind of creativity which may be teacher-led. This is described  as ‘interthinking’ [Mercer 2002], where learners sharing a knowledge context and background, debate together, seeking each other’s views and respecting diversity but also working towards consensus. The projected computer screen is a focus for representing the current state of the ideas being developed by the class. Some software has been specifically designed to benefit from this shared working knowledge [Millwood & Mladenova 1994], but all software can be used in this mode. It has many of the advantages described above for the individual, but now for the group e.g. quality, multimedia and provisionality. Each of these promote creativity to a far greater degree than a more traditional whiteboard.

By joining online communities through the Internet, a wider, but identified audience can be found for ideas and dialogue with others following the same interest can be informative in order to judge work.  Publishing material on web pages permits the globe to take part in the evaluation of ideas and work. This is clearly potential audience not real audience, not all viewers will see or comment on such work. Nevertheless the power of potential audience to support both expression and evaluation is very real in the mind of the learner and can provide powerful motivational force and raise ambition.


The analysis of the development of ideas as a cycle of expressive creativity and evaluative power helps us identify key factors which ICT offers to promote such development, but also the judgement of both value and originality.


  1. Hargreaves, D.H., (1975), Interpersonal Relations and Education, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  2. Owers, S.C. (2001), The Place And Perception Of Technology In The Curriculum, PhD thesis available at
  3. Papert, S. (1981) Mindstorms, Harvester Press.
  4. Mercer, N. (2002)
  5. Millwood R., Mladenova G., Modelling with ordinal data to support debate of subjective issues, proceedings of East-West conference Computer Technologies in Education part 2  p166, Crimea, Ukraine,  1994




QCA's Creativity Framework Taxonomy

Definition of Creativity

Pupils Creative thinking and Behaviour

Use of ICT

Features of ICT

ICT Applications

  • Using imagination
  • A fashioning Process
  • Pursuing purpose
  • Being Original
  • Judging Value
  • Questioning and Challenging
  • Making connections and Seeing relationships
  • Envisaging what might be
  • Playing with Ideas
  • Representing Ideas
  • Evaluating the effects of Ideas
  • Making Connections
  • Creating and Making meaning
  • Publishing
  • Developing Ideas
  • Collaborating
  • Communicating
  • Creating a learning environment
  • Assessing


  • Provisonality
  • Interactivity
  • Capacity
  • Range
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Quality
  • Automation
  • Multi-modality
  • Neutrality
  • Social Credibility
  • Information resources
  • Publishing and presenting software
  • Creative Software Tools
  • Simulations and Modelling
  • Programming and Control applications
  • Datalogging
  • Databases, Spreadsheets, graph plotters and graphical calculators
  • Programs that support learning in a specific context.

NACCCE: All our futures:

Creativity, Culture and Education, 1999.

Taken from Creativity Pack information sheet 3

(September 2002)


Developed from:

Draft Literature Review in

New Technologies and Learning

– A report for Nesta FutureLab (A.M. Loveless October 2002)

Developed from ICT features

defined by DFEE 1998

and R Millwood (Ultralab) presentation

(October 2002)

Taken from:

Key Stage 3 National Strategy

– Framework for teaching ICT

capability: Years 7, 8, 9

(DFES 2002)

(Words: 2910 )

Filed under: ,

Lewis Carroll describes a fictional map that had:

"the scale of a mile to the mile."

A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that:

"we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."
— Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Lewis Carroll, 1893

Timeline instructions

- Drag in the timeline to move it left and right

- Double-click in the overview to centre there

- Click on an event to see a summary

- Click on the summary's title to read more


Timeline key:

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. education & The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. employment

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. project

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. professional

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. conference

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. publication

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'. teaching

The dissertation and portfolio for Richard Millwood's PhD by Retrospective Practice titled 'The Design Of Learner-centred, Technology-enhanced Education'.selected for the PhD