Being Creative in Primary English


Adrian Copping

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    About the Author

    Adrian Copping has been working in teacher education for the last twelve years. At present, he is Primary PGCE Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in English and Literacy based at the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria. Previously, Adrian worked at two contrasting schools in Lancashire, as class teacher and leader. Adrian’s particular interests are the use of teacher-in-role and other drama techniques to develop children’s writing and understanding of text and also the impact of creative thinking on children’s writing. Adrian has presented work on this at various national and international conferences. In his teacher education work, Adrian continues to develop close working relationships with primary schools, which have enabled him to keep abreast of current practice as well as develop his areas of research interest.


    I would like to acknowledge, with immense gratitude, the many teachers, student teachers and children who have wittingly and unwittingly contributed to this book. Particularly, I would like to thank Kate Skellern from Stramongate Primary School, Kendal, Cumbria, for her support with Chapter 5 on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

    I would also like to thank my wife, Ceridwen, for her proof-reading and attention to detail, and also to thank our children, Kezziah, Arron and Tirzah, for allowing me to sit in my study during holiday time and write this book. I appreciate your patience and your insights into learning, teaching and school.

  • Concluding remarks

    One of the main threads running through all the chapters in this book is the classroom environment. Creating an effective environment is vital for the facilitation of creative learning and teaching. There are typically three facets to any classroom environment: the physical environment, the social environment and the cognitive environment. Much of what has been discussed throughout this book relates to the cognitive and social environment, and I want to conclude by pulling together some of the key messages that I have already shared.

    In terms of the social environment, there needs to be an ethos of trust and respect and this must be designed by the teacher for creative learning and teaching to occur. Both the teacher and the children must trust each other; and the children must trust each other in order to work together, take risks with learning and explore concepts together. Talk for learning is another key aspect of the social environment, too. Children must be comfortable talking with everyone in their class, learning together and building on each other’s ideas in a wide variety of contexts. This will always be challenging because social relationships are one of the hardest aspects of school to have success in. They require significant interpersonal and intrapersonal skills as well as negotiation, emotional intelligence and empathy. But, as a teacher, it is worth working hard to facilitate this as much as possible because relationships are at the heart of effective teaching. When these two elements of trust and working together are in place, they can create a platform for working in-role, which can motivate, engage and enthuse children in learning and can be used as a tool for developing skills, knowledge and understanding.

    This leads me nicely onto the cognitive classroom environment. The cognitive environment that we as teachers create arises out of what we believe about learning and teaching and how children learn. If I believe that children learn by constructing knowledge through dialogue, then the activities I facilitate will be characterised by that belief. I may not do so much upfront teaching, but I might do more facilitation of learning. I may more likely guide rather than dictate. Children will play an active part in their learning. If I believe that children learn best through play and discovery, you could expect children in my class to be exploring, thinking, playing, arriving at their own solutions and learning a diverse range of things, beyond my learning intentions for the session. Children learn through the process of learning, rather than by producing a product as proof of learning. Here is where creativity lies and this is what characterises creative learning and, in the context of this book, creative learning in primary English.

    As you read this book, you will see lots of connections between English and history. I make no apologies for that as there are so many links that can be made between these two subjects. Skills, knowledge, concepts and understanding in both subject disciplines lend themselves beautifully to using one as a context for the other. However, there will be just as many for other curriculum subjects and I would urge you, as you again read some of the case studies and examples, to use them as a basis for letting your own creative connections develop. One thing is clear, for English to be taught creatively and effectively in primary schools, there needs to be relevance and purpose which a wider topic can provide, but also an appreciation of an audience. Who will your children write for?

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