TEACHERS from schools at a York-based academy trust have travelled to Finland to help develop their creativity.

The group for Ebor Academy Trust have been visiting schools in Finland as well as Plymouth as part of the initiative.

Finland has a reputation for innovative, creative education and the Plymouth School of Creative Arts focuses on ‘make, discover perform’ learning.

The Ebor teachers, part of a curriculum development team, say examples of good practice they have witnessed will help shape the upcoming Creative Arts Academy York and would be considered by head teachers across all Ebor schools.

Approval for the city’s new Creative Arts Academy, for 5-11 year-olds, was granted by the government in July 2016 and details of where it will be and when it will open, are expected soon.

Ebor chief executive, Richard Ludlow, said: “I have always believed creativity and the creative arts should be encouraged in our schools and the approval of our bid to set up a new type of school has given Ebor the opportunity to thoroughly research how we can plan a 21st century education for 21st century citizens.

“It’s a tremendous career development opportunity for our teachers and the ideas they are bringing back may yet have profound beneficial consequences for our children.”

Jo Sutton, a maths Academy Specialist within Ebor, said: “Whenever possible, subjects would be merged to create a more rounded approach to learning, with a strong emphasis on nurturing self-confidence and autonomy within the classroom.”

Emma Langan, a teacher at Hob Moor Oaks special school in York, said: “We saw how students in both settings are taught to apply their creative thinking to problem solving across the curriculum. And it would be fabulous to see even more collaboration among staff in our schools. Children at both settings we visited benefited from staff teaching their specialisms across their key stage – not just to their own class.”

Will Preston, a teacher at Brotherton and Byram Community Primary Academy near Selby, said: “What we need now, as teachers, is greater trust and autonomy to work to our strengths and to put passionate teachers in the driving seat of our schools. The Finnish system of introducing formal learning at age seven, after a number of years of entwined play and learning, highlighted how critical well-formed foundations are to enable children to carve out learning pathways. Comparatively, Plymouth School of Creative Arts’ consideration of ‘stage, not age’ was refreshing and exciting.”

Jo Sawyer, head teacher at Park Grove Primary Academy in York said she liked the idea of a more informal, play-based curriculum until the age of seven: “I believe this would be better for the children and would mean they would learn to read and write at their own pace. However, this would rely on the government removing formal testing completely for children up to this age.”