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Inspiring creativity for life

Creativity is now in the top three qualities sought by employers from the world’s largest economies – and rightly so, says Mark Ronan, Headmaster at Pocklington School.

Posted on: 22 Mar 2016
Posted by: Mark Ronan

When we launched an appeal for a new Art and Design Technology Centre, we braced ourselves for concerns that its facilities would only benefit “arty” pupils, as opposed to budding scientists or engineers.

In the event, the supportive responses included a veterinary surgeon who credits carpentry skills with his success, and a dentist citing design technology. This along with numerous former pupils who have risen to the top of their creative fields, achieving considerable commercial success along the way.

We have long recognised that innovative, lateral thinking can solve problems across any workplace. That’s why our teaching is slanted towards nurturing the imaginative flights of fancy delightfully common to Prep School starters, so their creative spark is channelled to embrace each year’s curriculum demands, rather than extinguished by them.

Now employers from the world’s largest economies have predicted that creativity will be even more highly prized by 2020. Respondents across nine industries rated it among the top three most desirable qualities in a future labour market, in a survey for World Economic Forum report The Future of Jobs. The employers said creative people would be particularly in demand to figure out ways to apply new technology and create new products and services.

Last summer two of our Sixth Formers were awarded Arkwright Scholarships, an industry-supported scheme to identify and nurture future leaders in engineering and technical design. You might think engineering requires precision - and indeed it does - but the skills of innovation and adaptability are also vital if a company is to remain in a market-leading position.

The same mix of expertise and creativity in the face of change is becoming a vital combination across today’s ever-changing workplace. Similarly, the fusion of traditional arts and crafts with modern technology is more likely to produce a commercially successful product or service.

Our proposed £2.5m Art and Design Technology Centre, which has recently been granted planning permission, will be large enough to inspire the pursuit of traditional arts and crafts, as well as provide cutting-edge facilities for digital imaging, editing, animation and computer-aided design and manufacturing technology - all under one roof.

The principle of combining traditional arts with modern facilities isn't a new one for Pocklington School: our present Art and Design Technology department, which opened in 1969, was one of the first to do so.

The department has always fostered a sense of collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas, while maintaining a watchful eye for new concepts and technology. A glance at some of the careers of former Art and Design Technology Centre students demonstrates the ‘real life’ value of this approach, which informs all its teaching.

Our alumni have gone on to design sets for Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and the Opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics; lead the design of the new Silverstone Circuit and pits facility; create Apps; become a leading fashion stylist, and build a successful business designing furniture for the audio and TV industries – to mention but a few.

The creative industries are now worth £84.1billion per year to the UK economy, generating nearly £9.6million per hour, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It says the UK’s creative industries grew by 8.9% in 2014 – almost double the rate for the UK economy as a whole.

As a country, we have a great tradition of innovation. Ideas drive progress and are a key lever for prosperity. European Union analysis shows industries applying for more intellectual property rights generate more jobs, are more productive and pay significantly higher wages.

It’s often said that many of the jobs today’s pupils will apply for don’t yet exist, so resourceful, motivated employees who can think creatively, problem-solve and innovate will be increasingly prized. We want to develop these skills alongside the modern facilities which will help give them expression.

The new Art and Design Technology Centre is an ambitious project, but one we believe will prove invaluable for generations to come. Creativity is a key driver of economic success - and by creating the right environment, Pocklington School can inspire its pupils to lead the way.


About Mark Ronan

Mark Ronan is Headmaster at Pocklington School, a co-educational school in the picturesque rural setting of Yorkshire.