Latest Press Releases



Towards a Creative Curriculum: Friday 10 January 2020

Global Teacher Prize winner, Andria Zafirakou; artist, Bob and Roberta Smith; and Professor of Creative Education at the Warwick Business School, Jonothan Neelands, are among keynote speakers announced today as part of a major new conference from Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning and RSC Education.

Entitled Towards a Creative Curriculum, the conference – a first for both RSC Education and Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning – will explore the impact of arts and cultural learning on young people and how it can support the new Ofsted framework. Aimed at teachers from early years to Key Stage 3, the event will take place on Friday 10 January 2020 at the Barbican Centre as part of the RSC’s London Season at the Barbican.

The conference comes at a critical time for arts and cultural education as research, including the Royal Shakespeare Company’s own Time to Listen* research, increasingly points to the crucial role that these subjects and experiences play in maintaining wellbeing and encouraging creativity, innovation, empathy and resilience in young people. At the same time there is growing concern about the sharp decline in the number of students opting for arts subjects at GCSE and beyond, as well as the number of arts teachers and hours spent teaching arts subjects in state-funded schools.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of RSC Education, commented:

‘Leading educators and employers (including the World Economic Forum) agree that problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the top three skills children need for future success. However, we know from our own Time to Listen research that many students feel that arts subjects are now one of the only places where they are able to develop these important capacities. There’s a clear mismatch between the skills that leading educators and policymakers know young people will need in the future, and the messages and opportunities that today’s students are being offered. We need to address this as a matter of urgency. I am delighted that together with Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning, we are mounting this conference as a must for any teacher interested in the unique role that arts-based learning plays in realising the potential of all young people regardless of age, background or perceived ability.’

Jenny Mollica, Director of Creative Learning for the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, said:

‘We are delighted to be working with RSC Education on this exciting new event which will provide teachers and educators with the tools and inspiration they need to support arts-based learning in the classroom. At a time of great uncertainty, the arts can play a unique role in helping us to create meaning and make sense of the world, providing us with essential skills to support our personal and professional development. With the new Ofsted framework now in place, this is a timely moment for teachers and educators to explore the powerful role that the arts and creativity can play in delivering a truly broad and balanced curriculum; raising aspirations and achievement, supporting emotional health and wellbeing, and giving children the very best start in life.’

2018 Global Teacher Prize winner, Andria Zafirakou, will join Professor Neelands and art education advocate, Bob and Roberta Smith, alongside a host of practising teachers and senior leaders, to examine the issues and explore how the arts and cultural learning support the new Ofsted framework.

The conference will offer inspiring professional learning opportunities for teachers who want to develop and extend their knowledge of arts-based learning in the classroom. It will also provide a platform for sharing best practice from across the country as well as the latest research and evidence about how cultural learning can deepen pupil engagement as well as improve resilience, creativity, oracy and confidence.

Delegates will hear directly from teachers and school leaders whose commitment to arts and cultural learning has driven improvement and raised aspirations and attainment. Attendees will also participate in practical workshops and sessions led by experts in creative writing, drama, dance, music, the visual arts and Shakespeare, providing new ideas and tools that they can take away and use directly in their own classrooms.

The day will begin at 10.30am and is due to end around 5.30pm. It is suitable for those working with young people up to Key Stage 3 and costs £65 per teacher when booked before 31 October 2019 (£90 thereafter).

For more information and how to book:



The Towards a Creative Curriculum conference is generously supported by the Kusuma Trust UK. 

The work of the RSC Education Department is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Adobe, The Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Samsung, The Schroder Foundation, The Polonsky Foundation, GRoW @ Annenberg, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, The Ernest Cook Trust and TAK Advisory Limited.


About keynote speakers:

Bob and Roberta Smith

Bob and Roberta Smith is the pseudonym for Patrick Brill, a British contemporary artist, writer, author, musician, art education advocate and renowned keynote speaker. He is known for his "slogan" art and is vehemently passionate about the need for and value of the arts in education.

Andria Zafirakou 

In 2018, Andria Zafirakou won the Global Teacher Prize. She teaches arts and textiles at Alperton Community School, a secondary school academy in the inner-city borough of Brent - one of the most disadvantaged and ethnically diverse places in the country. Working as a member of the senior leadership team and alongside other teachers, Andria redesigned the curriculum across all subjects from scratch to ensure that it resonated with her pupils. Andria’s determination to move beyond an identikit school curriculum has seen Alperton awarded the Institute of Education’s Professional Development Platinum Mark, an honour fewer than 10 British schools have ever achieved. Alperton is now in the top 1 to 5% of the country in terms of qualifications and accreditations.

Professor Jonothan Neelands

Jonothan Neelands PhD, DSc is a National Teaching Fellow, Academic Direcctor for Cultural Partnerships for the University of Warwick, Professor of Creative Education at the Warwick Business School (WBS) and Professor in Drama and Theatre Education at the University of Warwick. Jonothan was Director of Study for the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value and Director of Research Projects for the Creative Industries Federation. He was the lead writer for the Coventry Cultural Strategy 2017-2027 and contributed to Coventry’s successful bid to the UK City of Culture 2021 and is now the Academic Lead for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Coventry City of Culture 2021. 


*About Time to Listen

In October 2018 the RSC, Tate and the University of Nottingham launched the most comprehensive study to date as to why arts subjects matter to young people. Time to Listen analysed 6,000 responses from young people aged 14–18 over three years and revealed the positive difference that sustained engagement with arts and cultural education has on the lives of young people. Participants talked overwhelmingly about arts subjects are the only places where young people feel encouraged to form their own opinion, express ideas, think creatively and critically and explore and respect alternative views.  The study also revealed that young people value the arts as a crucial outlet to release some of the pressure they encounter at home and at school. They place particular value on the arts as a means of maintaining well-being and processing and expressing some of the difficult emotions that they experience as teenagers.

Full report can be found at:


About Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning

Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning believes the arts have the power to transform lives and that people of all ages and backgrounds should have access to world-class music, theatre, dance, visual art, film and spoken word. Since the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama launched their creative learning partnership in 2009, thousands of people including children, young people, teachers, families, artists and communities have participated in their programmes, activities and events. Ranging from those that give people their first taste of the arts through to those that enable existing artists to push the boundaries of their practice, all projects inspire and bring people together giving them new skills and confidence and raising aspirations.


About the Barbican

A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.1 million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery the Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, Associate Producer Serious, and Artistic Partner Create. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue, Cheek by Jowl, Deborah Warner, Drum Works and Michael Clark Company. The Los Angeles Philharmonic are the Barbican’s International Orchestral Partner, the Australian Chamber Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are International Associate Ensemble.

Find us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify


About Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Guildhall School is a vibrant, international community of young musicians, actors and production artists in the heart of the City of London. Ranked as one of the top ten performing arts institutions in the world (QS World University Rankings 2019), and recently awarded top conservatoire in the Complete University Guide Music League Table 2020, the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research, with over 1,000 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. Guildhall School is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and the Centre for Young Musicians, as well as a joint Creative Learning division with the Barbican which seeks to create inspiring arts experiences for all.


About RSC Education

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world. Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.

We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre and through our Education work change the way that children and young people experience Shakespeare at school. Our approach is rooted in a 130 year history of making theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and sharing that wealth of skills and knowledge with teachers and students all over the world.

We build long term relationships with school, teachers and communities and particularly those who have the least access to Shakespeare, the RSC and cultural provision. Each year we reach over 530,000 young people in over 1,200 schools across the UK, inspiring children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and ensuring that Shakespeare is for everyone.

Further information from:



You might also like