Creative Teachers in Primary Schools

Creative Teachers in Primary Schools

Creative Teachers in Primary Schools

Creative Teachers in Primary Schools


Is creative teaching still possible in English schools? Can teachers maintain and promote their own interests and beliefs as well as deliver a prescribed National Curriculum?

This book explores creative teachers' attempts to pursue their brand of teaching despite the changes. Peter Woods has discovered a range of strategies and adaptations to this end among such teachers, including resisting change which runs counter to their own values; appropriating the National Curriculum within their own ethos; enhancing their role through the use of others; and enriching their work through the National Curriculum to provide quality learning experiences. If all else fails, such teachers remove themselves from the system and take their creativity elsewhere. A strong theme of self-determination runs through these experiences.

While acknowledging hard realities, the book is ultimately optimistic, and a tribute to the dedication and inspiration of primary teachers.

The book makes an important contribution to educational theory, showing a range of responses to intensification as well as providing many detailed examples of collaborative research methods.


This book is the product of the third phase of my research in the broad area of 'creative teaching'. During many years of observing teachers at work, I have been aware of a special quality which seems to pervade their best work, to inspire teaching and learning, to maximize learning opportunities, and to cope with difficulties. It enables them to devise 'coping' and 'survival strategies', to adapt to the curriculum, and to manage the conflict in the teacher role. In the first phase, my research in primary schools impressed upon me the extent to which a particular quality informs the actual pedagogy of primary school teachers. I characterized the quality as 'creative teaching'. Its nature, manifestations, effectiveness and attendant conditions were considered in Woods (1990a).

This led me, in the second phase, to consider critical cases of this kind of work. This involved researching a number of outstanding events in primary schools. Analysis of these led to the concept of the 'critical event' (Woods, 1993a). In contrast to routine processes and gradual cumulation of learning, critical events bring radical change in both pupils and teachers. The conditions favourable to their development include a supportive school ethos, certain resources such as time and finance, and critical agents. They also require some flexibility within the curriculum and scope within teachers' working conditions, and I speculated on the chances of critical events and other forms of creative teaching continuing in the National Curriculum, instituted in 1988. I concluded that, at that time, the National Curriculum appeared to be a mixture of opportunity and constraint in that respect.

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