Last Updated: Monday, December 21, 2020

Creativity and Learning: what is the connection?

What is this?

​This thought piece by Paul Collard, Chief Executive of Creativity, Culture and Education, argues that the positive impact creative learning has on the learning and attainment of children and young people is because it develops the executive functions of the brain. The piece explores why this might be the case, why there is so much interest in creativity skills around the world, what we mean by creativity skills, and the characteristics of which learning environments have the most impact on developing them.

The thought piece will allow practitioners at all levels to make the connections between creative learning and attainment, and empower them to develop learning through the arts that can be spread across the curriculum and throughout the school experience.

Who is this for?

​All educators across all sectors.

​About this research

How was the research carried out?

This thought piece is an exploration of the connection between creativity and learning. The piece has been written by Paul Collard, drawing on his experience and a range of international academic and action research.
Paul Collard has extensive international experience in developing and researching creative learning in schools and other learning contexts and brings this breadth of knowledge and evidence to the ongoing discussion.

What are the strengths of the research methodology?

This is a thought piece, as such it presents a viewpoint informed by experience, knowledge and research. It is intended to provide thought-provoking and challenging content to support practitioners to reflect on their practice.

What is the context for this research?

A number of key documents and policies have identified the value of creative learning in Scottish Education, including Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan, the Creativity Across Learning Curriculum Impact Report and How Good Is Our School 4. This recognition leads to questions around how creative learning leads to increased engagement, attainment and achievement, as research suggests.

Reflective questions

  • Where in your own practice could you embed creative learning to develop learners’ executive functions and creativity skills?
  • What changes to your learning environment could be made to promote/support the development of creativity skills?
  • Do the executive functions begin to make sense of your own experiences of learners who have needed additional support?
  • Could you use the self-evaluation tools for planning and evaluating creativity to explore impact and where improvements could be made?

About the author(s)

Paul Collard is the Chief Executive of Creativity, Culture and Education, The International Foundation for Creative Learning.

Related research / reading

Planning for and evaluating creativity

Creativity Infographics

Scotland’s Creative Learning Plan

Creativity 3-18 curriculum review (impact report)


The views and recommendations within the thought piece are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Education Scotland.

Link to full research article

PDF file: Creativity and learning: what is the connection? (857 KB)