What is ACTS?
Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills (ACTS) is an EU-funded education research and development project that is part of the Erasmus+ program and described as ‘a paradigm shift’ in education.
The ACTS project aims to facilitate creative thinking and maximise potential in all students through an integrated approach to curriculum development and implementation, combining the highly-focused, analytic thinking and memory training often involved in formal education with the softer focus, non-verbal experience of interconnections and context that is often found in non-formal and informal learning.
What is ACTS?
The ACTS project aims to facilitate creative thinking and maximise potential in all students through an integrated approach to curriculum development and implementation, combining the highly-focused, analytic thinking and memory training often involved in formal education with the softer focus, non-verbal experience of interconnections and context that is often found in non-formal and informal learning. EU assessors praised the ACTS project as:
- ‘forward looking’ and ‘highly strategic’, based upon a ‘solid analysis with ambitious outputs’
- ‘offering a highly credible, valid, portable alternative with results that would not be possible or desirable if developed by a single country’
- including ‘novel working methods to motivate students’
- ‘All phases of the project have been thoroughly considered and are designed to realise the project’s objectives and deliver robust outcomes’.
There are five strands to the project:
- Curriculum Development to enable and enhance an identified spectrum of Creative Thinking Skills within curricula that supports formal, non-formal and informal learning.
- Qualification Registration onto the National Framework, formally recognising and validating Creative Thinking Skills within an integrated approach to formal, non-formal and informal learning and trans-disciplinarity.
- Book Publication: ‘Creative Thinking Skills’ (author: Elaine Holt) is due for publication in 2019. It will describe the spectrum of Creative Thinking Skills and where they can be found and enhanced in the classroom or workplace.
- Accredited Upper School Teacher Training connected to the qualification is co-operation with Alanus University, Germany. Developed by the partners and provided currently in UK/Finland and Norway/Denmark.
- Conferences, Workshops and Events for on-going Continual Professional Development for teachers and School Governors, explaining the theory and practice of this approach and providing assessor training.
The ACTS project has identified a key spectrum of creative thinking skills that are developed through the integrated approach currently found in Steiner Schools, and articulated these skills in a manner that can be internationally relevant, attainable and assessable.
This curriculum development creatively meets the call from Higher Education and the workplace for improved creativity and innovation to accompany technical expertise. In the longer term, there is also the potential to provide additional personal resources and resilience to young people, through enabling and enhancing the spectrum of Creative Thinking Skills, so that future generations have resilient inner tools to take with them towards an increasingly complex and uncertain future.
The suite of qualifications will be called ‘Integrated Education: Creative Thinking Skills’ and will have, at each of UK National Qualification Framework Levels 2 and 3 (European Qualification Framework Levels 3 and 4), a Certificate which will include a Creative Thinking Skills module and an Independent Project. This certificate can stand alone or form part of the Core Diploma at each level. The core Diploma, in turn, can stand alone or form part of the Extended Diploma. This will make it as relevant and accessible across the widest possible demographic including disadvantaged students. We have developed a marking matrix for the Creative Thinking Skills module which can over-arch any content from which appropriate evidence can be drawn, alongside the independent project component, allowing schools or training courses to trial this approach in a managed way alongside existing provision. This has attracted positive interest in UK and overseas. The other diploma modules for piloting have subject specific learning outcomes but with an emphasis on trans-disciplinary working, personal projects/studies and the incorporation of non-formal and informal learning. There will be no externally set exams, student work will be assessed through submission of portfolios of evidence. These qualifications will meet the need to recognise and validate achievement that is most efficiently gained through an integrated variety of formal, non-formal and informal learning. In an increasingly mobile world, these qualifications and the elements within them will be portable. The awarding body will be Crossfields Institute (UK), an awarding organisation recognised by Ofqual.
The UK regulator, Ofqual, has granted Sector approval (with no preconditions) to Crossfields Institute for ‘Foundations for Learning and Life’, which is the sector that these qualifications would sit in. This would place it onto the register of regulated qualifications in the same sector as the International Baccalaureate. Crossfields Institute (the awarding body) will be responsible for completing due diligence and meeting all the necessary regulatory requirements.
There are five partners working together on this project:
- Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (UK)
- Steinerskoleforbundet (Norway)
- Steinerkasvatuksen liitto (Finland)
- Sammenslutningen af frie Rudolf Steiner skoler i Danmark (Denmark)
- Crossfields Institute (UK) – the awarding body for the qualifications.
ACTS will set out the content and context of the Creative Thinking Skills spectrum as an easily understood and digestible publication suitable for practical use and wider academic dissemination, in the form of a book. The author and project designer, Elaine Holt, has provided the working definitions, interpreted from successful Steiner Waldorf pedagogy, which have become the foundation for the suite of qualifications. It is intended that the book will become available in early 2019.