The Arts and Creativity Have Never Been So Important

This term we are celebrating the award of Platinum Arts Mark for our work promoting the arts and engaging boys in art, music, drama and creativity more generally. In Bolton there are some 30 schools registered for the scheme and working towards an award and amongst the primary schools there is one platinum, 2 gold and three silver awards. It is encouraging there is so much interest locally (that is more or less one in three of the Bolton Primary schools) at a time when nationally we hear that the arts in schools are being squeezed. That may be especially so in senior schools, with the congestion of external exams and many performance measures. Yet, the arts and creativity have arguably never been more important.

Bolton has a long tradition in this regard: from Bolton School we have Sir Ian McKellen and Ralf Little as household names amongst our alumni, but also we have film producers, script writers, film editors and much else besides. Across Bolton there are many other notable figures who have made a career in the arts. The Octagon is a renowned local theatre, with great plans for the future as well. Bolton Music Service is strong, innovative and thriving. And Bolton sits just north of Manchester, which is rapidly growing to be a cultural capital for the north. We have firm foundations on which to build. In schools we must do all we can to make room for art, music and drama, both inside the classroom and perhaps even more important beyond. They promote innovation, team work, the good habit of the need to prepare and train and commit to a performance. They also take time to get right û there is room for delayed gratification in creating a good piece of art or great performance and this is a life skill as well. They also promote Mental Health with the pleasure and engagement with the arts being very often a part of maintaining a balanced and healthy approach to life. We can enjoy good art, music and drama and they can make us happy. That is something worth treasuring for our mental health. Finally, creativity is almost certainly a uniquely human trait. Where manual jobs were removed by hydraulics, the scene is set for many other roles to be removed by Artificial Intelligence. And after that, the thing we can do that machines cannot will be to create, to have empathy, to have emotional connection û and all of those are promoted by the arts.

About Philip Britton

Philip Britton is the Head of Foundation of Bolton School. He was brought up on Tyneside, took a first in physics at Oxford and did teacher training at Cambridge. He worked as physics teacher, Head of Physics and Deputy Head at Leeds Grammar School before moving to Bolton in 2008. In 2010 he was awarded an MBE for services to physics and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics where he has been much involved in physics education, encouraging teachers to encourage the next generation of physicists. Follow at X: @Philip_Britton | View X/Twitter archive | Listen at: Exploring Bolton School | Social Mobility, Leadership & Future School Thinking | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton