About the Durham Commission

The Durham Commission is a joint research collaboration between Durham University and Arts Council England, to look at the role creativity and creative thinking should play in the education of young people.

Established in 2017, the Commission has developed a vision for promoting teaching for creativity in education for all young people, whatever their background. Its first report was published in October 2019.

Advocating for a creative curriculum

Teaching for creativity, the Commission suggests, should be practised across the curriculum and accessed by all. It should not be confined to certain subjects; creativity in science is different to creativity in drama, but is valuable in both. Through engaging in opportunities for creative learning, grounded in subject-knowledge and understanding, students’ creative capacity will be nurtured, and their personal, social and academic development greatly enriched.

How we understand creativity

As part of its work the Commission developed three important definitions which you can find below.

Creativity: The capacity to imagine, conceive, express, or make something that was not there before.

Creative thinking: A process through which knowledge, intuition and skills are applied to imagine, express or make something novel or individual in its contexts. Creative thinking is present in all areas of life. It may appear spontaneous, but it can be underpinned by perseverance, experimentation, critical thinking and collaboration.

Teaching for creativity: Explicitly using pedagogies and practices that cultivate creativity in young people.

You can read the first report and its ten recommendations here.

Read the first Durham Commission Report


Our refreshed vision for a creative education

Considering the pandemic, we’ve reflected on the aims of the Commission and asked ourselves what learnings are still right to take forward, or perhaps need to be taken forward with even more urgency.

Therefore, in April 2021, we published a new report, with a refreshed outlook looking forward to the next three to five years and asking what children and young people will need and how we can best equip them to manage their futures.

The Commission will continue to build on its original foundation but sharpen its focus to work on six of the original ten recommendations, which address the most pressing needs.

Read the Durham Commission Second Report

Find out more about our refreshed vision in our blog


You can also download the Durham Commission Literature Review, which using the findings of studies published between March and November 2020, explores the impact of Covid-19 on the English education teaching and learning environment and the potential impact on teaching for creativity.

Find out more