The 2016 Creative Education Conference

CEC 2016

Thank you to all who attended the 2016 Creative Education Conference.

Recognising the importance of all creative curriculum subjects, the 2016 Creative Education Conference returned for its fourth consecutive year, taking place at The Institute of Education in London on Tuesday 12 April 2016. The event brought together leaders from schools, colleges, universities and industry to:

  • hear the latest expert thinking concerning new GCSE and A-level developments
  • directly inform the design of creative subject qualifications and curricula
  • inspire innovation and forge links with other schools and colleges, HE and industry.


Watch the video of the Creative Education Conference 2016

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Video transcript

Keynote speakers

Joanna Mackie, Deputy Director Curriculum Division, Department for Education

Joanna Mackie is Deputy Director at the Department for Education with responsibility for policy on the national curriculum and on individual curriculum subjects. Her remit includes music, art and design, design and technology, cultural education, history, geography, languages, English, mathematics, religious education and science. She has worked at the Department for Education for over a decade, and has previously worked on a range of education and children's services policy areas including school leadership, London Challenge and social work.

Janet Holloway, Associate Director of Standards for Design, Development and Evaluation of General Qualifications, Ofqual

Janet HollowayPresentation

Janet leads the implementation delivery of reform strategies for GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications and assessments. Janet taught chemistry and other sciences in comprehensive schools and colleges in England and abroad before joining one of AQA's predecessor organisations, the North West Regional Examinations Board offering CSE examinations. She has had several senior roles managing the development of new qualifications and their delivery to schools or colleges. Her most recent post before joining Ofqual five years ago involved overarching responsibility for the majority of AQA's qualifications including GCSE, GCE, Diploma, Functional Skills and the AQA Baccalaureate.

Tom Sherrington, Head Teacher, Highbury Grove School, Islington

Tom SherringtonPresentation

Tom is Head Teacher of Highbury Grove School in London. Tom's interest in exploring contemporary ideas in teaching and learning and school leadership has led him to become a regular contributor to  conferences and CPD sessions locally and nationally. Tom also writes a popular blog,, the tagline for which is 'zest for learning… into the rainforest of teaching and school leadership'. Tom is a member of the Headteachers' Roundtable and is a founding Trustee of the National Baccalaureate Trust.

Margaret Farragher, Head of Policy and Qualifications, UCAS

Margaret FarragherPresentation

Margaret is Head of Policy and Qualifications at UCAS and is leading the New Qualification Information Service (NQIS) which includes the new UCAS Tariff. She joined UCAS in September 2013, from KPMG. Margaret started her career at Westminster Careers Service. She then joined the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority in 1996, which later became the Qualifications Curriculum Authority and Qualifications Curriculum Development Agency.

During this period, Margaret held a number of qualification and national curriculum reform programme roles supporting a range of new policy initiatives such as Curriculum 2000. As Head of Diploma Support, Margaret was involved in an extensive programme of guidance and support to schools, colleges and Local Authorities on 14-19 qualifications.

Margaret has also served as the Chair of the charity Futureversity, based in Tower Hamlets, which provides support to young people aged 11-25 aimed at developing skills and raising their aspirations. She has been a Local Authority Governor of two London secondary schools and is currently a Governor at All Saints' Academy in Cheltenham. Margaret has also served on the Education Committee of an awarding organisation responsible for delivering ESOL qualifications.

Alex Scharaschkin, Director of the Centre for Education Research and Practice, AQA

Aleks ScharaschkinAlex became Director of the Centre for Education Research and Practice (CERP) in 2014, having been a member of CERP's advisory group for four years. He was previously Director for Regulation, Consumers and Competition at the National Audit Office (NAO) in London, where he led the NAO's work examining the Government's use of markets in the private and public sectors. Alex has a background in assessment research: he was Principal Officer for Statistical Analysis at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, and held research posts at the Associated Examining Board and at London University's Institute of Education.

Policy Groups

This year's afternoon Policy Group workshop sessions covered the following topics:

Group 1: Recognising and assessing creativity and 'hard to assess' skills
What does evidence of creativity look like and what are the best ways to elicit and evaluate this evidence? We will also consider how to assess the creative process as well as its products, plus how to assess individuals if they are part of a group. Chaired by Dr Ayesha Ahmed, University of Cambridge.

Group 2: Full STEAM ahead – is an Arts plus STEM curriculum the best way to prepare students for the 21st century workplace?
What is the value of a STEAM approach for students? What does a STEAM curriculum look like? We'll look at the evidence base, plus examples of STEAM in action, and discuss ways forward. Chaired by Sam Cairns, Cultural Learning Alliance.

Group 3: Grading systems and creative subjects
What will changes to the GCSE grading system and the introduction of reference testing mean for creative subjects? Chaired by Alex Scharaschkin, Director of the Centre for Education Research and Practice, AQA.

Group 4: Equalities and representation and curricula
How are the contributions of women, BAME, LGBT, people with disabilities, and differing religious beliefs – represented in creative subjects? What are the barriers, and how can we encourage participation through representation? Chaired by Kelly Smith, AQA Policy an Public Affairs Manager.

Policy Group speakers

Dr Ayesha Ahmed, Research and Teaching Associate, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Ayesha AhmedPresentation

Dr Ayesha Ahmed is a Research and Teaching Associate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. She has worked in educational assessment since 1997, the first nine years of which was at Cambridge Assessment. Following this she was a freelance research consultant, carrying out projects for exam boards and Ofqual, including training question writers in the UK and internationally. For the past three years she has been working at the University researching the assessment of spoken language and collaborative group work. She teaches on the Education Tripos and on the Masters PPD course in assessment. She is a Fellow of the Association for Educational Assessment Europe, an Executive Editor of the journal Assessment in Education: principles, policy and practice, and a Senior Member of Hughes Hall, Cambridge.

Sam Cairns, Co-Director, Cultural Learning Alliance

Sam CairnsPresentation []

Sam Cairns has worked in the culture sector for 15 years – starting in museum education and expanding into libraries, archives and then the arts. She worked for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, and in education roles at Imperial War Museums and the Wellcome Trust. Sam has managed the Cultural Learning Alliance with Lizzie Crump since 2011. She led the development of the Cultural Learning Alliance Case for Cultural Learning: Key Research Findings, and the consultation report on Arts GCSEs published in 2014. Sam has responsibility for the CLA STEAM activity

Kelly Smith, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, AQA

Kelly SmithPresentation

Kelly Smith joined AQA in March 2014. As Policy and Public Affairs Manager, she uses AQA's research and expertise to develop meaningful contributions to education policy debate. Kelly leads on AQA's Policy and Public Affairs work including managing stakeholder relationships, organising and developing content for AQA events, preparing speeches and briefings for senior AQA staff, and writing and developing policy guidance for stakeholders and customers.

Kelly previously worked as a Sixth Form Guidance Manager in Durham, providing personalised support and academic intervention to 16-19 year olds. She was also Regional Manager for a national reform campaign, and worked as a campaign intern during the 2010 general election. She has an MA in European Studies and International Relations from Maastricht University.

Conference tweets


@AQA tweeted throughout the day. Please feel free to tweet from both your personal and organisation's accounts to join the conversation about the Creative Education Conference. Please use the hashtag #AQACEC16 for all tweets related to the Creative Education Conference.

If you would like further information,  email our Creative Education Conference team at