Pushing boundaries at Polegate School

The practitioner Isobel Smith pushed her own creative boundaries to create imaginative environments in which children and staff could play in an open-ended, exploratory way. This greatly assisted the creative transformation of the school giving teachers and children the confidence to realise highly creative ideas.

Who was involved

  • Pupils and teachers from Reception to Y6 from Polegate School, East Sussex
  • Creative practitioner: Isobel Smith, puppeteer


How can we push boundaries at Polegate School to embed creativity at the heart of teaching and learning?


  • To open up creativity beyond limitations
  • To improve enjoyment in pupils and staff
  • To improve pupils’ literacy


Staff learnt to trust Isobel’s open-ended, risk-taking approach; this allowed them to explore creativity and take risks in their teaching. Children learnt to articulate their thoughts and give their imaginary worlds form and expression. The practitioner learnt to trust her creative instincts within a school context.

Parents and families participated in school events, and children reported sharing learning at home. Staff and children’s 2011 Congress Theatre show ‘The Time of Our Lives’ demonstrated creative confidence and exuberance.

Attainment levels in reading and writing have risen.

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You don’t have to be perfect. It’s just what you make up can be what’s there. Say you done a mistake you don’t have to rub it out you can just make it into something.

Y5 pupil

Issy’s been so sympathetic to teachers and so clever about how she does so. The teachers became so open to it.

Deputy Headteacher

We had planned to work in a certain way and it had to change because it changed through the process. They did the most fantastic drawings of how it was going to look. Because they really took charge of the process and owned it they were able to let it change and develop.

Creative Practitioner