How creativity can be used to support children with special educational needs

During the Why Creativity Matters NOW conversations during the Learn Sheffield Autumn Online Festival, Amy Willoughby welcomed Claire Lount from Seven Hills Special School, Visual Artist  Beatrice Lee Knowles, Alice Mount from Rowan Primary and Community Musician Matthew Laurie to hear real-life examples of how creativity is used to support children with SEND in their school settings. 

Seven Hills Secondary School

Seven Hills Secondary School offers education for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities and specific learning disabilities.

Beatrice and Claire listed the following ways creativity can support their children with SEN;

  • Creativity gives the students the opportunity to find their uniqueness whilst having the freedom to express themselves in a variety of ways. 
  • Creativity subjects offer multi-sensory experiences that children can immerse themselves in and be stimulated from, whilst developing their skills (that may otherwise go unnoticed).
  • Creativity has no right or wrong and cannot be measured, so it is liberating for students, teachers and artists alike. 

Claire and Bea discussed their Art Day, where they used a Transient Art methodology, allowing the children to explore their imaginations, interests and curiosities without the added pressure of creating a finished product or specific outcome. Claire and Bea recognised how proud that they were able to embrace this way of working with the children, which could be quite daunting for a teacher to lead a class without a more rigid framework in place. This methodology paid off, offering the students a multi-sensory experience, using interesting materials and the freedom to explore their own creativity. 

Rowan Primary School 

Alice is a Class Teacher at the Rowan School and has been working with Matt who specialises in Intensive Interaction and person-centered communication approaches in special schools. Rowan Primary school is a school for children with severe and complex communication difficulties, most of whom have a diagnosis of autism. The children generally struggle with engagement, interaction and functioning as part of a group. 

Matthew worked with teachers at Rowan Primary, offering training and support which built the skills and confidence to run ‘ukulele jams’ in their classrooms. The classes were very flexible, set up to encourage all children and staff to get involved. Children would often sing, tap, move, bang drums or draw to the music. This flexible approach meant that all children could be celebrated for their unique contribution and there was no way they could necessarily ‘fail’ at the task. Matthew also offered and encouraged regular debrief sessions which encouraged a deeper understanding of the work and so that the teachers could learn from each other's experiences. 

This session is well worth watching in full, you can access the recording here

About Create Sheffield 

Create Sheffield is Sheffield’s Cultural Education Partnership, it exists to take the young people of Sheffield on ‘a journey into the arts, culture and heritage sectors, benefiting the lives of all those in Sheffield aged 0-24. Create Sheffield is supported byIVE, the Arts Council Bridge Organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber and also has received support from other organisations in Sheffield.  


Create Sheffield ask everyone who has attended one of the sessions or watched the replay to fill in a ‘Getting to Know You’ form to help us gather your thoughts and needs, in order to inform Create Sheffield’s Cultural and Creative Education Strategy that will be implemented from january 2022.

In return for filling in the form, you will:

  • Have the opportunity to shape future CPD sessions to suit your needs and interests
  • Have access to CPD opportunities
  • Shape opportunities for further networking
  • Have the option to join and create networks and sessions that support your learning
  • Have the opportunity to share & shout about creative and cultural learning projects 
  • Have your voice heard!

Participant (education) Getting to Know You form

Participant (Arts & Cultural Partners) Getting to Know You form.