Cultural Learning Alliance

In my opinion culture should be at the heart of the school curriculum so that every child can have the kind of cultural opportunities I was offered early in my education

Kevin Spacey
Artistic Director, Old Vic

News

Three Year Business Plans for the Coalition now published online

Published 16 November 2010
 

Last week all Government departments published their business plans for 2011-2015.

The CLA is particularly interested in what the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Education have planned for the next three years and has undertaken a quick analysis of some of the headlines for cultural learning.

Do let us know if there is anything critical we have missed...

DCMS Business plan:

There are six main strands to the business plan:
  • Deliver the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics,
  • Create the conditions for growth
  • Boost the Big Society,
  • Facilitate the delivery of universal broadband
  • Create a sporting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Strengthen cultural organisations

The DCMS plan starts with a vision statement which includes a reference to children and young people. It includes a line which states:

‘We want everyone to be able to play sport and enjoy their local and our national culture. Passion for the arts and sport is instilled at a young age –which is why we want to give all children the opportunity to learn to play sport and play a musical instrument’

This ambition is clearly linked in the plan to the Big Society agenda.

Whilst the CLA welcomes this recognition of the importance of culture to the lives of young people, we are very aware that this statement is different to pledges that were made earlier this year. As Charlotte Higgins pointed out in her speech at the Paul Hamlyn Awards this week, the original statement read as follows:

‘We will promote three simple aims: that every child in school will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; that every child has the chance learn to sing; that every child is able to receive a solid cultural education’

We urge colleagues working on this agenda to make sure plans are in place to take forward aims two and three.

Of further concern is the lack of concrete targets and actions related to this area of work. There are no identified milestones or activities which relate to the above ambitions for children and young people, though the DCMS do state that they will regularly publish data related to the ‘proportion of adults and children who regularly participate in cultural activities and/or proportion of adults and children satisfied with their last cultural experience’

The business plan also includes a specific target to ‘identify options for relinquishing control and sponsorship of each non-national museum currently funded by DCMS’

The museums affected by this target include: the Design Museum; the Geffrye Museum; the Horniman Museum and Gardens; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Coal Mining Museum for England; the National Football Museum; the People’s History Museum; and Tyne and Wear Museums.

In a response by the Museum’s Association, Iain Watson, Acting Director of Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, said DCMS is currently deciding which body will take responsibility for sponsoring non-national museums beyond 2015.

Many of these organisations deliver excellent cultural learning programmes to children and young people and their families, and the CLA urges those colleagues working to find sponsors for these museums to ensure that this work is nurtured and protected as part of any new funding package.

As we have said before in this blog, we welcome a re-profiling of lottery funds to the arts and culture, but we would like some more information about some of the other lottery related elements of this plan. For example, one of the targets states that DCMS will ‘stop wasteful spending by National Lottery distributors, by banning lobbying activities and reducing administration costs to 5% of total income’. We want to understand more about what this target will mean for our lottery partners.



DfE Business Plan

We are still waiting for the publication of the Education White Paper to give us clarity on the priorities and infrastructure which will be supported by the Coalition Government. Initial indications are that this to be published on the 22nd of November, but it might be pushed back to later in the year or even January. Until that time, this plan does give us some indication as to the broad direction of travel.

The vision statement for the department focuses on academic attainment and performance, and has a strong emphasis on giving schools more autonomy and freedom. It also mentions reform for Ofsted and for Sure Start as well as the introduction of the Pupil Premium. Headlines relating to wider services such as youth, family and youth offending do not appear in this vision.

As expected, Free schools and Academies feature very strongly in the plan, alongside the revision of guidance relating to planning constraints and schools capital building. The CLA strongly urges colleagues involved in this revision to ensure that the previous emphasis and conditions relating to cultural provision and facilities are included and built upon when the new capital programme is announced. It is essential that all children and young people have access to inspiring and fit-for-purpose cultural facilities and resources - something we highlighted in our submission earlier this year to the Schools Capital Review Panel.

The Business Plan states that the National Curriculum will be reformed between Dec 2010 and March 2012, with the new regime coming into force in September of 2012. The CLA will be working hard to ensure that we feed the thoughts and priorities of our signatories into this process wherever possible.

By April next year we will expect to see plans for new and improved apprenticeships and the CLA looks forward to seeing how these will support young people to gain careers and experience in the creative and cultural sectors.

Plans are in place to reform and change inspection and monitoring for both schools and for children’s services. Cultural organisations have historically worked with both school self-evaluation frameworks and local authority local area agreements to demonstrate the impact that they make on the lives of children and young people. Now that these mechanisms are being phased out, the cultural learning sector will have to shift language and arguments to continue to make the case for the value of cultural learning. The CLA will ensure that we work with our partners to make any new tools and targets as transparent as possible, and we urge colleagues involved in this reform to ensure that priorities related to cultural learning are included within the new system.

Other business plans which impact on cultural learning include:

Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) which includes targets related to building an internationally competitive skills base and supporting universities, science and research to build a strong, innovative economy.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which includes, as expected, an emphasis on localism, on removing all ring-fencing of budgets (except direct grants to schools and public health), and reducing arms-length bodies. We know that this department has a huge impact on the world of cultural learning as many organisations receive support and funding from a range of existing local authority cultural and children’s service commissioning pots. As ring-fencing is removed it will be essential that provision is made to continue funding these valuable grass-roots activities (more in our recent CSR post).

Comments

It is essential that children and young people have access to facilities in which creativity can flourish and teachers who are creative, what ever their subject area.
Adam Clarke 16 November 2010

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