Arts and the EBacc: CLA response to NSN report

08 February 2017

The Cultural Learning Alliance welcomes Toby and Ed’s contribution to the wide-ranging national debate and analysis of the impact and purpose of the English Baccalaureate.

It is good to see both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Education actively engaged in this debate, and thinking deeply and seriously about the value of arts and culture to children and young people’s lives. We particularly welcome the joint statement that ‘Government strongly believes that the arts and culture should be for everyone and not just a privileged few. They are hugely valuable in and of themselves, and they have the potential to be forces for openness and social mobility’.

In the coming months it would be good to see government working on the development of policies that reflect this commitment, such as a shift from STEM to STEAM, and the inclusion of a creative industries education strand in the emerging Industrial Strategy.

As Ed and Toby's report points out, we have seen a dramatic drop in the numbers of arts teachers, and the number of hours that arts subjects are taught in recent years, and we agree that reversing this trend should be the shared goal of the government and the sector. Arts subjects need to be seen alongside languages, science and maths as playing a central role in children's attainment and personal development. It is critical that all subjects are given equal weight and importance by government, that they all have rigorous curricula, are taught by qualified specialists and include a mix of practical and theoretical, vocational and academic learning.

There are many different ways for statistics to be interpreted, and findings differ according to the subjects that are included in the data-set and the baselines that are used.  The CLA’s findings and methodology are all available on its website. Whilst the CLA disagrees with some of Toby and Ed’s interpretation of the statistics, it does strongly agree on the importance of arts education. We also agree that a broad and balanced education leads to the best outcome for every child.

We look forward to seeing the results of January 2016’s Department of Education official consultation on the government’s plans to expand the English Baccalaureate, and the full summary of the range of evidence and opinion that was submitted. We also look forward to hearing more about how the New Schools Network plans to support and enable the arts and cultural sectors to engage with the free-school programme.


ImagineNation: the value of cultural learning

On 24 January the CLA published ImagineNation: the value of cultural learning, which sets out the four values of cultural learning: social, educational, economic, and personal. It presents a refreshed and comprehensive case for the place of arts education within and beyond our education system. 

Here is the evidence and Key Research Findings which underpin it.

DfE Consultation

In November 2015 the Department for Education launched a consultation on its plans for the English Baccalaureate. The consultation closed on 29 January but the Department has not yet published the results, citing the volume of submitted evidence as the reason for the delay.

Here is the CLA’s submission to the English Baccalaureate consultation.