The CLA is one of the main vehicles through which the cultural learning sector communicates with government. We therefore see it as imperative that we capture what the sector is experiencing at present and what policies it wants to see stop, start or change in response to this experience. With that in mind, we are delighted to announce that we are opening the CLA’s first policy forum.
What areas of policy do we want to hear from members about?
Below we describe four areas of policy on which we would like to hear from members. All of these are areas discussed in previous CLA blogs and briefings and will be familiar to many regular readers. For each area we provide some framing of the issue as it currently looks from a national perspective and the questions we’d like to get your input on.
The CLA wants to make sure every setting and practitioner has the resources they need to deliver a world class arts education to every child.
However, funding for schools has fallen by 9% in real terms since 2010. Funding cuts for youth services have fallen by a staggering 74% in the same time period. The government has stated it will improve school funding, but its proposed uplift will just restore per-pupil school funding to the same level it was in 2010, ignoring the huge increase in demands on school’s budgets in the interleaving period. Improved funding for youth services have yet to manifest.
Similarly, systems of funding through other public bodies, such as Arts Council England, have been reported to place high levels of demand on arts practitioners in requiring extensive application processes.
We’d like to know:
- How is the current system of funding for cultural learning affecting your practice and the beneficiaries of your practice?
- How would you like to see this funding system improved?
We want working in the cultural learning sector to be an attractive, respected and properly remunerated profession with ongoing access to lifelong professional development.
However, we know that the current cultural learning workforce faces many challenges. Pay is failing to keep pace with current high levels of inflation. Many cultural learning practitioners are precarious workers, with few legal protections and at particular risk of losing work and income during the current period of economic challenges.
The situation is slated to get worse. With government policies making it harder for Higher Education providers to offer creative arts degrees and disincentivising enrolment, there will likely be fewer individuals entering the cultural learning workforce as properly trained professionals. The government continues to fail to meet its targets for recruiting Initial Teacher Training students and many creative arts teachers are leaving the profession. The situation is especially acute in the case of Music.
We’d like to know:
- How are workforce issues affecting you and your professional peers? What impact is this having on your students?
- What policies would you like to see start, stop or change in order to fix these various workforce issues?
The CLA has long made the case for the cultural learning sector having the infrastructure necessary to deliver on an ambitious vision for our young people. This includes a ‘backbone’ of organisations that broker partnerships, connections and quality assurance across the sector. It also includes having the right frameworks, systems of oversight and guidance to support high quality cultural learning for all children.
However, there are currently challenges that face the country’s programme of arts education infrastructure. The withdrawal of Bridge network funding from Arts Council England will likely diminish the capacity of these organisations to provide the local infrastructure they have historically provided. The government’s Cultural Education Plan was announced a year ago and has not yet been published.
We’d like to know:
- How your practice or work is affected by changes to cultural learning infrastructure?
- What changes would you like to see to this infrastructure to allow it to provide high quality arts education to your students?
Representation and diversity
The CLA is a social justice organisation that believes that cultural learning should capture and represent the experiences of the global community. This includes voices from historically marginalised groups.
However, we know that the national curriculum continues to fail to promote or reflect diversity in its content. Equally, we know that cultural learning experiences that do reflect this diversity are often only accessible to young people living in large cities or who are from more affluent households. Equally, the current process for individuals to professionalise in cultural learning favours those from relatively advantaged backgrounds - especially those from wealthier families, who live in London or who are non-global majority backgrounds.
We’d like to know:
- How do issues of representation and diversity (or lack thereof) currently affect your work in the cultural learning sector?
- What do you do, or have you seen done, at a local level to improve representation and diversity?
- What, from a government policy perspective, could be done to improve representation and diversity across the cultural learning sector
How to submit your thoughts
If you’d like to make a submission to our policy forum, please complete this short online form here. The form is straightforward and submissions do not need to be researched or follow a particular structure.
What will we do with submissions?
We’ll read and review submissions as part of our ongoing process in the next six months to shape our key policy asks ahead of the next general election. We may get in touch with individuals over particular submissions to discuss further and see how they might be able to help us in collaboratively shaping this advocacy work.