Implementing anti-racism and being an effective ally: representation in the arts curriculum work June 2020 to July 2021

14 July 2021

Over the past year colleagues across all of the art subjects have been working to review and change representation in the arts curriculums they deliver or support. This blog summarises the activity to date by subject and signposts ongoing activity you may find useful.

As many of you know, in summer 2020 the CLA set up a task and finish group looking at decolonising the curriculum. A series of subject roundtables hosted by the Subject Specialist Associations grew out of this group as well as commitments from the CLA to support and platform work already taking place.

Art & Design

NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design), the subject specialist association for Art, Craft and Design, is leading the work and hosted an anti-racism conference in early May.

Their Anti-Racist Arts Education Action Group have published very helpful Anti-Racist Arts Education (ARAE) curriculum, publication, and school resource checklists. They can be used to support discussion about your art and design curriculum across all levels and settings. There are also links to further resources on their website.


One Dance UK, the subject association for dance, has been hosting the Dance representation in the curriculum roundtable, made up of more than 30 people representing small to large organisations, teachers, artists and institutions.

The group is compiling a set of free resources, including:

  • A list of works by global majority artists and teaching resources
  • A list of dance companies
  • Workshops for students and CPD for teachers
  • A music list

These will be available on the One Dance UK website.

Established programmes and companies that aren’t represented on the roundtable are still part of the discussion and work. Conservatoires are reviewing representation in their staff, teaching practices, course content and student experiences.

Pearson Edexcel exam board has committed to increasing representation of practitioners and works in their BTEC. AQA is putting together a diversity and inclusion panel and working to be ready to implement changes at the next reform point. Independent dance schools such as IDTA have implemented a review of courses, content and staff.


Led by mezze eade and Romana Flello – who is based at the Royal Court Theatre and supported by The London Theatre Consortium (LTC) Creative Learning group – drama colleagues have been campaigning for changes to the set texts for GCSE and A Level drama to be more representative and inclusive.

As a result of their work Pearson Edexcel exam board is adding four plays to their GCSE Set Text List, available for teaching from September 2021. The WJEC exam board is adding optional texts to their GCSE specification in 2021, and A level specification in 2022. The AQA Drama diversity and inclusion panel is working to be ready to implement changes at the next reform point. Conversations with OCR are continuing.

The London Theatre Consortium (LTC) Creative Learning group has created filmed resources, and will create written resources for the four plays added to the Pearson GCSE Set Text List.

Additionally RinD, run by mezze and Romana, is delivering anti-racism sessions for trainee teachers, drama teachers, facilitators and university lecturers. There is a clear need and commitment from teachers and some academics. The Bridge organisations are supporting them to reach networks across England. To find out more about these session email:


Nate Holder International Chair in Music Education at Royal Northern College of Music, Roz De Vile CEO of Music Masters, Researcher and Advisor Samantha Spence, and Karina Maynard a curator, educator and producer, are looking at how they can bring together their own work and that of various organisations to support teachers and music hubs. They have also connected with AQA to join the Music diversity and inclusion panel.

Music Masters has developed an Anti-Racist Framework for music organisations – I’M IN – which will relaunch in the summer.

There is continuing debate about the new Model Music Curriculum, questioning the fact it is non-statutory; what is omitted; who has or hasn’t fed into it; the language used in it (Nate Holder made some good points on this on Twitter); and how to get schools to understand what to do with it if there are no specialists in their school.

Take action

If you would like to support the work of any of the subject groups do get in touch and we can pass your details on. All of the groups would be particularly interested to hear from colleagues from the global majority – those with lived experience of oppression and discrimination due to structural, systemic and personal racism.