News from Westminster

27 February 2014

February saw debates in parliament on 12 and 13 February on Cultural Learning, the announcement of a review of Discount Codes, cross-party support for STEAM and £750 million (yes you read that right) for Primary School Sports funding.

Discount Codes

On 12 February, in response to a written question from the Earl of Clancarty on discount codes, Lord Nash announced the government was ‘reviewing how the discount codes for dance and drama work’ – read the text of the debate here, including a discussion later on the same day about the pipeline in to the creative industries.

As regular readers know, discount codes are a disincentive at work for Arts subjects at GCSE. Read more about the codes here. This review is really good news and something the CLA has been calling for.

On 13 February Ed Vaizey followed up the announcement of the Discount Codes review during a debate in Westminster Hall with the following statement:

“The Government recognise the differences between artistic disciplines, and it is important to get it across that decisions on discount codes are made on the basis of a detailed scrutiny of the exam specifications, rather than on a general view of the subjects concerned. Where substantial overlap between two specifications exists, the subjects will be discounted. Those decisions can be reviewed and are being reviewed in the case of drama and dance.”

The 13 February debate was actually to discuss the recommendations in the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report Supporting the Creative Economy. The CLA was particularly interested in the debate as one of the recommendations of the report was changing STEM to STEAM – adding the A of Arts to the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Read the full text of the debate here.

STEAM has cross-party support

STEAM now has cross-party support. In January’s policy and practice round-up we reported on Maria Miller’s STET speech at the British Library where she said:

Culture and creativity play a central role in any well-rounded child’s education and rather than shying away from that - we should talk about it, promote it and emphasise the importance of STEAM.”

In his Schooling for the Future speech on 12 February 2014, the Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said:

“… the emergence of the STEAM agenda … recognises the economic importance of the arts in education as well as science, technology, engineering and maths”.

Read the full speech here.

£750 million funding for Primary School sport – Dance case studies

On 6 February an additional £750 million funding was announced for Primary School Sport. To put that into context Music hubs receive £171 million and £15 million of programme funding was announced with the Henley review of Cultural Education. We would like to see a similar commitment to Arts in schools.

Alongside the funding the Department for Education published regional case studies, which included Dance examples.

Youth Dance England has also created some useful guidance for schools on using the PE and Sport Premium for Dance.

Arts pushed out of school curriculums?

In other news from Westminster, Michael Gove has been talking about schools implementing a longer school day. On 3 February Gove called for schools to offer more extra-curricular activities like 'orchestras, choir and drama.' This was raised by Conservative MPs in the 13 February Creative Economy debate as a solution for giving better access to Arts subjects.

We are very concerned that offering Arts subjects as extra-curricular activities could become a replacement for offering them as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Read more about what we feel the current issues surrounding Arts education in England’s schools in our February Cultural Education Briefing.