Policy and Practice Round-up

29 January 2015

New Arts GCSE and A Level content and assessment announced

On Monday the Department for Education and Ofqual published the content and assessment criteria for reformed GCSEs in Art & Design, Dance and Music, and A Levels in Dance and Music, that will be taught from 2016. Drama GCSE and A Level information will be published in February 2015.

Disappointingly, exams will now make up 40% of assessment for Dance and Music at GCSE as opposed to the previous 20%. Under the new definition an exam is an assessment which is completed by all students at the same time on the same day.

Assessed performances in Dance, Drama or Music will not count towards this 40% as they cannot all take place at the same time. Art & Design GCSE remains 100% non-exam.

At A Level, exam based assessment has risen by 5% to 50% for Dance. In music exams now comprise 70% of assessment, a rise of 15 to 30% depending on the exam board.

It is worth noting that in the press release Nicky Morgan spoke warmly of the value of arts subjects. ‘Today we are sending a clear message that arts education can be every bit as rigorous as the rest of the school curriculum. These subjects can lead to creative and rewarding careers in everything from engineering and design to our emerging digital industries.’

Design and Technology GCSE delay

On 16 January Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, announced that first teaching of the Design and Technology GCSE will be delayed from 2016 to 2017. As many of you will be aware, D&T GCSE entries have been falling dramatically, with a 26% decline in entries since 2010 (287,701 entries in 2010 compared to 213,629 in 2014).

Colleagues, including David Baker in the TES, have highlighted their concern that the subject is in continuing danger and are worried that the delay to the first teaching of the new subject will further undermine its provision in schools.

£109 million for 2015-2016 arts and heritage programmes announced

On Monday Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary and Sajid Javid, Culture Secretary announced £109m further funding for arts and heritage cultural education programmes.

The funding will cover the delivery of a range of existing programmes for an additional year up to 2016. The programmes are:

  • In Harmony
  • National Youth Music Organisations
  • BFI Film Academy
  • Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Clubs,
  • National Youth Dance Company
  • Museums and Schools Programme
  • Heritage Schools Programme
  • Bridge Organisations

Music Hub funding for 2015-2016 was announced in July last year.

We look forward to reading the detail when it is published on the allocation of funding to individual projects within this basket of activity.

Step by step: arts policy and young people 1944-2014

This is a very interesting read which charts arts education policy and asks the important question: why we do not focus more on early years and families?

Reports such as Allen’s 2011 Early Intervention: The Next Steps show that the years 0 to 5 are incredibly important and provide the foundation for future wellbeing and success. If this is true, then should we as a sector be focusing more on how very young children benefit from the arts, and the quality of their experiences, to build a culture of participation? The work of Earlyarts is very important here and we highly recommend their resources.

Initial Teacher Training bursaries

Further to the increase in ITT places for arts teachers announced in October, we have been delving into the incentives in place for students to take up the places. Colleagues in ITT tell us that funding of places and bursaries have a large impact on whether places are filled.

We are pleased to see the amount for the Design & Technology trainees’ bursary has risen for 2015/2016, and that eligibility for music has increased.

In music, if the trainee has a Masters, 2:1 or 2:2 degree these attract a £4,000 bursary. A first-class degree attracts £9,000.

In D&T a first attracts £12,000, a 2:1 or a Masters £9,000 and a 2:2 £4,000.

We would of course like to see bursaries extended to all arts subjects to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of qualified specialist teachers, and essential requirement for high quality arts teaching in schools.

Soft skills yet again highlighted as vital for employment

Another report published in January has continued to highlight the need for soft skills for employability. McDonalds is leading a partnership of companies calling for better soft skills and has commissioned research showing that soft skills are worth £88bn to the UK economy.

Neil Carberry, the CBI's director for employment and skills, said: ‘Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people – such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity – is just as important as academic or technical skills.’

The report also said that people without these soft skills will be ‘significantly held back’ in job opportunities. You can download the research and contribute to a consultation on ways to improve soft skills here.

As we know Arts subjects are very good at teaching soft skills, something it may be worth remind ourselves of frequently, and the parents we work with.

Creative Industries worth £76.9bn a year to the UK economy

New figures published last week by DCMS reveal that the UK’s Creative Industries, which includes the design, film, television and music industries, are now worth £76.9bn per year to the UK economy (up from £71bn in 2012) and growth is almost 10% a year. 1.71m people are employed in the Creative Industries, which is 5.6% of total jobs in the UK.

For more details see the full press release on the DCMS website.