Policy and Practice Round-up

19 January 2011

As we bounce into the new year we bring you news of: the School’s Commissioner; the English Baccalaureate; the rebirth of Artsmatrix; findings from Find Your Talent, including some brilliant projects; and a last minute reminder for organisations applying for Arts Council funding.

Dr Elizabeth Siddwell has been appointed as England’s School’s Commissioner. She is a former head teacher and is currently the Chief Executive of three London Academies. Her role will involve driving through some of Michael Gove’s new educational reforms; engaging with schools, local authorities and potential sponsors so that more academies replace schools that are underperforming.In the Department’s press release the Secretary of State said ‘It will be her job to chivvy local authorities to make sure they have a programme in place for turning around underperforming schools, work with academy sponsors to identify those schools that become academies and she will also work with free school promoters and others who believe that they can make a difference in those areas.’Last month we reported on the twinkle in Michael Gove’s eye that was the English Baccalaureate; this month schools have been ranked according to their performance against it. English Literature, Art, Drama and Music are currently not counted within the ‘five pillars’ of the Baccalaureate, and although the Secretary of State has been heard to say that ‘he may reconsider the status of some subjects’, his comments on this week’s Question Time lead us to believe that he is not yet talking about the arts and culture. At around 48 minutes in he states that art and music should be ‘complementary’ to the core subjects. Over the coming months we will be lobbying the Coalition to ensure that the arts and culture continue to be valued for their rigour and depth within the curriculum.ArtsMatrix, the Southwest Skills Agency for the Creative Industries, has been re-launched and we are particularly excited to see that it is being hosted by Plymouth College of Art. ArtsMatrix offers creative businesses and practitioners the opportunity to reflect on their practice and develop their artistic and business skills. A wide range of support services and projects are available for members throughout the South West, all of which are tailored to meet the needs of the creative industries. You can read more on their shiny new website.Ideas and recommendations emerging from the ‘Find Your Talent’ programme have now been published by Culture, Creativity and Education (CCE). This document pulls together thoughts from the Directors of the 10 regional pilot programmes and shows how the lessons learnt can leave a lasting legacy. The Find Your Talent website has also recently uploaded details of some of the fantastic work that took place across the country. You can read about inspiring projects in Bolton, North and South Tyneside, Leicestershire, Liverpool, North Somerset and South Hampshire here.And finally, a last minute reminder to organisations applying to be a part of the Arts Council National Portfolio to follow the extra guidance on children and young people that is published here.