Policy and Practice Round-up

21 December 2010

In late November we published an article on the headlines of the

Schools White Paper

as they related to cultural learning. We followed this up with a letter to the White Paper Team and to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, asking for a greater emphasis on cultural learning and a conversation about the ways that the cultural learning sector could support the delivery of the ideas set out in the document.Since our original blog post more information on the English Baccalaureate has come to light and it is now clear that the ‘humanity’ that is needed as part of the Baccalaureate suite of GCSE subjects cannot include any arts subject, even English Literature does not qualify. You can read the full set of restrictions here.This lack of recognition for the rigour and value of these arts and cultural subjects is disappointing. The aim of the Baccalaureate is to ensure that more young people access a broad and stretching curriculum, something which can only be enhanced by the inclusion of arts and cultural disciplines.On 6 December Dr John Dunford published his independent review of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. He recommends that the role is considerably strengthened, becoming legally responsible for promoting and protecting children’s rights, and is given greater independence from Government. You can read the Department for Education’s press release here.Creative and Cultural Skills published their

Literature Blueprint

this December, an analysis of the skills needed by the Literature sector in the UK. Young people are a strong theme throughout the blueprint, which has specific priorities related to training and professional development for writers working with children and young people and to the development of entry routes (including Apprenticeships) into the literature sector. The document also stresses the need for HE and FE to align their work and for increased digital and business skills within the workforce.Arts Council England has published some further information for organisations wishing to apply for funding through their national portfolio stream. This guidance is specifically for organisations working with children and young people and can be found here on their website. The document states that ACE “anticipates investing in a small number of organisations across the country, who will play a strategic role and be our main partners in ‘joining up’ key players in the arts and education field where that joining up is not already happening to a sufficient degree.”DCMS and Arts Council England are to invest £80 million in a new series of ‘match fund’ schemes, to raise at least an equivalent amount from private donors for the culture sector. You can read more here about the fund, which is part of a broader package to encourage giving to culture.Micahel Gove has announced a partial u-turn to his decision to scrap funding for School Sports Partnerships. It is reported that funding has been found from a range of sources within the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The CLA is delighted that colleagues working to join up schools and the sports sector will continue to be supported.Alongside the Localism Bill, we heard this week of the cuts that will be made to local authority budgets across the country over the next three years. Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, stated that the “average cut to an LA’s spending power will be 4.4%” but the Local Government Association (LGA) feels that once police funding is excluded, the cuts will average closer to 12.1%. Baroness Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the LGA, said: “This is the toughest local government finance settlement in living memory. A few councils have seen a reduction in the money they receive from the Government of up to 17% in the first year. As a result councils face a total funding shortfall of £6.5 billion over the next year.”News continues to flood in of cuts to local arts and cultural budgets. Barnet, Croydon, and Birmingham all hit the headlines this month announcing plans to cut funding to the arts and culture, which we know will have a deep impact on the children and young people in these areas.At the latest AGM the

National Association of Local Government Arts Officers

voted to transform the organisation into an enhanced arts body, open to all, to champion and support the development of the arts across the country under the strapline “working nationally, delivering locally.” It will also re-name and re-launch the organisation next spring as Arts Development UK. This is an opportunity for cultural learning colleagues to work closely with their local authority partners and bring their expertise and resource to the challenges of shrinking resources that lie ahead.We start winding down this week until the new year, and wanted to wish everyone a fabulous break and a wonderful festive season. January is the month we really start to get cracking on the national strategy for cultural learning. Your thoughts and ideas on the right infrastructure and the best practice will be critical in the success of this piece of work, so do continue to get in touch at Christmas!