Policy and Practice round-up April 2023

18 April 2023

This month’s round-up includes more information from DCMS on the Cultural Education Plan; a House of Lords debate on cultural learning; research into the impact of Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative; a new strategic vision for cultural learning from The University of Lincoln; two education professional development programmes from the Royal Opera House and Curious Minds respectively; and a new round of video content from young people from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

DCMS offers more information on the shape of the forthcoming Cultural Education Plan

The government’s forthcoming cultural education plan (announced in March 2022) has been subject to several delays. In recent weeks, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has stated the plan is very likely to include how best to promote children’s and young people’s participation in cultural opportunities, and to support those who wish to pursue careers in creative industries. 

We also understand that the expert advisory panel is likely to consider tackling disparities in opportunity and outcome, promote the social value of cultural education, examine ways to strengthen partnerships between the schools, cultural, creative and youth sectors, and consider the skills needs of the creative industries and cultural sectors, with the overarching aim of promoting high quality cultural education opportunities for all children and young people.

The membership of the expert advisory panel is due to be announced shortly. Baroness Bull was announced as chair of the panel in August 2022. 

A House of Lords debate on the performing arts highlights that both chambers of parliament are actively aware of the challenges that the cultural learning sector is facing at present

A debate on performing arts in the House of Lords on March 30th brought up many issues relating to cultural learning:

  • The ongoing absence of the government’s promised Arts Premium
  • The importance of schools in equalising access to arts provision
  • Delays to the Cultural Education Plan
  • The growth of some third sector music programmes run by religious organisations, such as the The National Schools Singing Programme run by the Roman Catholic Church 

Overall the participants in the debate emphasised that the government’s approach to music education currently leans too much towards the Music Hubs programme which fails to solve fundamental issues: the supply of music teachers, funding for high-quality arts education and the decrease in the number of hubs to cover larger geographical areas. 

20 years after the launch of Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, the programme appears to have been a success in widening access to music education

Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative (YMI) was launched in 2003, committing the Scottish government to providing a year of free music tuition to every child by the time they finished primary school. A new article in TES details the impact of the programme 20 years on. 

While it was predicted that YMI would increase participation in music-making from 60,000 to 160,000, the initiative has reached more than 360,000 young people as of 2021. 86% of funding has been targeted at areas of high socioeconomic deprivation. 

The article also goes beyond the statistics to cover the deeper impact YMI has had on school communities. Through the initiative, young people from low income areas have had the opportunity to learn musical instruments that are barely heard of in their community, find safe spaces in rehearsal rooms to learn how to be themselves, and raise their aspirations through performing in the Houses of Parliament. 

The University of Lincoln sets out a novel strategic vision to support cultural learning across the city

Professor Abigail Woods, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Arts at the University of Lincoln has written compellingly for the Higher Education Policy Institute on her provider’s commitment to putting arts at the centre of their offer. 

As part of this work, Professor Woods has created a strategy for arts, culture and heritage that sits within the University’s wider strategic plans. The strategy positions the arts as central to the University’s future success. The roll-out of the strategy aims to demonstrate to staff and students from across the University how the arts can enrich all lives, while also enhancing teaching and research, advancing civic missions, attracting students, and creating a more equitable world. The plan also includes the integration of the university with Lincoln’s general cultural assets to build a new creative hub and arts centre.  

The strategic approach offers a pathway for how other universities can act as infrastructure and support for cultural learning in areas where there is sufficient will and consensus. 

The Royal Opera House launches its sixth year of the ‘Leaders for Impact’ cultural learning programme

The ROH ‘Leaders for Impact’ programme is designed for headteachers and school leaders in a position to influence whole school approaches to cultural learning. Applications are now open, with ROH seeking 20 leaders in the East and South East of England to participate. 

The programme:

  • Develops leadership skills
  • Provides the insight and guidance to lead ambitious cultural learning programmes that extend beyond school into the community
  • Creates a network of school leaders who collaborate and support each other to embed innovative practice 

More information on the application process is available here

Curious Minds is about to launch its annual SLiCE programme for school leaders in the north of England

The Specialist Leaders in Cultural Education (SLiCE) programme is run by Curious Minds. The programme equips influential education professionals with the requisite skills, knowledge and connections to become powerful advocates and expert commissioners for cultural education within their own school, and across a wider group of schools (such as a multi-academy trust or local area network). 

Graduates of the SLiCE programme are deployed to support curriculum development and improve commissioning practice across the education and cultural sectors. Since 2012 more than 120 middle and senior school leaders have completed the SLiCE Fellowship Programme, drawn from a range of settings: early years, primary, secondary, special education and sixth-form colleges.

Details on the forthcoming programme are currently being finalised, with more information on the application process available here

A new video from The National Lottery Heritage Fund captures why it’s important to include young people in heritage projects

Since 2017, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has invested £10 million into 12 projects as part of its ‘Kick the Dust’ programme. The programme aims to make heritage projects more relevant to the lives of young people.

So far the programme has involved thousands of young people and has provided vital insights for heritage organisations on how they can work best with young people. The latest video from the programme features five young people talking about the programme and why it's important to involve young people in heritage. Comments include:

  • That it’s important for your people of all backgrounds to be able to walk into a heritage space and feel like they belong 
  • Using heritage to connect young people to place they live from a cultural and social perspective 
  • Using heritage to understand how individual young people can shape the future