Policy and practice round-up December 2011

20 December 2011

The first thing to note this month is that the Henley Review of Cultural Education has still not materialised. Don’t worry – you haven’t missed it, and we are expecting it to arrive now sometime in the new year.

This week the Department for Education published a whole bushel of documents, publications, statements and reviews . They included:

Positive for Youth

A cross-departmental statement - Positive for Youth’ aims to set out all the different existing policy and funding initiatives that relate to young people. At a glance we couldn’t see any new commitments (though let us know if any passed us by), but it is a useful summary of the current picture and takes in health, education, youth, children’s services and local government.

There is some particularly interesting information on local authority commissioning with funding for youth innovation zones’ to test radical new system-wide approaches to involving all local partners in supporting young people – the first four zones are Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Knowsley, and a consortium led by Devon.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Government Response (and new consultation)

Back in September the Department asked for responses to the new draft of the Early Years Foundation Stage. We sent in the attached written submission (crafted with our very talented friends at the Youth Music Early Years National Roundtable). This week the DfE has published its response and has re-opened the consultation for another month following some of the revisions it has made. We have not yet had a chance to see how far our ideas have been adopted, but will be re-engaging with this agenda very early in the new year to make sure that cultural learning has a clear presence in the framework – make sure you do too.

The National Curriculum Review Independent Expert Panel report and summary

has been published (see our main feature this month for some detailed analysis of the findings). Alongside these docs the DfE also put out two research reports which underpin some of the findings of the review team. You can read them here.

In addition 12 new Studio schools have been announced. Studio Schools offer academic and vocational qualifications, but teach them in a practical and project-based way. Study is combined with paid work placements with local and national employers that are involved in the school. Three of the schools featured on the DfE site make specific reference to cultural learning:

  • The Fulham Enterprise Studio School in Hammersmith and Fulham will engage with high-profile employers, including the BBC, Fulham FC and Age UK (Hammersmith and Fulham).
  • The Studio in Liverpool will specialise in games development and digital futures, providing pathways to employment in these significant sectors within the Merseyside region. Key employers involved include Sony and a number of small and medium sized enterprises, all of which will be assisting with developing and delivering the curriculum and in offering placements. The school also has the backing of several universities.
  • The Discovery Studio School in Stoke-on-Trent has links with employers in the local ceramics industry including Emma Bridgewater.


has confirmed short-term reforms to current GCSEs from September 2012. This follows plans outlined in last year's White Paper to return exams to the end of each course and stop the culture of re-sits. The changes also mean that students will once again be marked on the accuracy of their spelling, punctuation and use of grammar in GCSEs in key subjects. The reforms effectively end modular GCSEs.

The National Campaign for the Arts

has launched the very brilliant and useful Arts Index. Bringing together key data about the sector’s health for the first time ever, the Arts Index plots trends in tickets sales, corporate sponsorship, philanthropy and public sector funding, as well as other performance measures such as attendance levels for adults and young people, satisfaction levels and the number of people volunteering in the arts. Produced by the NCA in partnership with Audiences UK, this inaugural Arts Index report summarises data from across three years – 2007/8–2009/10 – and is the first indicator of how the arts sector across the UK is faring since the economic downturn.

Lots and lots of holiday goodwill

to everyone and thanks so much for all the amazing support, insight, graft and ideas that have come flooding in from Alliance members this year. Together we have really made a collective difference to the cultural learning landscape – onwards and upwards to 2012!