Policy and Practice round-up December 2020

03 December 2020

This month we bring you news of a range of reports highlighting the impact of Covid on children experiencing disadvantage; new Covid guidance from government; how to get involved in the UNESCO Futures of Education initiative; STEAM activities; and ICYMI a DCMS report: the role of arts in improving health and wellbeing.

Impact of Covid on children experiencing disadvantage

As well as the Ofsted reports published on 10 November a number of other reports out in the past month have highlighted the increased impact of the pandemic on children already experiencing disadvantage.

  • The Education Policy Institute has reported on absence from school, noting the ‘increasing evidence that the most disadvantaged pupils across the UK are disproportionately affected. November data from Scotland continues to show that school attendance rates are lowest in the most deprived areas (84%) and highest in the least deprived areas (93%).’
  • Teach First and Teacher Tapp have compiled survey results from teachers that show that ‘four out of five schools with the poorest pupils in England and Wales do not have enough devices and internet access to ensure all self-isolating pupils can keep learning’ according to the Guardian.
  • The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2020 report, published on 22 October by NHS Digital found that the proportion of children experiencing a probable mental disorder has increased over the past three years, from one in nine in 2017 to one in six in July this year.

New Covid guidance from government including delivering music, dance and drama in schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance for Schools and for Out-of-school settings, including an enhanced section on delivering music, dance and drama in schools.

The government has issued new COVID-19 delivery guidance for the cultural sector: here is the updated Performing Arts and Visitor Economy guidance, and further guidance for the Christmas period.

The Space for Learning Covid guidance Government guidance section has also been updated with the new restrictions for England, Scotland and Wales.

Get involved in the UNESCO Futures of Education initiative

The Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative is aiming to catalyse a global debate on how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet, and has been running since September 2019.

It is relying on a broad, open consultative process that involves youth, educators, civil society, governments, business and other stakeholders. In November 2021 the commission will publish a report designed to share a forward-looking vision of what education and learning might yet become and offer a policy agenda.

A series of interim reports have already been published, including Education in a post-COVID world: Nine ideas for public action and there are a range of resources, including debate videos to drive discussion and help you shape a submission from yourself or your organisation. You can also individually take a 1 minute survey on the top three challenges and purposes of education. CLA Advisory Panel member Penny Hay, Director of Research, House of Imagination has been involved in convening focus groups and taking part in international discussions.

The deadline to respond to the UNESCO Futures of Education consultation is 31 December 2020.

STEAM news

New CREST Primary curriculum resources, including Art & Design

CREST Awards, run by the British Science Association, have launched new Primary materials aimed at supporting Primary teachers to incorporate CREST activities into their curriculum lessons. The materials include how CREST activities can support the delivery of the Art & Design curriculum in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is great to see STEAM activities being included in the BSA’s work.

News of R&D grants for Festival UK*2022

Festival UK 2022 will be ten ‘open, original, optimistic, large-scale and extraordinary acts of public engagement that will showcase the UK's creativity and innovation to the world’ with a focus on STEAM. On 16 November the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced the 30 creative teams they are funding for the Festival UK Research & Development project. 

DCMS report: the role of arts in improving health and wellbeing

ICYMI in September the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published an evidence review on the role of arts in improving health and wellbeing.  The report looked at the evidence available on how arts engagement can impact on social outcomes, youth development and the prevention of mental and physical illness with the aim of using the research to guide policy making.

The report found that there is grade A evidence that ‘can be trusted to guide policy’ for:

  • The use of music to support infant social development
  • The use of book reading to support child social development
  • The use of music or reading for speech and language development amongst infants and children
  • The use of the arts to support aspects of social cohesion
  • The use of the arts to improve wellbeing (i.e. positive psychological factors) in adults
  • The use of the arts to reduce physical decline in older age

Grade B evidence that ‘can be trusted to guide policy in most situations’ for:

  • The use of the arts (other than reading) to support child social development
  • The use of the arts to support wellbeing in children and young people
  • The use of the arts to support cognition in older age

The report rated evidence on the use of the arts to improve educational attainment grade C or D and ‘suggests that caution should be taken if developing policy in these areas and more work is needed’. The issue is that there has not been enough research done that that meets the requirements for research in the health sector, for example using control groups and randomised control trials. However, the evidence base for the role of the arts in improving educational attainment is currently being built, through work such as the RSA Learning About Culture randomised control trials looking at arts interventions in primary schools. We expect the RSA results in 2021. 

Read the full report.