Policy and Practice round-up December 2022

13 December 2022

This month’s roundup includes two reports on cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda; the latest (troubling) data on Initial Teacher Training recruitment; a new report on social and emotional learning (SEL) in England’s schools and an evaluation of the National Saturday Art Club.

Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda

A report by a cross-parliamentary committee of MPs for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) offers an analysis of the importance of cultural learning in the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. Fundamentally, the report makes the case that if the government wants to grow the creative industries across the country (as part of driving national economic growth) then it will need to invest in cultural learning and training opportunities in historically underserved areas. This is the most efficient way to create a labour supply for creative industries.

The report also offers recommendations on how DCMS can spread cultural learning to these historically underserved areas:

  • Changing funding approaches by DCMS and arms length bodies such as Arts Council England, in order to prioritise areas outside of London and the South East
  • Collaborating with the private sector to introduce new cultural learning opportunities into underserved areas as a part of gradually increasing demand for these services, creating a sustainable market
  • Developing a network of hubs providing cultural spaces, workspaces and free, fast internet access in places most in need of levelling up

Cornerstones of Culture 

A new report from the Local Government Association (LGA) also looks at the relationship between local culture, barriers to its delivery and what it means to build a thriving local cultural ecosystem. 

The report draws extensively on our previous research and reports and CLA co-director Derri Burdon was one of the commissioners of the report.

The report focuses on local culture’s role in ‘levelling up’ and the response to Covid 19’s ongoing impact. The creative industries contributed some £115.9bn to the UK in 2019 but also have a big role to play in supporting key tenets of the ‘levelling up’ agenda, such as improving pride in place. The report points to Bradford’s City of Culture status as a key example of this.

The report calls for more to be done to improve access to high-quality cultural education, along with stronger pathways to creative industries, from school, through to Further Education, Higher Education, and employment.

Initial Teacher Training Census 2022/2023

Recruitment and retention of staff in England's teacher workforce has been a challenge for the past decade. This challenge briefly disappeared during the pandemic, when recruitment of initial teacher trainees improved greatly (as often happens during periods of economic recession). As an example, the government well exceeded their targets for recruiting art and design teacher trainees for the 2021/22 academic year.

However, the latest Initial Teacher Training data reveals a return to a worrying picture for the creative subjects:

  • The government has fallen 10% short of its art and design recruitment teacher trainee recruitment this year 
  • Recruitment of music new music teachers has fallen 7% since last academic year, meaning the government is now nearly 40% off its annual recruitment target 
  • While Design and Technology recruitment has slightly improved, it is still a staggering 75% away from the government’s target
  • While recruitment of drama teachers has fallen by 30% from last year, it is still exceeding government targets a glimmer of good news

Ultimately, if recruitment targets in the creative subjects are not met, then there will be a lack of supply of trained teachers to deliver these subjects in school. The consequence will be a constriction of the cultural learning offer in schools and its quality. This will affect disadvantaged students the most, as they are more dependent than their wealthier peers on access to culture within school. 

Catalysing Social Emotional Learning in Schools in England

A new report from The Centre for Education and Youth examines the current state of social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools in England. The report surveys the evidence on effective social and emotional learning, provides different theories on how to understand this learning, and looks at five case studies of organisations delivering this learning in schools. 

The report touches on the importance in practice of cultural learning for improving social and emotional skills:

  • The arts are one of the most tractable ways that schools can teach social and emotional skills
  • Kids Inspire, currently working with 268 schools across 11 Local Authorities, works with vulnerable young people to improve their social and emotional skills. While their approach is largely therapeutic, young participants express their progress through the arts and various creative media, helping them explain themselves in ways they may struggle to do otherwise
  • The case studies exemplify how drawing on external partnerships gives schools specialisms and flexibility that allow them to engage most effectively in SEL

National Saturday Club 2021/22 Evaluation 

National Saturday Club gives 13-16 year olds the opportunity to study subjects they’re interested in for free at their local university, college or cultural institution on Saturdays. Clubs take place across the country and many of the clubs are focussed on cultural learning. 

The first annual evaluation of the programme has found that:

  • 1,400 young people have attended 74 clubs this year across the country, working with more than 300 industry partners. Since the programme launched in 2009, 11,500 young people have taken part
  • 81% of the participating young people are from disadvantaged backgrounds of some kind. Attitudes towards the programme from young people and parents are overwhelmingly positive 
  • After attending a Saturday club, 99% of young people reported an increase in at least one of the kinds of creativity the programme focuses on. 84% reported feeling better at communicating their ideas and 91% said they feel more confident as a result.