Policy and Practice round-up February 2022

03 February 2022

This month we bring you news of a select committee call for changes to curriculum and accountability in England to improve take up of creative subjects; how the arts have transformed the fantastic Feversham Primary in Bradford; the Drama and Theatre Education Alliance Seize the Day programme on 18 March; Youth Voice Census 2021 data; and the National Saturday Club’s online Exhibition of Self-Portraits.

Youth Unemployment Select Committee report calls for changes to curriculum and accountability to improve take up of creative subjects

On 26 November the Youth Unemployment Lords Select Committee published Skills for Every Young Person. The report identifies a need for creative subjects to be given a higher priority in the education system to improve youth employment. Their solutions called for curriculum and accountability system changes to ensure more creative subjects are taught.

Regarding the National Curriculum the report found: ‘it is too narrowly focused to ensure that it prepares all young people for the modern labour market and the essential, technical and creative skills it requires, in particular for the creative, green and digital sectors.’

On accountability the report found:

‘The current specifications of the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 also result in a narrowing of focus which further inhibits skills development: we heard overwhelming evidence that the expectation to teach eight basic academic subjects and to judge schools on this requirement has led to a significant decline in the teaching of creative and technical subjects.

And calls for reform to the accountability system:

‘The Government must therefore reform progress indicators so that schools that wish to focus on courses of practical, technical, cultural, business and work-related skills alongside the core are able to do so without being downgraded on Government performance measures.’

We agree, and have been calling for reform to England’s school EBacc accountability system since its introduction in 2010, since when it has driven schools to de-prioritse arts subjects,  sending a message to parents, pupils and schools that the arts are not important to children’s life and employability outcomes.

Read the full report.

Read how the arts have transformed outstanding Feversham Primary

 Sam, one of our Co-Directors, visited Feversham Primary School in Bradford in 2017 as part of the RSA Learning About Culture project (see the Arts-Rich Schools RSA publication that features the Feversham case study). She came away very impressed with how Headteacher Naveed Idrees had structured the school within the current funding envelope and created the environment for arts specialists to deploy arts-rich learning so children could achieve really impressive outcomes across the curriculum.

We highly recommend reading more about their approach both in the Researching the Arts in Primary Schools blog article and in the RSA report.

Drama and Theatre Education Alliance: Seize the Day Friday 18 March 2022

On 18 March the Drama and Theatre Education Alliance is asking teachers in schools, lecturers in universities and drama schools, youth theatre practitioners and learning officers in theatres and arts organisations to invite their local MP to come and visit them with the aim of involving all 533 English MPs. See more on the DTEA website and get involved. 

Youth Voice Census 2021

Are you aware of the Youth Voice Census run by Youth Employment UK? It is a useful temperature check each year of the views of young people and could be helpful in shaping your plans for how to serve and work with young people. The 2021 survey found that 81.9% of young people don’t think there are enough opportunities to share their views on important issues in their area. Read more: Youth Census 2021.

National Saturday Club’s Online Exhibition of Self-Portraits live

The annual self-portrait project launches the National Saturday Club year, introducing Club members nationwide to ideas of self-expression. In a simple A4 template, young people are encouraged to explore their own sense of identity as well as themes including gender, class, race and representation. This self-reflective and multidisciplinary project celebrates young people’s individuality – their diversity, imagination, and unique perspectives – as they embark upon their National Saturday Club journey of discovery and inspiration. Take a look to celebrate the incredible, creative work of these young people and think about who else would benefit from knowing about National Saturday Club.