Policy and Practice Round-Up Jan 2013

16 January 2013

In this bumper new-year edition we give you news of a new report on Academies, the launch of a new national youth network for the visual arts, council cuts, a new award for creative industry employers, the New Year’s Honours list and a number of updates from government – from new spelling tests to poetry competitions.

The Academies Commission Report

The Academies Commission set up by the RSA and Pearson Think Tank and chaired by Christine Gilbert (Former Chief Inspector of Schools) has produced a report on the effectiveness and performance of Academy Schools. You can download it here.

The report makes three main sets of recommendations for improvement:

  • for academies to focus much more closely on teaching and learning, with training and support for teachers and governors and a requirement for academies to better support other local schools;
  • a guarantee of fair and equitable access to academies for all pupils – regardless of background;
  • better accountability – with particular emphasis on rigor and transparency in sponsor recruitment and appointment and in communicating to parents and stakeholders.

You can read more about the report from the BBC, from The Telegraph and from the TES.

Launch of Circuit: a new national youth network for the visual arts

At the end of last year Tate announced a new £5m national arts programme for under 25s funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which will be rolled out across the country through selected galleries in the Plus Tate network. Circuit will be launched in April 2013 with a young people’s festival in the Tanks at Tate Modern.

Circuit aims to reach 80,000 young people aged 15–25 over four years. The programme provides opportunities for young people across the UK, particularly those who have the least access to the arts, to participate and shape their own cultural experiences.

You can read coverage of the initiative here in The Independent.

Newport Council proposes cuts to music services

The BBC reports here that Newport council plans to reduce the Gwent Music Support Service (GMSS) budget by around 40% – a crushing blow to those who believe it to essential to the lives of children and young people it reaches.

A call for nominations: Creative Apprentice Employer of the Year Awards 2013

Creative and Cultural Skills is calling for nominations for its newly announced Award which recognises and celebrates on-going commitment to skills and training through Creative Apprenticeships.

Nominations can be made by apprentices, other staff members, employers, and providers and the awards will be presented at the Annual Conference in March 2013. Closing date for nominations is 25 January 2013.

New Year's Honours list

Very many congratulations to the cultural learning colleagues who were honoured in this year’s lists. Quentin Blake (who designed the CLA Twitter ‘culture baby’ logo), Ruth Mackenzie of LOCOG, and Nicholas Williams of the BRIT School are only a small number of the many who gained recognition for the work they do for children and young people and the arts. We salute them all.

You can read the full list of awards here.

News from Government

  • Young entrepreneurs fund

At the beginning of the year David Cameron announced a £30 million boost to a fund to support young entrepreneurs to start a business. If you are (or work with) a young person who is 24-30 years old then this scheme could offer you some mentoring, business planning advice and cash to get started.

  • Funding for schools

The Department of Education has made a statement about the funding it will allocate to schools in 2013 – 14. As is pointed out by the brilliant @SchoolDuggery on Twitter, the underlying settlement means flat cash per pupil.

  • New grammar and spelling tests

The Daily Mail reports here that the DfE has plans to unveil new grammar and spelling tests for 11 year olds. Up to 600,000 pupils a year, starting from this spring, will take the 45-minute exam and a separate test containing 20 spelling questions. You can read the DfE Press release here.

  • The DfE and Andrew Motion launch a new poetry recitation competition for schools

The Poetry Archive’s competition, ‘Poetry by Heart’, will see thousands of students aged 14 to 18 competing to become national champion for their skill in memorising and performing poems.

Students will choose poems from an anthology of classic and contemporary poetry specially selected for the competition. These will include Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold, Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shakespeare’s clown song from Twelfth Night – ‘When that I was and a little tiny boy’.

The Department for Education is providing £500,000 of funding to The Poetry Archive to develop and run the National Poetry Competition as part of its commitment to help bring poetry to life in schools. The competition aims to develop and support inspiring poetry teaching in schools and to motivate pupils and teachers to explore England’s rich literary heritage.

You can read about the scheme here in The Telegraph.

  • ‘50 Ways to Save’ from the Department of Communities and Local Government

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has written to local authorities about “50 sensible savings” they can make. It will not have escaped some of you that number 48 states:

Lease works of art not on display: Many councils own art galleries and museums and have extensive collections which never see the light of day, but merely gather dust in storage.

You can read the Museum Association response here. We know that inspirational collections-based learning goes on with items in stores; Revisiting Collections and the Stories of the World projects are excellent examples.