Policy and practice round-up January 2012

26 January 2012

This month we give you a round up of updated news on the Henley Review timetable; a new report on children’s wellbeing; Arts Council England’s quality blog; and news of cuts and funding.


As you will all have surely noted, the Henley Review of Cultural Education, initially due in early Autumn last year, has not yet been launched by the government. Unofficially, we have been told to look ahead to mid-February now.

Just in case you need any reminding, these are the 28 things we would like it to cover. There was also a great piece in the Museum’s Journal this month which flags up many of these issues and concerns.

Children’s wellbeing

The Children’s Society has published a new report of children’s wellbeing: The Good Childhood Report. It unveils six key priorities needed for a happy childhood, and was compiled following interviews with more than 30,000 children aged eight to 16.

The Report’s headlines relate to the things in life which affect the way that children feel about themselves and their lives: for example, children who have low levels of happiness are much less likely to enjoy being at home with their family, feel safe when with their friends, like the way they look and feel positive about their future. Children unhappy in this way are also more likely to be victimised, have eating disorders or be depressed.

Alongside the report the Children’s Society has published a guide for policy makers and budget holders, suggesting priorities and actions that they can take to improve the well-being of children.

The six key priorities are:

  1. The right conditions to learn and develop
  2. A positive view of themselves and a respect for their identity
  3. Enough of the items and experiences that matter to them
  4. Positive relationships with their family and friends
  5. A safe and suitable home environment and local area
  6. The opportunities to take part in positive activities that help them thrive

Both reports do make small references to the importance of cultural learning. The initial data shows that positive cultural activities can be a key route for young people to achieve, with over 80% of children indicating that they had ‘done well’ in an activity outside of school over the last three months. In addition, the guide for policy makers makes a recommendation that there should be ‘One cultural school trip per year for every child’.

Arts Council England’s Quality project

ACE has published a new blog and is inviting partners to let them know their thoughts on what makes an excellent cultural learning project.

This is part of their on-going exploration of the principles of quality practice, and they hope that this discussion will contribute towards a shared approach for the Arts Council and arts and cultural organisations to understanding and comparing the quality of work by, with, and for children and young people.

A final report which outlines the research and consultation findings will be published in spring 2012. For more information on the Arts Council’s work in this area, visit the Arts Council England website.

Funding and cuts to cultural learning

The Guardian
kicked off the year with an article and letters outlining and reminding us all of the cuts to cultural learning that have already taken place, or which are facing the sector over the coming year.

In contrast, the government announced a £1bn (yes, you read it right!) investment plan to encourage young people to take up sport as pledged by the 2012 Games Bid. You can read the details in this article from the BBC.

Museum funding from ACE announced

Arts Council has announced their 16 Renaissance Major Partner museums, as well as further details of the Museum Development fund.

The 16 Renaissance Major Partners will together receive approximately £20 million a year in funding for the next three years as part of the Arts Council’s Renaissance programme for regional museums. As yet there is no indication as to how much they will focus on cultural learning, but we do know that their applications had to address Goal 5 of Great Art for Everyone (Children and Young People).