Policy and Practice Round-up January 2014

28 January 2014

Door opened to STEM to STEAM

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport gave a speech on 22 January on the value of culture. You can read the speech here and the Telegraph’s review here.

The CLA disagrees with Miller’s view that this government ‘is making great strides to ensure the arts are a central part of every child’s education’ due to the disincentives currently in place – the English Baccalaureate, Discount Codes, the place of Drama and Dance in the curriculum, the absence of film from the new curriculum, and arts teacher training places.

The expert panel at the event questioned Miller closely on education. Deborah Bull of Kings College London asked about the 25% decline in Dance GCSE entries since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate in 2010 (15,884 entries in 2010 compared to 11,856 in 2013 according to AQA).

Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, called for implementation of the CLA recommendation that no school should be judged beyond ‘satisfactory’ by Ofsted unless it offers a broad and balanced curriculum which includes the arts and culture.

However, the CLA was delighted that the Secretary opened the door to STEM to STEAM in the speech with Miller saying ‘I agree with those who say an A belongs in STEM.’

STEAM is adding the A of arts subjects to the existing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, or STEM subjects, which receive additional funding and support.

Last year the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published the Supporting the Creative Economy report which included a recommendation that: The crucial role of arts subjects in a modern education should be recognised and that art subjects should be added to the STEM subjects, changing STEM to STEAM. (paragraph 117)

The CLA is endorsing this recommendation and is now looking in detail at what it could mean in practice in the UK.

Read more about how you can help make STEAM a reality by asking your MP to contribute to the Supporting the Creative Economy debate on 13 February here.

New evidence and research

Department for Culture Media and Sport: Estimates for Creative Industries Economic Impact, January 2014

DCMS published some very useful evidence about the Creative Economy on 14 January. Its findings included:

  • Creative Industries accounted for 5.2% of the UK economy in 2012
  • The GVA (gross value added) of the Creative Industries has increased by 15.6% since 2008, compared with an increase of 5.4% for the UK Economy as a whole.
  • Creative Industries accounted for 1.68 million jobs in 2012, 5.6% of the total jobs in the UK.
  • Employment in the Creative Industries increased by 8.6% between 2011 and 2012: a much higher rate than for the UK Economy as a whole (0.7%).

CLA members tell us that parents may steer children away from selecting arts subjects at GCSE and A Level because of fears about future employability. These figures are useful ammunition to dispel those concerns.

There is also a strong evidence base to suggest that studying arts subjects impacts on children’s employability regardless of the industry they go in to. One of CLA’s Key Research Findings is that the Employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment.

Sutton Trust Parent Power? Using money and information to boost children’s chances of educational success

The Sutton Trust’s findings in Parent Power? support the premise that studying arts subjects increases young people’s chance of success in education and employment.

The report shows that professional parents will pay for additional arts provision for their children as part of strategies for getting ahead, with 68% of professional parents versus 31% of lowest income parents paying for music, drama or sport lessons.

As Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation points out in the introduction:

After-school music and drama lessons, and trips to the theatre or concerts, provide access to a cultural capital that can matter as much as academic achievement in getting on later in life. While free museums and galleries give access to all, many of these activities are only available to those who can pay for them. Education is about more than what happens at school, and providing a more level playing field in out-of-school activities is essential if every child is to achieve his or her potential.

Lampl goes on to suggest that means tested vouchers should be used to provide cultural activities to children of working class parents.

The Sutton Trust’s findings endorse the CLA concern that, in an environment where the arts are being disincentivised in school and removed from the curriculum, children from professional backgrounds will continue to have access the arts while those from disadvantaged backgrounds will lose out.

Making Education Work report calls for the curriculum to include better team working, emotional maturity, empathy and other interpersonal skills

The Making Education Work report published by Pearson is the fruit of a six month review of England’s education system chaired by Professor Sir Roy Anderson and involving the CBI president Sir Michael Rake.

The report makes 13 recommendations as being necessary to prepare young people to progress to employment or further study at age 18. Alongside calling for a broader Baccalaureate-type system to be slowly implemented for post-16 learners, the report cites the need for a framework which develops competencies including:

learning to learn individually and as part of a team, personal, interpersonal and intercultural competence … a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, creativity and cultural awareness.

Recommendation 5 is interesting for those of us working in cultural learning:

Non-cognitive skills and attributes such as team-working, emotional maturity, empathy, and other interpersonal skills are as important as proficiency in English and mathematics in ensuring young people’s employment prospects. Assessment should reflect this reality and so investment is needed to support assessment experts in finding ways of reliably evidencing these skills.

The report has provoked much discussion. See the Independent, Telegraph and BBC reports, and the hundreds of comments.

Ofqual confirms Drama GCSE will continue

Regular readers will know we are very concerned about the disincentives impacting on the teaching of arts subjects in school.

These range from accountability measures such as Discount Codes, the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8, to the cuts in teacher training places for music and art, and the position and support for arts subjects in the new National Curriculum.

We have been concerned that another disincentive in the form of removal of GCSE status for some arts subjects was likely, namely drama and dance.

Therefore we were heartened to read on Glenys Stacey’s blog (Chief Regulator of Ofqual) that Drama GCSE is not a risk of being abolished. Stacey also confirmed there will be a consultation soon on the principles for determining which subjects should be GCSEs. The CLA will be responding to this. We are still waiting for news about Dance GCSE.

Are GCSE Discount Codes affecting you? Write to David Laws MP

Having written to your MP about the Creative Economy debate why not join in with Susan Cole of the Art Criminal’s campaign and write to David Laws, Minister of State for Schools, about Discount Codes?

As many of your will know, in February 2013 the government changed regulations so that certain combinations of GCSE subjects would be ‘discounted’ in any league table. For example, these changes mean that only Dance OR Drama can count towards league tables at GCSE, or only Graphics OR Art and Design (subjects like Science or Humanities are not affected in the same way).

CLA members are reporting that this is having an effect on the GCSE options being offered, with students not able to take some combinations of arts subjects and some subjects being withdrawn.

If you are being affected do please write to David Laws. You can use the template letter on the Art Crimes blog or write your own to highlight your concerns about the impact of Discount Codes on the provision of arts subjects in schools.