Policy and Practice round-up January 2023

16 January 2023

This month’s round-up includes a CBI Education and Skills survey; a funding boost for 16-19 education; what we can expect from education in 2023; accommodating neurodiversity in dance; metacognition in the music classroom and a survey from Runnymede Trust.

CBI Education & Skills survey

The Confederation of Business and Industry (CBI) is the largest representative of employers in the UK. Every year, the CBI puts out an ‘Education and Skills’ survey to its members, identifying the attitudes of employers towards the current education system and the skills gaps they experience in their workplace. 

The 2022 survey results are currently being trailed by the CBI and show a few clear patterns:

  • The percentage of firms saying they will increase investment in training in the next year has fallen between 2021 and 2022 (from 53% to 38%)
  • Employers generally have a low level of awareness of new government policies related to skills and education (e.g. the Lifelong Loan Entitlement
  • 75% of businesses are planning to maintain or expand their apprenticeship offer over the next year. For firms that do not offer apprenticeships, 42% stated that the main reason is that apprentices lack the skills they need. 

These findings are relevant to cultural learning in at least two ways. Firstly, lower investment in upskilling from employees puts a greater burden on schools, colleges and universities to give young people the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Previous CBI surveys show that young people entering the labour market often need greatest upskilling in communications and creativity. As such, there may be a greater demand on schools to use the creative arts to teach these skills to young people in service of employers. 

The number of new young people in England taking up apprenticeships in the creative industries has fallen sharply: just 120 individuals enrolled in creative arts and entertainment apprenticeships in the 2020/21 academic year. Consequently, any maintenance or growth of the number of apprenticeships available to young people may be good news for the supply of technical training opportunities for young people who want to work in the creative arts. 

Funding boost for 16-19 education

The government has announced a further £125 million for schools, colleges and other providers to deliver education to 16-19 year olds next academic year. The funding will cover students enrolled in A-Levels, T-Levels and vocational courses. This will increase the amount of funding 16-19 settings are able to spend per-pupil by 2.2%, with the aim being that they will be able to increase the amount of teaching or support a young person receives. 

England already trails behind many other high-income countries in the number of hours of teaching young people receive between the age of 16-19. While the funding should increase the resource that creative subjects teachers and mentors have in the post-16 phase, it will only do a small amount to plug the massive financial holes left by a decade of underfunding pre-tertiary education. 

What can we expect from education in 2023?

A new blog from Jonathan Simons, director of education at Public First and veteran policy analyst, sets out predictions for the educational sector in 2023. These predictions include:

  • Teachers will go on strike, but that the government is unlikely to meet their demands for a 10% pay rise 
  • Teacher shortages won’t improve in England 
  • The Labour Party will announce a review of undergraduate tuition fees
  • The Office for Students will act on its new monitoring standards and call out at least one Higher Education provider for courses that do not lead to good employment outcomes 

While these are speculative predictions, any of the above outcomes would have significant implications for the cultural learning sector. 

Accommodating Neurodiversity in Dance

A new piece in One Dance’s ONE Magazine provides fascinating guidance for dance teachers in making their sessions accessible to neurodiverse young people. Tips include:

  • Cluttered, noisy spaces where music mixes with voices can be distracting and unpleasant for those with attention-related disorders: ‘A calm environment with good lighting benefits everyone’
  • Avoiding last minute rescheduling of rehearsals or auditions as this can be difficult for individuals who are sensitive to abrupt changes of plan 
  • Engage a specialist for introductory training as appropriate 

Metacognition in the music classroom

Metacognition has been one of the big buzzwords of the last decade of education and is vaunted by some researchers as one of the best ways to improve young people’s educational attainment at low cost. Music Teacher Magazine recently published an article showing how to apply the principles of metacognition to improve music teaching. 

The article uses a worked example of weaving metacognition into a lesson for young people on learning to play ground bass. The example shows how students can:

  • Activate their prior knowledge to make tasks less challenge
  • Benefit from explicit strategies or approaches for completing a task 
  • Benefit from modelled examples 
  • Be taught clear memorisation strategies that help them pick up tasks quicker 
  • Be support through guided practice, including independent practice time 

While the application of educational research to the classroom is widespread, the movement to do this for cultural learning is still smaller than for other subjects. As such, articles like this are vital in supporting arts teachers to leverage the available research to improve their teaching. 

Runnymede Trust Survey

The Runnymede Trust’s ‘Visualise’ programme is currently studying race and inclusion in arts education. Working with the Freelands Foundation, the Trust is currently examining visual art classes in secondary schools. 

As part of this research, the Trust wants to hear about how students experience art classes, how much they enjoy them and how they could be improved. Students can respond through this short 10-minute survey.