Policy and Practice round-up July 2019

02 July 2019

This month we bring you news of the Curriculum for Wales consultation; a Science Minister speech on the importance of Arts; Arts Council England’s draft ten year strategy; provisional A Level and GCSE arts entries for 2019; the University of Leeds to be first UK Centre for Cultural Value; the CBI calling for a creative subject to be added to the EBacc; and the Sutton Trust Elitist Britain report.

Draft Curriculum for Wales 2022 consultation closes 19 July

On 30 April the Welsh Government opened consultation on the new school curriculum which closes on 19 July. The new curriculum will be published in January 2020 and implemented from September 2022.

The new proposals include Four Purposes (Ambitious and capable/Enterprising and creative/Ethical and informed/Healthy and confident) and six Areas of Learning and Experience, of which Expressive Arts is one, which will allow more join up across subjects. Literacy, numeracy and digital competency are identified as central to learning and are Cross Curricular Responsibilities (CCRs).

The five disciplines within Expressive Arts are Art, Dance, Drama, Film and Media Studies and Music. It is worth nothing that Film is recognised as a discrete area, and Dance and Drama given equal weighting with Art and Music, unlike in England. We also welcome the focus on active learning:

‘Through the Expressive Arts Area of Learning and Experience, teachers/practitioners will encourage learners to develop not only their ability to appreciate creative works but also their creative talents, their artistic and performance skills. It provides opportunities to explore, refine and communicate ideas while thinking creatively and engaging the imagination and the senses. It also promotes exploration of issues of personal and cultural identity.’ 

Read more and respond to the consultation on the Hwb website.

Science Minister speech on the importance of the Arts

On 6 June Chris Skidmore MP, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, spoke at a meeting of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He took as his theme the value not of Science, but of the Arts and Humanities to society. Given the findings of the Augar Review published on 30 May that questioned the value of creative arts degrees, this focus was very welcome.

Skidmore said he is keen ‘to highlight the role of the Arts and Humanities when it comes to, not just understanding, but also tackling the major challenges we face in society today.’ He strongly iterated his commitment to the study of arts and humanities  and the importance he attaches to the subjects.

The Arts and Humanities are absolutely vital to our nation’s success and prosperity – not just in terms of transforming the lives of those that study them, and enhancing their future prospects. But bolstering our economy and putting the UK firmly on the map as world leaders in creative education.’

The speech was also notable for Skidmore’s reference to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths):

And this isn’t about simply turning STEM into STEAM for the sake of it. The Arts and Humanities cannot be added, as some kind of adjunct, to the sciences. I passionately believe that they must run in parallel, a horizontal thread across all scientific disciplines that helps to inform, explain and evaluate.’

You can read the full speech here.

Arts Council England draft ten year strategy published

Arts Council England (ACE) has published a draft version for consultation of its next ten year strategy for 2020 to 2030. The proposed new strategy has three outcomes and three principles:


  • Creative people – Every person can develop and express creativity throughout their lives
  • Cultural communities – A collaborative approach to culture helps villages, towns and cities across the country to thrive
  • A creative & cultural country – England’s cultural sector is innovative, collaborative and international


  • Ambition & quality – Cultural organisations are ambitious and committed to improving the quality of their work
  • Inclusivity & relevance – England’s diversity is fully reflected in the organisations and individuals that we support and in the culture they produce
  • Dynamism & environmental sustainability – Cultural organisations are dynamic and environmentally sustainable

The focus on creativity as an outcome, rather than arts, in the strategy is also worth noting. ACE define creativity as:

‘The process through which people apply their knowledge and intuition to make, express or imagine something new or individual to the creator. Creativity is present in all domains of life. For this strategy, the Arts Council is most concerned with the creativity associated with the making of ‘culture’.’

ACE is hosting a series of consultation events to test the new strategy and you can book to attend a workshop or respond online. Find out more on the ACE website. Deadline for responses is the 23 September.

Provisional GCSE and A Level entry results for 2019 published by Ofqual

If you are interested in all the detail on GCSE and A Level provisional entries in arts for 2019, Ofqual has published the overarching provisional entry numbers and produced tables showing changes compared to 2018. When looking at the numbers – which show a modest increase in Art & Design subject entries and a decline in entries to other arts subjects – it is worth remembering that the number of students in year 11, the year most GCSEs are taken, has increased by 3.5% from 2018 to 2019.

Anecdotally we are also hearing from our members that the increase in Art & Design entries is a result of schools scrapping Design & Technology courses and moving students on to Art & Design courses which are cheaper to run. 

University of Leeds to be first UK Centre for Cultural Value

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England, with a £2 million pound investment over five years, the Centre for Cultural Value will study the UK’s arts and culture sector and its unexplored potential. Themes the research will look at include the role of culture in conflict resolution, education, health and wellbeing, and community regeneration.

The Centre for Cultural Value will also offer £200,000 of seed funding to arts and cultural organisations wishing to explore new methods of evaluating their cultural value with the support of a dedicated academic researcher.

The Centre will open in February 2020 in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, with engagement events held this autumn.

CBI calls for a creative subject to be added to the Ebacc

On 27 June the CBI published Getting young people 'work ready' stating that 44% employers feel that young people leaving school, college or university are not ‘work ready’ and that ‘employers are still raising concerns about a perceived narrowing of the school curriculum – in particular the decline in creative subjects’.

The report highlights the problem of the narrowing of the curriculum and the decline in the study of arts subjects at GCSE, and has four recommendations for government, one of which is adding a creative subject to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) to combat the narrowing of the curriculum.

CBI recommendations:

  1. Government needs to rethink qualifications including GCSEs
  2. The Government should broaden the EBacc to include a creative subject
  3. The government should work with the education sector and business to develop a framework and shared approach for essential attributes to sit alongside the Gatsby Benchmarks
  4. The government’s Youth Charter and Careers Strategy should be integrated

Read full the report on the CBI website.

Sutton Trust publish Elitist Britain report

On 25 June the Sutton Trust published Elitist Britain 2019, which looks at the educational pathways of Britain’s elite, defined by the Trust as the leading figures across nine broad areas: politics, business, the media, Whitehall and public bodies, public servants, local government, the creative industries, women and sport.

The key message is that social mobility is low and not improving and that the UK power structures are dominated by a narrow section of the population – 39% of the elite went to independent schools and 24% graduated from Oxbridge. 

The report looks at the background of the elite in the creative industries. On average 29% of the elite in the creative industries were privately educated, compared to 7% of the general population, however, the number attending comprehensives has risen 18% since the 2014 report. The report finds:

‘ … substantial barriers to success in the arts from those from disadvantaged backgrounds. These include access to facilities, equipment and training; very high levels of unpaid work, including a culture of unpaid internships; and often class-based assumptions – conscious or unconscious – particularly in acting.’

The Trust makes ten recommendations. Number one is Enacting the ‘socio-economic duty’ clause of the Equality Act 2010, which would require all publicly funded bodies to consider how they can reduce the impact of socio-economic disadvantage, and for bodies to collect and monitor socio-economic background data in the same way they collect stats on gender and ethnicity. They are also calling for legislation to tighten the rules around internships and for employers and universities to adopt contextual recruitment practices.

We welcome this additional research in social mobility and the backgrounds of those who are in leadership roles in the UK to help us all understand the challenge we face to improve social mobility, which starts with the types of education our children receive. We believe that access to the arts is a social justice issue and that engaging in the arts helps improve social mobility.

You can read the full report and explore the data on the Sutton Trust website.