Policy and Practice round-up June 2018

21 June 2018

This month we bring you news of new funding for Creative People and Places; the RSA Strong Arts, Strong Schools event and call for Evidence Champions; Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards at the Education Select Committee; the first results of the OECD Education 2030 research; and the Arts Council England Corporate Plan.

 New funding for Creative People and Places programme

On 14 and 15 June the Creative People and Places network ran their People, Place, Power conference and launched their most recent research on engagement processes across their work – Mapping and analysis of engagement approaches across the Creative People and Places programme. If you are looking for information about the values, practice and programming approaches that are having such a huge impact on engaging new audiences do have a read.

At the conference Sir Nicolas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England (ACE) announced that ACE will be allocating £37 million for a new round of Creative People and Places funding between 2018-2022, of which £24 million will be for new places.

Strong Arts, Strong Schools

On 23 May the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) ran their Strong Arts, Strong Schools evening with speakers including Andria Zafirakou, the 2018 Global Teacher prize winner,  Laura McInerney of Teacher Tapp fame, and Stella Duffy Co-Director of Fun Palaces. Some really important points were made about the need for arts to be for everyone, and to be SEEN to be for everyone, from which can flow understanding of the power of arts.

Andria Zafirakou said that often parents from her school ask ‘What is studying art going to get you?’. We need to tell everyone about the skills that studying the arts give you what ever  job you choose to go in to. Laura McInerney made the point that some schools are now ensuring that every child in every year takes part in a play and in the orchestra; when that happens, parents can see  their children involved in the arts and that the arts are for everyone. She went on to make the point that if there are no arts teachers in schools those activities cannot happen.

Stella Duffy pointed out that it is the arts sector’s job to make the arts visible in people’s lives and communities; then everyone can see their value in children’s lives.

You can watch the film of the event on the RSA website.

Join the RSA Cultural Learning Evidence Champions Network

As part of its Learning About Culture programme the RSA is working with Arts Council Bridge Organisations to champion the role of evidence and evaluation in improving the quality and impact of arts and cultural education. To that end they are looking for champions.In its first year the Evidence Champions Network will connect 100 artists, educators, evaluators, cultural organisations and funders who want to support better use of evidence and evaluation in arts and cultural learning. 

Through the Network, Champions will develop knowledge and skills in evidence-rich practice and help spread the word about its value, convening online and in regional hubs, to support practitioners across England. Find out more about the programme and apply to become an Evidence Champion.

22 May Education Select Committee – Nick Gibb defends the English Baccalaureate

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, appeared before the Education Select Committee on the subject of Accountability on 22 May. It was a wide-ranging discussion which included MPs asking Gibb about the impact of the EBacc on Creative Subjects and the narrowing of the curriculum.

You see the MPs picking up on these issues and Gibb’s response in the video

Gibb justified the EBacc by saying studying the subjects included represented a broad curriculum. He also points out that in high-performing jurisdictions around the world students study the EBacc subjects to 16 or 18. What he omits to mention is that in these jurisdictions they also study arts subjects to 16 or 18, as shown by the Department for Education research into the curriculum in 2011.

When asked about the decline in Arts GCSE entries Gibb said that the same percentage of the cohort of students are studying Music and Art & Design GCSE as in 2010, but failed to mention the falls in entries as a percentage of cohort of other arts subjects (the largest is -16% for Design & Technology) or that overall a smaller percentage of the cohort is studying Art & Design subjects because other non-GCSE qualifications have been cut and students moved to the GCSE. You can read more about the overall picture in the EPI Entries to arts subjects at Key Stage 4 report.

It is also important to note that these numbers are all based on the 2017 stats. Given the continuing falls in Arts GCSEs entries recorded by Ofqual for 2018 it is difficult to see how the statistics could remain stable.

Gibb did recognise the fall in Design and Technology (D&T) GCSE entries, but refused to consider changing the EBacc to include D&T.

First results of the OECD Education 2030 research

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – which exists to 'promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world' – is running a research project, The Future of Education and Skills 2030. The project aims to help countries find answers to what knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are needed for today's students to thrive and shape their world, as well as how systems can develop these effectively.

Earlier this year they published their first results, The Future of Education and Skills Education 2030 and they make fascinating reading, especially when seen alongside the Education Select Committee covered above.

The OECD is very clear that to navigate the future world of work young people will require a broad mix of skills mediated by attitudes and values. Key themes that emerge are young people having agency; critical and creative thinking skills; the ability to mobilise their knowledge; skills to solve complex problems; and the values to understand the consequences of their actions.

“Students will need to apply their knowledge in unknown and evolving circumstances. For this, they will need a broad range of skills, including cognitive and meta-cognitive skills (e.g. critical thinking, creative thinking, learning to learn and self-regulation); social and emotional skills (e.g. empathy, self-efficacy and collaboration); and practical and physical skills (e.g. using new information and communication technology devices). The use of this broader range of knowledge and skills will be mediated by attitudes and values (e.g. motivation, trust, respect for diversity and virtue).”

As well as setting out an overarching learning framework with competencies the report outlines curriculum design principles.

The report closes by saying:

“You are invited to add your voice and your support to its visions and ideas by joining the Working Group of the OECD Education 2030 project. The group is collecting ideas and examples of good practice for making the learning framework actionable.”

Find out more about Education 2030.

Arts Council England Corporate Plan 2018-20

Arts Council England (ACE) published their corporate plan for the next two years on 30 May. Key themes are how they are preparing for expected cuts to their budget; the need to advocate to local authorities about the value of arts and culture; and ensuring they are spending 75% of their income outside of London.

The Corporate Plan acknowledges the issues around arts education:

“There has been widespread debate about the declining take-up of arts subjects at GCSE and the potential impact this might have on our talent pipeline. There are also broader questions about the extent to which we are successfully developing the creativity and creative thinking in our citizens needed to ensure successful, cohesive communities.”

ACE is tackling these challenges through the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education, and their work with De Montfort University in Leicester on a 25 Year Creative Talent Plan. The latter will test practical steps we could take to ensure that every young person in this country is able, by the age of 25, to fulfil their creative potential. They will also be evaluating the impact of the Cultural Education Challenge.

ACE also announced Developing Your Creative Practice, a new funding programme for individual creative practitioners with grants ranging from £2,000 to £10,000. Round 2 opens on 12 July 2018.

This month’s advocates

Aside from Education Select Committee members Ian Mearns, Michelle Donelan, James Frith and the Chair Robert Halfon who grilled Nick Gibb on the rationale for the EBacc and the speakers at the RSA event above, we would add Colin Harris, a headteacher from Portsmouth, writing in the TES setting out how ‘We've destroyed the creativity in our schools’.