Policy and Practice round-up June 2019

03 June 2019

This month we bring you news of important recommendations from the DCMS Select Committee report Changing Lives; the Social Mobility Commission 6th state of the nation report; a new Minister for the Arts; DfE’s call for character education evidence; BBC reports on the value of music education; and a call for more drama in schools.

Changing Lives – new report for DCMS Select Committee on the social impact of culture

Published on 14 May, with a government response due by 14 July, Changing Lives: the social impact of participating on culture and sport reports on the findings of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry of the same name.

The report highlights the value of studying arts subjects, strongly holds the government to account for the decline in access and makes a number of important recommendations.

Importantly the report says:

“We are deeply concerned by the evidence we received around the downgrading of arts subjects in schools, with all the consequent implications for children’s development, wellbeing, experiences, careers and, ultimately, life chances. It is not enough for the DCMS and DfE to simply expect schools to provide a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’: they need to take action to ensure that this is actually happening. The Government has not shied away from a prescriptive approach to other facets of education policy, for example specifying which times tables primary school children need to learn.”

The report also calls for the government to make clear why their story about children’s access to arts is so different from that told by schools and the arts sector:

“This is the area in our broad-ranging inquiry where there was the largest gap between government’s policy intentions and statements and the lived experience of organisations submitting evidence. This gap urgently needs to be closed, including through a clear explanation from the DfE and the DCMS of the figures on cultural education that they hold, and why these seem to differ from those used by cultural organisations concerned about arts education.“

Key recommendations from the report are:

  • The DfE and DCMS and Ofsted to design an inspection regime for primary and secondary schools that measures cultural education
  • Arts subjects added to the EBacc
  • Government to commit to extend funding for the Primary PE and Sport Premium beyond 2020
  • DCMS to establish a new standing inter-ministerial group on the social impact of sport and culture
  • DCMS to audit current evidence base on the social impact of culture and sport and publish a report on the findings within 12 months

State of the Nation – Social mobility commission publishes sixth annual report

The sixth annual report of the social mobility commission makes difficult reading. The report finds that social mobility has remained stagnant since 2014 and 500,000 more children are in poverty than in 2012. At primary school the gap in attainment between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers widens.

The report finds that “Schools with better Ofsted ratings do not tend to have a lower gap in attainment between less advantaged children and their peers. Ofsted inspection outcomes largely reflect the socio-economic makeup of a cohort.” and the 8% cut in school funding since 2010 is having an impact on their ability to deliver important services.

The report makes a wide range of recommendations including better signposting to the 30 hours free childcare and extending eligibility, improvements to how Ofsted inspect and DfE and Ofsted working together to publicly acknowledge schools that tackle long term educational inequality, a review of pupil premium funding, and improvements to FE funding including a Student Premium. Read the full report and recommendations.

New Minister for Arts Heritage and Tourism

With the departure of Michael Ellis to be Minister of State for Transport, Rebecca Pow MP has been appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism. We look forward to working with her championing children’s access to arts and culture.

DfE Character experts assembled

You may remember back in January that Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education  launched a checklist of activities for children under 11 to help build character called My activity passport. Trying new activities and learning from failure are key elements that the Department for Education (DfE) have highlighted as boosting children’s character and resilience. Happily these are things that participating in arts and culture also develop and creativity has been identified as one of the five foundations for building character.

On 27 May Damian Hinds announced that he is assembling an expert panel on character and called for evidence to help shape the recommendations the panel makes on character education later this year, saying:

“Of course, I want every child to excel at school and do well in their exams – but this is just one part of how education prepares them for the future. Through school and college, young people gain the skills and qualifications they need to get a well-paid job, but to truly prepare for adult life we also need to make sure our young people build character and resilience.”

Music boosts school attendance & Drama advocates

The BBC has highlighted new research that shows studying music can help attendance at school in an article that includes contributions from the CLA’s very own Strategy Group member and former Chair, Matt Griffiths.

The BBC also highlighted the decline in arts in schools and the work of National Drama and Jessica Hynes, who played Siobhan Sharpe in BBC drama W1A, to campaign for more drama via a tour of schools this year.

Looking for evidence?

If you are looking for evidence on the impact of specific interventions we highly recommend from Kings College London. Plus, we are looking forward to delving in to all the data that will be produced from the RSA and Education Endowment Foundation project Learning About Culture next spring.