Policy and Practice round-up March 2021

10 March 2021

This month we bring you news of more data on job losses in the creative industries and which groups are being particularly affected; key information from the roadmap out of lockdown for cultural learning; an EPI report on the attainment gap post-16; an EEF report that suggests children eligible for FSM are much less likely than their peers to have extra-curricular arts lessons; and an open call from the National Theatre to get involved in their Inclusive Practice Collective.

More data on the impact of Covid on jobs in the creative industries

The Centre for Cultural Value has published a second article on The impact of Covid-19 on jobs in the cultural sector (we reported on their first article showing a loss of 55,000 jobs in the creative industries last month). In it they highlight the negative impact of the pandemic on the employment of three groups of creative workers: disabled people; those who are younger; and those who haven’t engaged in higher education. 

The article also links to the TUC January Jobs and Recovery Monitor, which highlights the impact of the pandemic on jobs and unemployment, and found that the number of women working in the arts and entertainment sector with African, Caribbean and Asian Heritage and from ethnically diverse backgrounds has fallen by 44%. They also found across all industries: ‘The number of [ethnically diverse] workers in employment fell by 5.3 per cent between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020, compared to a fall of just 0.2 per cent in the number of white workers.’

Roadmap out of lockdown for England – key information for cultural learning

On 22 February the government announced the ‘roadmap’ for the gradual reopening of different sectors of England’s economy, full details are in the Covid Response – Spring 2021 document.

In England schools started back on 8 March, and from 29 March all children can attend outdoor out-of-school provision.

  • 12 April libraries and the majority of outdoor settings and attractions can reopen. All children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity and parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old and staff) can restart indoors.
  • 17 May is the reopening date for museums and theatres with restrictions on audience size of 50% capacity or 1,000 indoors and 4,000 outdoors, whichever is lower.
  • 21 June all legal limits will be removed and advice on keeping safe will be issued.

All these dates are subject to Covid-19 rates and hospitalisations staying at low levels and can change.

Schools guidance on a broad and balanced curriculum from Department for Education

The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance for schools and for out-of-school providers from the 8 March and this states: ‘We advise against all educational visits at this time. This advice will be kept under review.’

Also in the DfE guidance are statements about the curriculum schools should be following with ‘key principles’ that include:

  • All pupils receive a high-quality education that promotes their development and equips them with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
  • The curriculum remains broad and ambitious. All pupils continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment.

The ‘key curriculum expectations’ include ‘Teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects’.

However, we are concerned to read that the guidance also allows for ‘substantial modifications to your curriculum’ and ‘You may consider it appropriate to suspend some subjects for some pupils in exceptional circumstances’, although the guidance then goes on to remind schools:

‘Prioritisation within subjects of the most important components for progression is likely to be more effective than removing subjects, which may deprive pupils of the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.’

Read more on the Space for Learning website.

Attainment gap continues between students experiencing disadvantage and their peers post-16

On 1 March the Education Policy Institute published new research Measuring the Disadvantage Gap that attempted to measure any attainment gaps between students experiencing disadvantage and their non-disadvantaged peers. This is a complicated area as unlike pre-16 where all students are taking GCSEs, post-16 students are taking a range of qualifications through different routes.

Looking across all qualifications achieved between the end of secondary school and by the age of 19, the data shows that students experiencing disadvantage are around 3 A level grades behind their non-disadvantaged peers, although this varies across the UK and by ethnic group. In Knowsley, North Somerset and Stockton-on-Tees the 16-19 disadvantage attainment gap is over 4.5 A level grades, whilst in Southwark, Redbridge, Ealing, Sutton, Merton, Newham and Islington, disadvantaged students have higher average attainment than non-disadvantaged students nationally.

Interestingly the EPI found that for non-academic qualifications that are equivalent to A Levels, such as Level 3 BTECs with similar teaching hours, this disadvantage attainment gap is only the equivalent of one quarter of an A Level grade per qualification between students experiencing disadvantage and their non-disadvantaged peers.

Looking across a range of different indicators the EPI found that:

‘… even under our more conservative assumptions our analysis has shown that economic disadvantage could be leading to disadvantaged students dropping almost half an A level grade when compared to their more advantaged peers. For progression to further or higher education, or transitions to the labour market, differences of this size matter.’

Read the full report for more details.

Children eligible for FSM between 50% and 80% less likely to participate extra-curricular lessons as their peers during lockdown

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published the early emerging findings of their Big Lockdown Learning Parent Survey which is collecting responses from around 1,240 parents whose children attend 75 primary schools participating in the study. The survey has been asking what additional formal activities children have been participating in beyond those set by schools, such as instrumental or drama classes.

They found that only 2% of children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), compared to 11% of those not eligible for FSM, have participated in a private lesson for extra-curricular activities, such as a piano lesson, and only 8% of children eligible for FSM, compared to 16% of those not eligible, have participated in a group extra-curricular lesson, for example a drama class.

The report stresses that these findings are based on emerging, exploratory analysis that has not been peer-reviewed, and should be interpreted with care. We look forward to the upcoming research report which will provide more detail.

National Theatre open call for partners: Inclusive Practice Collective

Following on from our news about changes to the Kickstart scheme last month, the National Theatre has launched Inclusive Practice Collective, which will employ young people via Kickstart, creating 60 paid roles for young creatives on Universal Credit to bring drama activity to 100s of young disabled people in 15 schools in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and London. There is an open call for partner schools and colleges, cultural organisations and young people until 25 March. School, College and community partners can email by 25 March 2021 to arrange a call to discuss working together.