Policy and Practice round-up March 2022

03 March 2022

This month we bring you news of the fate of BTECs; the Culture in Crisis report from the Centre for Cultural Value; a new Representation in Dance Education resource; an ask for Art Teachers to fill in a survey from NSEAD; a new guide for governors from Arts Council England; and a July Artsmark Celebration ‘Day to Create’.

Ofqual consultation about the fate of BTECs launched

Over the past two years the Department for Education (DfE) has been pursuing Level 3 qualification reform, with the aim that that everyone would take A Levels or the new T Levels post GCSEs. Originally this plan included ending funding for BTECs, but after a high level of push back from the education sector the government paused the plan to end funding of BTECs pending further consultation. BTECs, which including Performing Arts BTECs, are a valued route for many into further study. Read more on the Protect Student Choice website.

On 24 February Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education, wrote to Ofqual about Level 3 qualifications, which include BTECs, and Ofqual launched a consultation about how it will regulate ‘alternative academic qualifications and alternative technical qualifications’ which includes BTECs.

Are performing arts BTECs safe?

The Ofqual consultation states that the DfE ‘intends for A levels to be the main academic option available for 16-to 19-year-olds. In addition, it intends for there to be 2 categories of alternative academic qualification’. It then goes on to include as one of the categories:

‘qualifications in subject areas with high levels of practical or performance-based content that is not available through A levels, and that would typically represent a student’s whole study programme. These large qualifications will be in subject areas where no T Level exists and where A levels do not offer the best preparation for specialist higher education.’

This seems to suggest that performing arts BTECs would fall into this second category of qualifications that will be retained and funded, however we are waiting on further information. Additionally ‘Performing Arts Graded Examinations’ are excluded from any cuts. 

However there are four stages to the review of Level 3 qualifications, including a DfE "necessity" review and Education and Skills Funding Agency funding review due this Autumn, which will both have a high bar for approval of qualifications. This means we are still waiting to find out the fate of the performing arts BTEC.

Read more from Schools Week.

Culture in Crisis report from the Centre for Cultural Value

If you have been following the work of the Centre for Cultural Value you will know they have been working with the Audience Agency through the pandemic to track the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector workforce and audiences.

Their most recent report Culture in Crisis shares the results of research based on more than 230 interviews; labour force data from the Office for National Statistics; social media analysis; five waves of a UK population survey (the Cultural Participation Monitor led by The Audience Agency); and an analysis of the cultural ecosystem of Greater Manchester.

As the title suggests the report paints a bleak picture of the state of the arts and cultural sector, mapping an absence of recovery in audiences for performing arts; the continuing negative impact on workforce health and wellbeing; and huge job losses during the pandemic which were not felt equally – it notes that ‘existing inequalities predetermined the uneven impacts of the pandemic.’

The report does note there have been some positives during the pandemic, with cultural organisations re-evaluating ‘their purpose and their relevance to local communities’ in the light of Black Lives Matter, and that for some organisations ‘digital or hybrid delivery had revolutionised their relationships with schools and education partners.’

Recommendations for cultural learning

The report observes that ‘Business models that embrace a hybrid strategy are likely to fare well as the sector slowly emerges exhausted from the pandemic. Digital innovation can make a positive difference, but only when embedded in a long-term strategy of audience and school engagement.’

Work is continuing in the cultural education sector to develop new hybrid learning strategies with the Clore Duffield Foundation providing support through Space for Learning, guidance on hybrid learning emerging through initiatives such as Mind the Gap and advice available from Stephen Heppel’s excellent blog hybrid, blended, modeless: a primer, as well as research from education organisations such as the EEF, Ofsted, and ResearchED.

Representation in Dance Education resource launched

The RIDE (Representation in Dance Education) resource is a new free resource for teachers created by the Decolonising the Dance Curriculum roundtable. The roundtable is hosted by One Dance UK and CLA is pleased to be a supporter.

RIDE showcases global majority dance work through three distinct areas:

  • Dance Works
  • Artists, workshops and Continued Professional Development (CPD)
  • Music List

The aim of RIDE is to help teachers and educators to deliver content that is authentic, diverse and inclusive. In the resource teachers are also able to find global majority artists and companies local to them to support the delivery of dance in their school.

Read more and download the resource on the One Dance UK website.

Calling all Art Teachers and Primary Art Leads – complete the NSEAD Art, Craft and Design survey about teaching

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design (ACD) in Education, which is run by NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design), is looking for teachers of Art, Craft and Design (ACD) to complete a short five minute survey about teaching the subject.

The survey is open to educators from all phases, Early Years to College, who teach ACD in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You do not need to be a specialist, e.g. you could be a generalist primary teacher who teaches ACD.

The survey builds on the NSEAD Survey 2015-16. The evidence NSEAD collect will help them advocate for the value and importance of the subject by identifying the impact of government policies on art and design provision; the value given to ACD as a subject; teacher wellbeing and workload and changes to continuing professional development (CPD).

New guide for governors from Arts Council England

Are you a School Governor? Sam Cairns, one of our Co-Directors, says of being a school governor that it is one of the best pieces of CPD she does to understand the pressures England’s schools are under and the barriers to providing an arts-rich education.

To help Governors champion the right to a quality arts education for all children and young people Arts Council England have refreshed their existing guides for governors and added a Drama guide.

 The subjects they cover are:

  • Arts, culture and creativity
  • Art, craft and design
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Drama

The guides have been developed in partnership with the National Governors Association alongside the subject associations, National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD), One Dance UKMusic Mark, and for drama the Theatre Education Forum.

School or Education setting in England? Take part in Artsmark Celebration ‘Day to Create’ on 6 July 2022  

In celebration of 20 years of Artsmark, Arts Council England is inviting children and young people from schools and education settings across the country to take part in ‘Day to Create’ on Wednesday 6 July 2022.  

‘Day to Create’ will celebrate the Artsmark community and children and young people’s ideas, imagination and creativity through whole-school arts activity. It is open to all schools and settings eligible for Artsmark. You don’t have to hold an Artsmark Award or be registered for Artsmark to participate. Sign up to take part and receive a free ‘Day to Create’ pack with practical tools and resources.


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