Policy and practice round-up May 2017

02 May 2017

This month we bring you news of manifesto asks; the new Durham Commission on Creativity and Education; condemnation of Free Schools policy by the Commons Public Accounts Committee; Arts Council England Tailored Review results; NUT and ATL survey results; a new DfE consultation on Primary assessment; the new Chair of Ofsted; and the Get Creative Weekend.

General election

We have put together the commitments we would like to see in the manifestos for arts and cultural learning – read them on this page and download them as a briefing.

When you speak with your local candidates please do let them know how important children’s access to arts and culture is to you and your local community.

As a quick reminder the timeline for the election is:

3 May              Parliament dissolves. MPs no longer in post, all existing MPs become candidates. Minsters remain in post until Election day

Early May        Party manifestos published

22 May            Last day to register to vote 

23 May            Deadline to register for a postal vote (do this through your local authority)

Although full manifestos have yet to be published, some early commitments linked to education have already been announced with Labour committing to bringing back the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), funded through a rise in corporation tax.  The Schools Week five key things to know provides a handy outline of some of the likely areas of discussion.

Durham Commission on Creativity and Education launched

In his first speech as Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota announced the launch of the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education. The Commission will start work in the Autumn of 2017 and will report in 2019. It will draw on international evidence, expertise and a full range of voices from education, arts, science and culture to tackle some of the big questions facing cultural education in the next 20 years. It will focus on how to make the arts part of every child’s education. You can read the full text of the speech and the Guardian coverage of the announcement.

Non-EBacc subject choice limited by budget cuts

Further to our news piece on What is the true picture of the arts in schools?, new ATL and NUT union research shows that subject choice is being limited due to budget cuts, with 60% of secondary teachers reporting their school has cut the range of non-EBacc subjects. The report also paints a bleak picture of staff cuts, cut to spending on books and resources, and rising class sizes. You can download the full report from the NUT’s website.

Free Schools policy condemned as incoherent and poor value for money by Commons Public Accounts Committee

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report on capital investment in schools and Free Schools. The summary of the report opens with the statement:

‘The system for funding new schools and new places in existing schools is increasingly incoherent and too often poor value for money.’

The report flags issues around local authority responsibility for provision of school places, and the ‘over the odds’ cost of setting up Free Schools, against the deteriorating state of existing schools which need urgent repairs. The report includes a series of recommendations from the Committee which the Department for Education, currently in pre-election purdah, said they would respond to in due course. You can read the Independent and Guardian coverage of the story. 

Arts Council Tailored Review

This review looked at the efficiency and effectiveness of Arts Council England (ACE) and concluded that the organisation is effective and adds value. Recommendations include stronger systems of accountability for how ACE spends its funding, and better defining its role as a development agency. ACE will publish a response to the review and plan for implementing the recommendations in June.

Primary Assessment in England – Department for Education Consultation

On 30 March the Department for Education (DfE) announced a consultation on the assessment arrangements for primary children. It closes in June. When asked by Schools Week the DfE confirmed it  will continue with the consultation in spite of the election, so assuming there is no change in government the deadline for responses will remain 22 June. You can download the consultation document and questions from the DfE Consultation Hub. 

New Chair of Ofsted announced

Professor Julius Weinberg, former vice-chancellor of Kingston University and currently deputy chair of Ofqual, is to be the new chair of Ofsted’s non-executive board. He will be working with the new Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman who was appointed in January. 

Did you take part in the BBC Get Creative weekend?

Did you take part in the Get Creative weekend in April? Here at the CLA we helped decorate Easter eggs for a community hunt over Easter. Take a look at all the amazing creative things people got up to on the BBC Get Creative page.