Policy and practice round-up November 2015

16 November 2015

This month we bring you news of Ofsted’s report on apprenticeships, British Science Association work that links to STEAM, the winner of the RIBA Sterling Prize, thoughts about testing in schools and a call to do one more thing.

Apprenticeships: developing skills for future prosperity

Ofsted published its report on how well apprenticeships are meeting the needs of young people and employers at the end of October.

The report highlighted the lack of clear advice in schools about apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds. Inspectors also found that many schools did not do enough to develop pupils’ readiness for work by ensuring that they had the skills and attitudes that employers value – skills which evidence shows can be developed by participating in arts activities.

Crucially for the cultural sector, which is predominantly micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), they found that SMEs were not sufficiently involved in apprenticeships and talked about the burden of running apprenticeships for SMEs.

The report includes a set of recommendations, including support for SMEs and a focus on industries that have the strongest demand for a skilled workforce and contribute to economic growth. This  clearly includes the creative industries with our growth rate three times that of the rest of the economy.

The report also makes useful reading for anyone running apprenticeships as it outlines good practice, and – equally helpfully – bad practice.


Science: not just for scientists

The British Science Association launched a collection of essays about the role of science in culture at an event on 22 October. They have also recently blogged on the importance of arts to science. As regular readers will know we feel that STEAM, adding the A of arts to the STEM subjects of Science Technology Engineering and Maths, is important for the future of education (read more about STEAM). 

Floriane, a young speaker at the event, summed up our thoughts about STEAM perfectly when describing how she has felt studying STEM subjects at school and the pressure to choose between science and the arts.

Read more about the event and take a look at the event storify and animation.


Burntwood School wins RIBA Sterling prize

Congratulations to Burntwood School for winning the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) Sterling Prize. It is great to see the role of the arts in creating inspirational space recognised, both through the design of the space and the use of art works in the school.

We were also pleased to see the newly opened Whitworth Art Gallery was voted BBC readers’ favourite.


Testing times

Two authors have recently spoken out about testing and tables in England’s education system. Philip Pullman spoke to the TES about how the current accountability systems have left arts education in a ‘terrible state’, and Michael Rosen blogged about testing in schools. They are both a good read.


Do one more thing

A New Direction, the London Bridge organisation, is calling for London School Leaders to ‘do one more thing’ to support cultural learning for children in receipt of pupil premium funding. There is a supporting toolkit and a list of ideas on their website. If you are London-based do take a look and get involved.

What one more thing could you do in your setting or work for children’s cultural learning?