Policy and Practice Round-up October 2011

24 October 2011

All things Henley

In September the CLA submitted a set of recommendations to the Henley Review of Cultural Education which set out some of the key things that we think the government can do to support cultural learning. These are practical, low-cost suggestions which we think will make a real difference to our sector.

We look forward to the Review publication – currently planned for later in November and hope that many of our ideas are adopted by the team, and subsequently by ministers.The National Plan for Music Education is also due out this month.

E-Bac and the Curriculum

The National Curriculum Review is still on-going – with no official announcements made as yet and public consultation on the first set of recommendations now due early next year. However, debate regarding both the curriculum and the English Baccalaureate (E-Bac) is still very much live, and it is critical that we continue to clearly state the importance of the arts and culture to every child and young person’s statutory education.

Excellent recent pieces in the Art Newspaper; one featuring Anna Cutler, Director of Learning at Tate, and one featuring Jarvis Cocker, have flagged up the current jeopardy and real benefits of cultural learning. In an open letter to the Guardian last month ‘The battle for arts and minds’ a range of key individuals (including the CLA Chair Lord Puttnam) called for recognition of the value of creativity and for changes to the E-Bac, whilst the Confederation of British Industry (CBI ) produced a briefing stating that the ‘E-Bacc should give young people the opportunity to study a creative or technical subject such as ... music, art and design, or drama.’

Andy Burnham (when still in post as Shadow Secretary for Education) recently unveiled a rival baccalaureate scheme to the E-Bac: the ModBac. This appears to be a similar selection of GCSE subjects, but with a wider selection eligible, the addition of recognition for enterprise and awards at different levels. The Local Schools Network website has an interesting debate on the subject.


(the Office of Qualification and Exam Regulation) has launched a consultation on plans to scrap GCSE modules and move all exams to the end of the 2 year course. This will only apply to English literature, geography, history and religious studies to start with, but the reforms will also see students marked on their spelling, punctuation and grammar. Let them know what you think

Parliamentary matters

Recent shadow cabinet reshuffles mean that we wave goodbye to Ivan Lewis and Andy Burnham and welcome Harriet Harman as Shadow Culture secretary and Deputy Prime Minister and Steven Twigg as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

There was also a good recent debate on dance and education in Parliament last week with Frank Doran MP challenging the statement made by Minister David Willetts MP that ‘soft’ subjects such as A-level Dance should be worth less points for students applying to attend university. The ISTD has written an article here.

Funding news

Dr Kevan Collins (formerly of LB Tower Hamlets) has been appointed as the new chief of the Education Endowment Fund and the first grants have now been announced. They include; funding for US style summer camps, tutoring programmes and specialist approaches to maths learning. Creative England has launched a new fund for film projects, aiming to support greater audience engagement with a diverse range of film and ensure the inclusion of screen heritage in film production.

Grants of £2,000 to £50,000 are available for organisations in the English regions outside London such as cinemas, film archives, film festivals and the non-theatrical exhibition sector (mobile cinema and film societies), for project activity including:

  • Audience development within the film exhibition sector.
  • Film education activities which are linked to and support film exhibition infrastructure e.g. cinemas, film festivals, film societies and other platforms.
  • The acquisition, preservation and conservation of and access to regional screen heritage.

Research highlights

London Councils
recently commissioned social research agency EdComs to conduct a survey of all London’s schools to gain a fuller picture of their experiences working with local authorities and their views on the current education reforms. The research covers a wide range of topics including, among others, the role of the local authority in education; the impact of academies and free schools; the pupil premium; and school capital funding. Interesting reading.

Estelle Morris

wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian about the importance of using research effectively when making policy.