Policy and practice round-up: review of arms-length bodies, ‘free schools’, Arts Council Consultation findings, CASE publication, Ed Vaizey and The Big Link Up

20 August 2010

Last month the review of DCMS arms-length bodies announced that 55 non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are set to be merged, abolished or streamlined. This included the abolishment of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the UK Film Council. This will have a huge impact on work across the sector, and very significant implications for cultural learning.

At the CLA we are keen to see how the influence and power of the work of the MLA and the UK Film Council will be taken forward. Initiatives such as the Strategic Commissioning Programme run by the MLA and the 21st Century Literacy Strategy for Film Education in Schools have made invaluable contributions to the lives of children and young people across the country. We urge policy makers to recognise the value of these and other cultural learning projects and ensure that they are made sustainable and have a lasting legacy.There is a possibility that the new 'free school' agenda may offer new opportunities and new ways for arts and cultural organisations to contribute to education. Parents, community groups and organisations across the country are beginning to respond to this new initiative. Notable hats in the ring this month have included those of the Premier League, who are reported to be considering developing schools which allow them to nurture footballing talent, and a parent group in York who plan to “use our local environment, historic buildings, places of worship, farms, industry, universities, art galleries and studios, theatres and museums to deliver exciting, interactive learning”. Cultural organisations should be able to find out what is happening near them by talking to their local authority or contacting the New Schools Network.Last week the Arts Council published the response to their Achieving Great Art for Everyone consultation. People who responded to the consultation think that it's important:

  • for the Arts Council to focus on children and young people.
  • that the Arts Council should ensure that all children develop an interest in the arts.
  • that the Arts Council should encourage more and better collaboration between schools and practising artists.
You can read the full report here: Do you agree with the respondents? Let us know - DCMS have published some of the findings of their CASE (Culture and Sport Evidence) programme. The CASE programme board commissioned a fundamental review and analysis of available research and data relating to participation in and engagement with culture.The resulting report is full of hard evidence that we can deploy to make the case for cultural learning. The key findings are the concrete, measurable benefits that flow to young people who participate in what the report calls 'structured' arts activities. The analysis carried out suggests that – all other things being equal – these young people could increase their academic attainment scores by 1% to 2%; their cognitive abilities test scores by 16% to 19%; and their transferable skills test scores by 10% to 17%, as compared to the performance of young people who don't participate. The full report is available here.Last week the CLA met with Ed Vaizey to talk through all things related to cultural learning and to ask him to attend our November event launching The Big Link Up, our new initiative designed to get local and national partners debating and celebrating the value of cultural learning to the lives of children and young people. He agreed to get involved and you should too - follow the link to find out how you can host your own Big Link Up