Policy and Practice Round-Up September 2011

04 September 2011

This month we bring you a quick round-up of: free schools, the Teaching Agency, a survey on creative skills, cuts and funding opportunities, and current government consultations where you can make the case for cultural learning.

Free schools

The first free schools open their doors to pupils this week, with much publicity and scrutiny from the press. You can read articles from the BBC, the Independent (which includes a full list of all schools) and the Evening Standard.

More changes to the learning world
Following on from our last post, which outlined new plans for an Education Funding Agency, and a Standards and Testing Agency, another new Department of Education executive agency is currently in formulation: the Teaching Agency. This will take on all responsibility for training and regulation for: teachers and instructors, all early years workers, classroom-based school support staff, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs), educational psychologists and examination officers. These three bodies will take their place alongside the National College of School Leadership as the main delivery agencies for the DfE.

To start the new term the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) has changed its name and will now be known as The Schools Network. You can read more about it on their website.

Creative Industries: What skills do our young people need?

The Creative Industries Council Skillset Skills Group has been convened by Skillset and tasked by DCMS, BIS and the Creative Industries Council to examine the skills issues facing the UK's creative industries. They are currently asking questions about education and progression routes for young people and are asking stakeholders to respond to this survey by 23 September.

Bridge organisations

Across the country, the ten Arts Council England ‘Bridge Organisations’ are starting to shape their new role. ACE has drafted this briefing, which gives more detail on how the Bridges will operate.

Cuts and cash

Last week Children and Young People Now published an article on the plight of many of the newly-built MyPlace centres. These are facilities for young people's activities, often including culture. Many of these centres are facing revenue shortfalls. The evaluation of the project, undertaken by the University of Durham, YMCA George Williams College and others, interrogates innovative models of revenue generation, particularly local businesses. We were really interested to note that the arts were seen as a real strength, with the report suggesting that activities such as youth theatre can help attract young people in the long term and boost revenue.

The Big Lottery Fund has just launched a new fund for community enterprise in rural areas: The Village SOS Competition will give around 250 awards of between £10,000 and £30,000 to kick start community businesses. Could be an opportunity for the cultural and creative sector?

Current consultations

As ever, there is a flood of central Government consultations this month, but three that you should consider responding to if you haven't already are Opening Public Services, Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and The 14-16 Qualifications and Performance Tables.

All these have deadlines of 30 September and the CLA will, as ever, be responding to each on behalf of the sector.

The Opening Public Services White Paper lays out plans for localism and for communities and individuals to have more power over the commissioning and running of the services they use. It sets out the Government’s approach to public services by applying five key principles to provide people with the best possible services for the money spent:

  • Choice: ‘wherever possible government will increase choice’
  • Decentralisation: ‘power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level’
  • Diversity: ‘public services should be open to a range of providers’
  • Fairness: ‘government will ensure fair access to public services’
  • Accountability: ‘public services should be accountable to users and taxpayers’

There are some good summaries on the web from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and CIPFA.

To comment on the ideas in the paper and put forward your thoughts on the arts and culture, you will need to go this website:

The Government claims that the new Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum will be slimmed down, and will focus on three prime areas of learning: personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language. Good news for cultural learning is that these areas of learning will be underpinned by the expressive arts.

Let the DfE know your thoughts here.

Earlier this year we laid out the content of the Wolf Review of 14-19 Qualifications. If you missed the summary, you can read it here. The government adopted all the recommendations and are now consulting on which qualifications should retain their league-table points or status. This is a critical issue for the arts subjects as it is likely that the current trend to cut arts in favour of EBacc subjects will grow if contribution to Performance Tables is not maintained.

Champion the arts and culture by filling in this form and sending it to the DfE.

If you have any burning thoughts on any of these issues that you would like incorporated in the CLA response then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch at