Policy and Practice Round-up September 2016

29 September 2016

This month we bring you news from Westminster including consultations, speeches and CLA pledges in the Labour Arts policy, plus new guidance for school governors and news on the All-Wales Arts and Education Programme

News from Westminster

Schools that work for everyone consultation

You are sure to have seen in the news that the Department for Education has opened another consultation, ‘schools that work for everyone’.  It includes proposals to allow more selective schools, or grammar schools by another name.

The consultation also covers:

  • allowing faith schools to select up to 100% of students by religion
  • universities sponsoring or setting up schools in return for being allowed to charge higher fees
  • independent schools doing more to support state schools or offering more free places

There has of course been a great deal of coverage on the extension of grammar schools (for example the Telegraph, BBC and Schools Week) while Laura McInerney of @MissMcInerney fame compared them to a five sided dice trick. The Guardian has also published an article demonstrating there is no evidence that grammar schools improve outcomes for pupils.

The consultation includes the suggestion that independent schools could open up their arts facilities to other local schools who lack them. We feel strongly that schools need to provide onsite arts facilities for their pupils as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Visiting a local independent school for arts provision will only serve to further a view held by some children that the arts are exclusive and only for wealthy people.

The consultation closes on the 12 December, 2016.

Alternative Green Paper: Schools that Enable All to Thrive and Flourish

As a contrast to the government consultation, the Headteachers’ Roundtable published their alternative green paper Schools that Enable All to Thrive and Flourish on September 23. It is a good solid read and looks at solutions that could stop the narrowing of the curriculum, mainly through changing the accountability system.

Matt Hancock Minister of State for Digital and Culture speech

On the 9 September Matt Hancock Minister of State for Digital and Culture made his first speech at the BFI. You can watch or read the full speech here

The minister opened by saying that top down solutions would not work and that the arts sector needs spaces, skills and leadership. He made statements about the value of arts and culture, particularly in light of Brexit, to ensure that we stay open, positive and engaged. He talked about the business of culture and the need for a national environment of creativity, enterprise and innovation.

The need to ensure access for all was highlighted with Hancock saying that he would hold the creative sector to a higher standard and that we have a special responsibility to be open and inclusive: access to arts and culture was equated with opportunity and prosperity.

On education, Hancock talked about working with Department for Education ministers and the need for rigorous evidence. A decline in the position of arts in schools was acknowledged: however Hancock felt that it was caused by a broader set of drivers than just government policy (we’d love to know what these drivers are). He also said that evidence shows that culture supports Maths and English. He specifically mentioned talent development and linked it to the UK’s performance internationally. Universities were acknowledged as key to the cultural ecology as educators and supporters of arts organisations.

Hancock also confirmed that the Heritage brief will sit with Tracy Crouch.

CLA manifesto in the new Labour arts policy

Jeremy Corbyn launched his Arts policy at the Edinburgh Fringe on 26 August August with a series of pledges taken from the CLA Manifesto including an arts pupil premium for primary schools and looking at the inclusion of dance and drama as curriculum subjects in their own right. You can read the Telegraph, Guardian and BBC’s coverage of the strategy.


Dance education guide for school governors launched

One Dance UK, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Governor’s Association, has produced Dance Education: A Guide for Governor’s and Trustees. The guide includes key questions to ask and advice on values, teaching, opportunities and resources.  This joins other guides for governors on cultural education and music which can be downloaded from Arts Council England.


All Wales Arts and Education Programme adds another 148 schools

We’re excited to see that another 148 schools have joined the Lead Creative Schools programme in Wales, part of the the Arts Council of Wales Creative Learning Through the Arts action plan. If you are in Wales and haven’t joined in yet, Round 3 Applications for Lead Creative Schools will be open from 6 October.

If your school isn’t a Lead Creative School you can apply for funding for creative collaborations. This is up to £25,000 for schools to work in a sustained way with cultural organisations. The next deadline is the 17 October. Read more here.