Policy & Practice round-up December 2021

15 December 2021

This month we bring you news of a three-year extension to Wales’ Creative Learning Through the Arts programme; a new report from the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education; Representation in the curriculum Drama resources; a call out to global majority artists or dance companies to contribute to a Dance resource for teachers; and a National Drama survey showing that Covid has had significant impact on Drama education.

Three-year extension to Creative Learning Through the Arts in Wales

Many of you will know that from September 2022 Wales will have a new Curriculum, in which arts and creativity are firmly embedded. As further evidence of their commitment to an arts-rich education the Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales have announced an extension to Creative learning through the arts – an action plan for Wales, until March 2025.

The programme supports schools to embed the arts in their curriculum through a Lead Creative School programme and the two strands of the All-Wales Arts and Education Offer: Regional Arts and Education Networks and the Experiencing the Arts Fund. 84% of schools in Wales have engaged in the programme since its launch in 2015.

Read more about the programme.

UNESCO Reimagining report highlights importance of the arts in education

In November the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education published Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education. Two years in the making, and informed by a global consultation process engaging around one million people, the report invites us to join a conversation about how we forge a new social contract for education that will help us collectively build peaceful, just, and sustainable futures for all.

The report acknowledges the ‘power of education to bring about profound change’ and ‘the transformational potential of education as a route for sustainable collective futures.’ It argues that in the context of the climate emergency and Covid pandemic we need a new social contract for education to deliver this change.

In Chapter 4, titled Curricula and the evolving knowledge commons, the report sets out the need for a new relationship ‘between education and the knowledge, capabilities, and values that it cultivates’ and specifically mentions the important role of arts education in helping students deal with multiple viewpoints and uncertainty, as well as supporting skills development and social emotional learning:

Education in the arts – music, drama, dance, design, visual arts, literature, poetry and more – can greatly expand students’ capacities to master complex skills and can support social and emotional learning across the curriculum. … Curricula that invite creative expression through the arts have tremendous future-shaping potential.‘

Read the full report on the UNESCO website

Representation in the curriculum: Drama resources

RinD (Representation in Drama), a London Theatre Consortium initiative, has supported the exam board Pearson with the introduction of four new set texts to their GCSE examination list. These texts are Antigone by Roy Williams, A Doll’s House by Tanika Gupta, Gone too Far by Bola Agbaje and The Free9 by In–Sook Chappell.

RinD has created a set of resources alongside this work to ensure better representation and inclusion on exam board specifications. Filmed resources have been made with the original producing theatres (Lyric Hammersmith, National Theatre, Pilot Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East) in partnership with TEAfilms: find the film on London Theatre Consortium - YouTube. RinD has also created a list of 150 plays by writers from the global majority with designer Kunmi Ogunsola.

Global majority artist or dance company? Contribute to a Dance resource for teachers

The Decolonising the Dance Curriculum roundtable is helping collate resources for dance teachers to improve representation and create positive change in dance education. If you are a global majority artist or dance company and have dance works for study in schools; teach workshops; use authentic music; or offer CPD, you can have them added to the resource list: here.

National Drama survey: Covid has significant impact on Drama education

In July 2021 National Drama, the subject specialist association for Drama, conducted an online survey of secondary Drama teachers to look at the impact of the pandemic on secondary Drama teaching. Findings out on 13 December, based on responses from 119 secondary Drama teachers, suggest the pandemic has had a ‘significant impact’ on Drama education overall. Over half of teachers have had access to specialist teaching spaces cut, and a third reported GCSE options choices narrowing. Teachers reported a lack of confidence, increased anxiety, a lack of skill development and a reticence to perform in Drama students, and a drop in students taking the subject further to GCSE or A Level since the pandemic. Read the full report.