The Cultural Learning Alliance: What we did in 2015

01 January 2016

As we get stuck into 2016 we take our annual glance back at what we did together in 2015.

Party political manifestos and lobbying

We have continued to strengthen our relationships with colleagues across the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and provided information to all three main parties as part of their manifesto writing process for the 2015 election:

  • We are regular attendees of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design, and have held meetings, sent briefings or had dialogue with:
    • Schools Minister, Nick Gibb,
    • Jo Johnson MP at the Number 10 Policy Unit
    • Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communication and the Creative Industries
    • Sajid Javid MP, when Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport
    • Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke
    • Ed Milliband MP, former Leader of the Labour Party
    • Harriet Harman MP, former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and former Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – and Special Advisors
    • Tristram Hunt, when Shadow Secretary of State for Education
    • David Laws MP,  Minister of State for Schools –  and Special Advisors
  • We also briefed five of the members the House of Lords speaking in a debate on the importance of arts education – working particularly closely with the Earl of Clancarty and Baroness Kidron.
  • We are providing support for the Department of Culture Media and Sport White Paper due to be published in 2016,  and ran the children and young people’s consultation roundtable for the White Paper in December 2015.

Evidence, consultations presentations and research

The CLA made presentations to Arts Council Bridge Organisations, the Youth Dance Programme Board, the SSAT, engage, and the Westminster Education Forum.

We also made submissions to the Warwick Commission, many of which were incorporated within the final Commission report in April 2015. We continued our strong working relationships with the subject specialist associations working in the arts, with What Next?, with the Cultural Campaigning Network, and with the Creative Industries Federation.

In 2015 we have made submissions to the Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training, to Ofqual on the structure and assessment of GCSE and A-level qualifications, and to OFSTED.


Together with Nesta and Arts Council England, we have been at the forefront of a national drive to influence the government’s prioritisation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), pushing for the Arts to be included in the associated resourcing, narrative and infrastructure.

To drive this work in 2014 we had produced a research paper to highlight the main activity and drivers for STEAM in the UK, drawing evidence and information from colleagues working on the agenda here and in the US. This paper was shared with key individuals and organisations and was the basis for partnership working and dialogue with a range of specialist organisations including My Science, the Wellcome Trust and the British Science Association. 

On 28 October 2015 we ran a STEAM Hack involving 40 artists, scientists and teachers working overnight at the Science Museum to create tangible, teachable resources for schools, and to think through the policy levers that could be used to make change happen.  They engaged with specialists and expert colleagues from NASA and the Rhode Island School of Design, Nesta and Creative Skillset. At the end of the Hack, participants presented their ideas to a wider audience of 70+ and an expert panel. The event was sponsored by the Bowland Trust, Creative Skillset, Arts Council England and supported by the Science Museum.


The CLA website has been visited by 17,000 unique users this year, and we have written and published more than 30 articles.

We have almost 10,000 members signed up to the CLA, and we send our regular newsletter to 4,000 subscribers. We have more than 7,000 followers on Twitter. 

Looking forward

In 2016 our priorities will continue to be compiling evidence on what is happening to cultural learning in schools and the value of an arts rich education as well as continuing to talk to government about the impact of their decisions on children’s access to the arts.

A huge thank you to all of you; steering group, advisory group and wider members who have worked with us this year, writing to your MPs, disseminating our briefings, taking part in roundtables and contributing your knowledge and expertise in a myriad of ways. We couldn’t have achieved any of the above without you.