What we did in 2019

14 January 2020

Welcome to our annual round-up of CLA activity.

2019 saw Brexit continue to dominate our political life, an election, a new government, two different education ministers and three different arts ministers in post. We expect 2020 to hold similar upheavals for the arts and education sectors.

We spent 2019 continuing to champion the right to arts and culture for every child, with social justice as a key driver of our work. We assembled and published a range of evidence, produced written commentaries on policy and on the state of the arts in England’s schools (see our GCSE and teaching hours analysis), and provided support for our members.

We looked back at the last 20 years of arts education policy in our blog Cultural Learning in England: 20 years of policy, tracking the changing landscape and different initiatives, analysing what has worked and what has disappeared over the first two decades of the 21st Century.

September 2019 saw the introduction of Cultural Capital to the Ofsted inspection framework for schools. Our What is cultural capital? blog has had more than 20,000 views, making it our most popular post this year. Colleagues across the arts sector have reported increased interest from schools in working with them to deliver the new Ofsted requirement for all schools to equip ‘pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’.

In May the Russell Group of 24 universities scrapped facilitating subjects, and the Department for Education (DfE) quietly changed their linked EBacc advice. The DfE had used facilitating subjects as their rationale for picking the subjects included in the EBacc.

In October the Durham Commission published recommendations on promoting creativity in education in England for children and young people including calls for a National Plan for Cultural Education, the inclusion of arts subjects as standard at KS3 and the development of the cultural education workforce.


As well as our blogs on Cultural Capital and the last 20 years of cultural learning policy, we published the 5th in our series of Briefing Papers, The Arts for Every Child; Why arts education is a social justice issue.

Social justice is the key prism through which we view our work championing children’s access to arts and culture. The evidence is clear that children who get to engage in the arts are happier, healthier, do better in school and are more likely to vote and go to university as adults. It cannot be right that who your parents are, or where you live affects your chances of getting an arts rich education.

So far 2,500 of you have downloaded the The Arts for Every Child Briefing, and members continue to share downloads of our other Briefing Papers Employability and Enterprise, The Arts, Health and Wellbeing, STEAM, and The Arts in Schools.


We published advice on making the case for cultural learning for the December election, and published our own three key asks for the manifestos:

  1. A National Plan for cultural learning
  2. An Arts Premium giving children universal access to quality arts provision
  3. Continuing Professional Development & Learning blueprint for teachers and the cultural learning workforce

We were very pleased that that the Conservative and Labour manifestos both included the Arts Premium. The Conservative commitment was for a secondary level premium, the Labour for a primary level.

Policy analysis

We published analysis of the following:

We  kept members up to date on the Arts Council England 2020-2030 Strategy, evidence and consultation activities, and on Ofsted’s consultation for the new September 2019 inspection framework. The Ofsted consultation closed in April and we hosted a roundtable for Ofsted, supported our members to respond to the consultation, and also submitted our own response.


We were delighted to speak at a range of conferences and events, including Cornwall Museums Engagement Network, Rothschild Foundation Creative Explorers event, Westminster Media Forum on the Creative Industries, Thriving Child Conference, Curious Minds Bridge School Arts Festival, and for Ukadia Board, as well as guest blogging for Creative Generation.

CPDL Roundtable

In September we were delighted to host a roundtable with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and colleagues from the education and arts sectors, on the professional development and learning needs of teachers and arts education professionals. Results of this roundtable fed in to our November 2019 Manifesto key asks. Look out for further work in this area in 2020.

Social media

We end the year with more than 10,000 twitter followers, and were pleased to welcome over 1,000 of you this year. Do follow us if you don’t already: @CultureLearning.


In May we appointed a new Chair of our Strategy Group. Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the RSC, who has been with us from the outset, succeeded Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music. We would like to thank Matt for all his hard work on the CLA’s behalf. He remains a valued Strategy Group Member. And we would like to thank Jacqui for the energy and commitment that she has already brought to the role.


A huge thank you to all our thousands of individual and organisational members for your support. Thank you for sharing information, for talking to your MPs and councillors, and for working with schools and local arts organisations to ensure that children and young people have access to the arts.

Big thanks also to our funders, including the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Clore Duffield Foundation.


We look forward to 2020 and will be focusing our activity on:

  • Working for a Secondary Art Premium that meets the needs of children and teachers, including support for primary level.
  • Compiling the evidence to answering the questions: does where children live affect their access to the arts, and is there a correlation between disadvantage and children’s access to the arts?
  • Developing a clear blueprint of what is needed for professional development of teachers and arts education professionals.

Wishing you, and all the young people you work with, a very happy 2020.

P.S. Please tell your colleagues and friends about the Cultural Learning Alliance and encourage them to join. Every member adds weight to our call for children and young people to have access to high quality arts and culture in their lives.