2022 saw the Covid-19 pandemic finally begin to fade into the background of education and employment. However, the long tail of its impact continues to affect young people and their access to high quality cultural learning. Moreover, the passing of the Covid crisis created space for the government to propose and institute policies that endanger the long term future of cultural learning in this country. Amid these challenges, we see it as a CLA responsibility to defend arts education by amplifying the voices of the sector – especially those that often go unheard.
Reporting on the state of arts education
Throughout 2022, we captured and reported the state of arts education. We detailed GCSE and A-level arts subjects entries, the number of arts teachers and their teaching hours in England. Prior to exam season, we offered an overview of changes to examination processes for arts subjects for all the major exam boards. Towards the end of the year, we offered a detailed description of how funding pressures are affecting the delivery of cultural learning in schools. However, we also shared good news, setting out how cultural learning has recently transformed some schools for the better.
We published the sixth in our series of Briefing Papers, with funding from Arts Council England, in October. Early Years & the Arts: why an arts-rich early years matters, shows the importance of arts activities at home and in early years settings.
Updates and analysis of government policy and funding
2022 was a big year for education and culture-related policy. Throughout the year we analysed the following newly announced policies and explained their relevance to the cultural learning sector:
- The Levelling Up White Paper (including changes to the geographical distribution of Arts Council England funding)
- The Schools White Paper (and its impact on arts education in schools)
- The National Plan for Music Education
- Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations for 2023-2026
We also provided briefings on new ministerial teams at the Department for Education and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We also engaged with policy announcements from the Opposition, commenting on the potential impact for cultural learning of Labour’s proposal to end tax exemption of private schools.
Supporting engagement in the policymaking process
Throughout the year, we have supported the arts and cultural learning sector to respond to calls for evidence from the government to inform their policymaking process. This has included summarising policy proposals and providing direction for responding to the Office for Students’ new indicators for measuring the impact of Higher Education and Ofqual’s consultation on the scrapping of BTECs.
Social justice and diversity
We are committed to using our position in the cultural learning space to advocate for social justice outcomes, including increasing diversity and representation. This year we also shared resources on improving representativeness in dance and drama curricula and chaired a symposium focussing on Leadership, Equity and Creativity for school leaders at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
Organisational changes to the CLA
2022 saw some organisational changes to the CLA. We welcomed a new temporary co-director, Ranjit Atwal, to support CLA in growing its communications capacity for a six-month period. Towards the end of the year, as part of a wider organisational restructure, and in advance of the CLA becoming incorporated as a charity, all our co-directors moved on from CLA. This included CLA stalwarts, Sam and Lizzie, who have been central to growing CLA’s output and influence to its current stage. We wish all of our former co-directors well and want to thank them everything they did for the CLA.
As part of our restructure, the CLA welcomed three new interim team members, in advance of determining its permanent structure:
- Baz Ramaiah, Head of Policy
- Holly Hesson, Social Media Manager
- Alison Williams-Southern, Administrative support
All of these changes will allow us to sustainably and more effectively serve our membership long into the future.
A huge thank you to all our thousands of individual and organisational members, and to our Advisory Panel and Strategy Group members for your support. We’d also like to thank members for putting in responses to calls to evidence from the government throughout the year, especially on the troubling changes to how the Office for Students will monitor the performance of Higher Education Providers.
As the Strategy Group moves to become the CLA’s first board, we look forward to recruiting for additional trustees in 2023. If you’d like to express an interest in applying for this role, please get in touch.
We lost one of our Advisory Panel dates in the autumn due to government speakers being able to participate during the period of national mourning, but this has been rescheduled for 2023 and will have a focus on the curriculum in Wales and Scotland, with government speakers from both nations. Thank you to our speakers during 2022: Sonaz Amidi, CEO & Trustee of Rosetta Arts in Newham; Leanne Buchan, Acting Assistant Director for Culture, Sport & Tourism at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council who talked about levelling up; Catherine Sutton, Head of Programme: Education at Paul Hamlyn Foundation who provided a funder’s perspective on the arts in education; and Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the RSC, who provided reflections as outgoing Chair at the start of the year.
We want to say a massive thank you to our funders. We are delighted – and hugely grateful – to have confirmed funding for CLA’s work for the next two years from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We are grateful for the continued and renewed support, and to Arts Council England for its support for our new Early Years Briefing.
Our social media presence grew throughout 2022, with us now having 13,400 followers on Twitter. This provides us with a strong platform for informing the cultural learning sector, but also for broadcasting its views to wider audiences.
The year ahead
We wish you, and all the children and young people you work with, a healthy and happy 2023!
We also ask you to 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.