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2 million school children were to benefit from a music programme in schools in 2009-2010.

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United Kingdom/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.1 Institutional overview

In the past decade, there have been a significant number of new initiatives and extra funding to promote culture and creativity and greater access to learning about the arts, film and heritage both inside and outside the classroom. To gain some understanding of the scope, chapters 8.3.1 to 8.3.5 should be read in their entirety.

In England, central government overall responsibility for primary and secondary education is part of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) (though much responsibility is devolved to local level). Responsibility for higher education falls to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), created from the merger of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has four main priorities for developing the relationship between arts and education:

  • ensure that everyone, whatever their background, gets the chance to experience and participate in the arts for the first time, both in school and outside;
  • ensure that everyone has the opportunity to deepen their interest and develop their talent in the arts to the full, to a level that suits them both in school and outside;
  • ensure that our most talented young artists have access to the very best tuition and support they need to fulfil their potential; and
  • promote a skilled workforce in the arts sector, including a world class arts workforce.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport works closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to develop the relationship between arts and education. A team has been established across the two Departments bringing together, for the first time, a range of government funded programmes in DCSF and DCMS that offer cultural experiences for children and young people. Hitherto, these programmes have been developed separately, but they share many of the same objectives to enrich children's experiences and learning as they grow up and to offer possibilities for raising aspirations and developing talent across the creative spectrum. This organisational structure also offers opportunities to build a truly cross-cultural approach and to share the learning from the different programmes.

The test bed for the cultural offer was intended to be the joint Find Your Talent programme, with GBP 24 million being invested in 10 "pathfinder" areas set up to establish the template for developing a culture offer for children and young people across the country. Find Your Talent has been piloting ways of offering five hours a week of high quality cultural experiences, both in and out of school. It sits alongside established programmes in music education, museums and galleries education and emerging programmes in youth dance. However, the Find Your Talent programme is a casualty of the funding cuts announced by the new government in 2010 and will not be extended (see chapter 8.3.2).

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families designated the period September 2009 - September 2010 a national Year of Music and called on schools and local authorities to introduce more young people to music. The ambition was to provide opportunities for more than 2 million primary level school children to learn a musical instrument by 2011.

Creative Partnerships has been the UK's flagship creative learning programme. The programme was designed to develop the skills of schoolchildren age 5-18 across England, raising their aspirations and achievements, and opening up more opportunities for their futures. More than GBP 100 million of government funds have been invested in the programme, which supports thousands of innovative, longè‘term partnerships between schools and creative professionals, including artists, performers, architects, multimedia developers and scientists. Working with Creative Partnerships, schools use creativity to solve problems and see real improvements in pupil behaviour and school performance. The programme has been delivered through a range of organisations, Area Development Teams, who administer the programme locally. Creative Partnerships has been running since 2002 and its focus for much of this time has been on disadvantaged areas of the country. Partnerships are now in place in over 11 000 schools, and the programme has delivered more than 5 000 projects to children and young people The programme is delivered through a national framework under 3 distinct programme strands: Schools of Creativity, Change Schools and Enquiry Schools.

Since April 2009, Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), has taken overall responsibility for this programme from Arts Council England (for more information visit: However, government reductions in funding have put the future of the programme in serious doubt, and Arts Council England indicated in November 2010 that the programme administrator - Creativity, Culture and Education - will have its grant cut by 50% in 2011/12.

In Scotland, the objectives of promoting access and excellence, and building on the nation's reputation for creativity, are key driver's under-pinning cultural policy. Education-based initiatives have the ability to foster early interest in culture and the Cultural Co-ordinators in Schools initiative seeks to widen the range of cultural experience available to children, and stimulate interests that they will take with them into adult life.

The UK Film Council created, with National Lottery money, First Light Movies, a scheme for 7-19 year olds across the UK that aims to foster film culture for young people from all social backgrounds by creating opportunities for them to make short films. Since it was launched in 2001, nearly 12 000 young people have participated in the initiative so far, producing over 800 films. In partnership with the Media Trust, the UK Film Council and Skillset, First Light movies produced Mediabox, a new youth initiative funded by the Department of Children, Schools and Families to help them develop and produce creative media projects, including television, film, radio and online platforms ( The UK Film Council has also funded a new project, FilmClub, which has introduced film into schools.

Chapter published: 15-04-2011

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