After a decade of extra funding to promote culture and creativity and greater access to learning about the arts, film and heritage both inside and outside the classroom, England entered a period of austerity, which has had adverse consequences for arts provision in schools. Together with the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), these circumstances have created what has been called a ‘perfect storm’ for arts education and led to a significant drop in children being able to engage with arts and culture in the context of their schools.
In England, overall responsibility for primary and secondary, as well as higher education and apprenticeships, at government level lies with the Department for Education (DfE), though much responsibility is devolved to local level. Furthermore, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) plays a role in championing arts education. The 2016 DCMS Culture White Paper states that ‘everyone should enjoy the opportunities culture offers, no matter where they start in life’ and sets the following priorities to achieve this:
- Culture should be an essential part of every child’s education, both in and out of school;
- There should be better access to skills development and clearer pathways for talent, where it emerges;
- Publicly funded culture should reflect the diversity of our country.
Another body that plays a role in arts education isArts Council England, in particular through its involvement in the Cultural Education Challenge, which was launched in 2015. It seeks to promote collaboration between educational institutions, cultural organisations and local authorities with the aim to provide access to quality cultural education for pupils (explored further in chapter 5.2). ACE also supports Music Education Hubs (see chapter 5.2).
Unlike England, arts education has been comparatively well funded in Wales in the last decade. For this reason, the arts are considered to be firmly embedded in the curriculum and generally children have good access to arts provision.
AtWelsh Government level it is mainly the Department for Education and the Department of Economy, Skills and Natural Resources – Culture, Sport and Tourism Division that are responsible for arts education. In addition, the Arts Council of Wales plays an important role in arts education. The Creative Learning through the Arts programme is run by the Welsh Government in partnership with the Arts Council from 2015 until 2020 and receiving GB£ 20 million over five years. It aims to: improve attainment through creativity; increase and improve arts experience and opportunities in schools; contribute to improving literacy, numeracy, and reducing the impact of disadvantage; and support teachers and arts practitioners in developing their skills. A third interim evaluation report on the programmeindicated that 63% of state schools in Wales had benefited from arts-based learning since 2015; over 900 teachers had received appropriate training and 22 arts and education collaborations were established.
In addition, ACW runs the All-Wales Arts and Education Programme, which aims to complement arts education in the curriculum by establishing links between schools and cultural institutions. The aim of the programme is to: increase and improve opportunities for teachers and learners in schools to work with artists and arts/cultural/heritage organisations; increase opportunities for young people to experience the work of Wales’s artists and arts/cultural organisations; and create more opportunities for communication and partnerships between schools, artists, arts/cultural/heritage organisations and local communities.
In 2018, theCulture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee of the National Assembly of Wales initiated an inquiry into funding for, and access to, music education (Hitting the Right Note).
The Welsh Government has launched a public consultation process on its new curriculum which introduces six broad areas of learning and experience, including expressive arts in place of a subject-based approach. This suggests how drama and dance could be used to further the study of core learning objectives.