5. Arts and cultural education
Last update: March, 2020
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.
Last update: March, 2020
In 2018, the Minister of Education, in line with the Culture White Paper indicated that the Government was determined that all children develop artistically because high-quality arts education should not be the preserve of the elite, but the entitlement of every child. Music, art and design, drama and dance are included in the national curriculum and compulsory in all maintained schools from the age of 5 to 14.
From 2002 until 2011, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in co-operation with the Department of Education, supported the Creative Partnerships initiative, administered by Arts Council England. With a budget of GB£ 380 million, 5000 schools, 90,000 teachers and over one million young people involved, it was the largest arts education intervention ever in the UK. The aim was to put creativity at the heart of learning and to foster relationships between schools and cultural organisations to ensure every child had access to high-quality cultural experiences. Evaluation of the initiative showed modest gains in learning outcomes, but a considerable increase in well-being of the young people. In addition, the government launched the Find Your Talent programme in 2008, which gave young people access to five hours of high-quality arts experiences every week. Unfortunately, both this programme and Creative Partnerships were discontinued due to government cutbacks.
A new initiative, the Cultural Educational Challenge, was launched in 2015 and modestly funded by Arts Council England. It encourages collaboration between sector leaders in the arts, education, local authorities, schools and higher education institutions. A key element is Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) intended to generate new ways of working. There are around 100 such partnerships which are overseen by “bridge organisations” that seek to connect the cultural and education sectors. However, a report in 2019 suggested that only one-third of LCEPs consider they have developed sufficiently to fulfil their goal of ensuring all children and young people have access to arts/culture (www.bop.co.uk).
TheDurham Commission is a two-year research initiative established by ACE in conjunction with the University of Durham to examine the role of creativity and creative thinking should play in the education of young people. It has proposed the establishment of a national network of “Creative Collaboratives” that envisages schools co-operating to establish and sustain the conditions needed for nurturing creativity. The proposal envisages a three-year pilot scheme of nine hubs, before a rollout nationally in 2023. The Commission has suggested funding could come from the Department for Education, ACE and educational trusts. Some criticisms have been expressed about the similarity with the Creative Partnerships programme referred to above, but the difference is said to be the emphasis on stimulating creativity across the curriculum and not only focussed on arts/culture-related engagements. Nevertheless, it will still be dependent on the financial and political commitment. Moreover, the Department for Education has declined to participate in that part of the Programme for International Students (PISA) dealing with the evaluation of young people’s creative engagement and expression, knowledge creation and problem solving (though it will do so for three other areas: mathematics, science and reading). The Welsh Government has also decided not to participate.
A review on music education in England for DCMS and DfE led by Darren Henley (subsequently Chief Executive of Arts Council England) led to the creation of the first ever National Plan for Music in 2011. This resulted in the creation of 123 Music Education Hubs supported by Arts Council England, with funding from the Department of Education. Music Education Hubs are groups of organisations such as schools, local authorities and community organisations that provide joined-up approaches to provide access to high-quality music education for all children and young people and thus address inconsistent provision. However, there is concern that music remains the preserve of white and middle-class young people and that non-white students, students from economically deprived backgrounds, boys and students with special educational needs remain under-represented.
A further independent review was conducted by Darren Henley for DCMS and the DfE on Cultural Education in England shortly after the National Plan for Music. Among its recommendations were that Government should develop a single National Cultural Education Plan setting out its ambitions for children and young people, with a framework that enables the ambitions to be delivered. It also recommended cross-departmental governmental co-operation on cultural education, as well as the creation of a new partnership between the arm's length cultural agencies to ensure their individual strategies cohere to build a single over-arching strategy on the issue.
Schools that show a commitment to the full range of the arts – art and design, music, dance and drama can get recognition through Artsmark, a national award by Arts Council England. The award recognises, promotes and spreads good practice on how to provide the arts in education; gives young people more opportunities to access the arts; and encourages schools, arts organisations and artists to work together.
However, in the last decade, a combination of different factors has created an environment in which arts education in schools has been increasingly ‘squeezed’ in the curriculum. One major factor for this development was the extended period ofausterity. Although ringfencing of educational budgets was introduced to ensure the continuing provision of high-quality education, there was a negative impact on arts education. Due to financial constraints, many schools cut back on arts and music lesson hours and reduced the number of specialized arts and music teachers. Unsurprisingly, it is primarily children in areas of social and economic deprivation who have been hit hardest by these changes.
Another adverse impact on arts education was seen as the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) in 2010. The EBacc is a school performance indicator linked to the General Certificate of Secondary Education. It measures students’ performance in English language and literature, maths, the sciences, geography, history and foreign languages, but excludes arts-related subjects. It has been claimed that the EBacc has a negative effect on the perceived value of arts subjects in schools and is blamed for a major fall in GCSE entries in arts subjects with a 28.1% decline since 2014, which in turn had a knock-on effect on A-level exam entries in arts subjects, which fell by 16.8% in the same period. The Government has faced mounting criticism that the E-Bacc has penalised the teaching of arts subjects as schools focus on EBacc core subjects, further reducing time for arts tuition. Moreover, performance measures that assess school education standards is also considered to have contributed to the decline in arts education, not least because of controversial inspection criteria employed by OFSTED, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. The impact for the EBacc is worst for lower-attaining students and those from underprivileged backgrounds and it has been described as detrimental to social mobility. It is feared that the long-term effect will be an insufficient number of specialist arts teachers and a skills shortage in the creative economies.
In contrast to the situation in England, arts are at the heart of the national curriculum for children aged 3 to 16 in Wales. In 2015, the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales launched the Creative Learning through the Arts action plan (see chapter5.1). ALead Creative Schools scheme is a five-year project to embed creativity in the classroom. It started with 150 schools in 2015 and there are plans to roll it out in schools all over Wales. Similar to other programmes, schools will be connected to so-called “creative agents”. These developments followed An Independent Report for the Welsh Government into Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales in 2013 which, among, other things, recommended the use of the arts in helping to deliver improved numeracy and literacy.
In 2018 a Cultural Inclusion Manifesto was agreed by arts organisations, some teachers, members of parliament and charities to drive support for making arts and education more inclusive for children and young people with disabilities. It outlines, among other things, the need for partnerships between cultural organisations and special education needs schools and organisations.
Concern for the health of arts/cultural education led to the creation of the Cultural Learning Alliance, which brings together organisations in the arts, museums, libraries, film, heritage etc. to work with the education and youth sectors to campaign for cultural education. The second edition of its report Imagine Nation in 2017 and its Key Research Findings are intended to set the agenda for a national debate on the value of cultural learning.
Last update: March, 2020
England and Wales offer a large number of university degrees related to arts, culture and heritage. These courses cover a broad spectrum which ranges from music, fine arts and creative writing to management-based degrees in the administration of culture. The degree levels range from first degree courses up to research-based PhD degrees. Not only do arts and arts-related degrees have a long history in the England and Wales, but some institutions are also world-renowned in their respective fields.
According to the Higher Education Student Statistics 2016/17, in that academic year (the latest for which data are available), 175,700 students were enrolled in arts and creative design courses in the UK, which is 7.5% of the total student population. These numbers constitute a 3% increase from the previous academic year. While this increase might seem to contradict fears that students would be less inclined to study arts subjects at degree level due to the decline of arts education in primary and secondary schools (see chapter 5.2), the full impact of the reduction in taught arts subjects in schools is yet to be felt. A majority of students in these courses are female.
In the past decade, arts courses in England have encountered a series of important obstacles, the most important of which was certainly the removal of direct government funding for arts and humanities courses from the academic year 2012/13, which forced higher education establishments to charge much higher fees in order to keep courses financially viable. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that there is a lack of incentives for universities to offer arts subjects. Arts degrees often lead to careers with low graduate salaries, which harms universities’ performance in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework. However, the so-called Russell Group of Universities (24 research-led universities) has now changed its ‘A’ level subject advice for prospective students because it was considered that its “informed choices” list had the unintended consequence of devaluing those subjects excluded such as creative and arts’ ones.
Similarly, cuts to discretionary funding by local authorities has affected some vocational courses, but some continue to be funded by central government such as the Dance and Drama Awards, which support talented students to study at institutions such as the Royal Ballet School.
The Arts Award, the first scheme to recognise the development of young artists, craftspeople and young arts and heritage leaders aged between 11 and 25, was launched in 2005. It is a qualification offered at Levels 1, 2 and 3 (Bronze, Silver and Gold) in the National Qualifications Framework. The scheme encourages young people to develop in their chosen artform or craft, to review the work of others, to make use of arts resources in their communities, to experience arts events, to share their skills and to run arts projects with others. It also enables them to explore future options in the arts including training courses and jobs. There are no entry requirements. The Award is administered by Trinity College London with the support of Arts Council England.
Although England and Wales have participated in the Bologna Process / European Higher Education Area since 1999, in comparison with other countries the extent of reform has been relatively small, due to the fact that the higher education system already had a three-tier (Bachelor-Master-PhD) system in place. In 2005 a diploma supplement was introduced. This is a document issued to students by their higher education institutions on graduation, describing the qualification they have received in a format that is easy to understand and compare, thus fostering mobility for employment in Europe. However, universities in the UK do not tend to promote themselves as Bologna-compatible, perhaps because leading universities already attract large numbers of international students. At this stage it is not known how Brexit will affect higher education establishments’ collaboration, but there are concerns that UK universities’ participation in such schemes for students’ mobility and exchanges will be seriously curtailed. More than 16,500 UK students participated in such programmes in 2016/17. After leaving the EU, the UK might pay to continue in ERASMUS and similar programmes or might endeavour to establish exchange programmes with individual countries.
Last update: March, 2020
In England and Wales, a large number of cultural institutions offer out-of-school arts education programmes. While some of the courses are free of charge, others have to be paid for, which can act as a deterrent to people of limited financial means.
In 2015, Arts Council England launched the Cultural Education Challenge, an initiative that seeks to connect local authorities, schools and cultural institutions with the aim of providing students with access to high-quality arts (see chapter 5.2).
A government supported scheme to provide stage opportunities and theatre skills for young people aged 5-18 from disadvantaged backgrounds was launched in 2019. It is led by Youth Performance Partners (see chapter 2.6).
Apart from the cultural institutions themselves, there are a number of charities and advocacy groups that either champion or provide cultural education in different arts forms. The selection below is intended to show the scope and breadth of the different projects and is by no means meant to be exhaustive. Some of the charities receive funds from Arts Council England or the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
- Youth Music funds and facilitates music-making for young people up to the age of 25, particularly those living in areas of social and economic need. It is a national charity set up in 1999 and has given 2.9 million young people the opportunity to participate in music projects since then. In Harmony is a music education project modelled on the Venezuelan El Sistema programme, which provides music lessons and instruments to children and young people.
- OneDanceUK, formerly Youth Dance England, is important in the provision of training and education opportunities. As the national sector support organisation, it provides services, information and opportunities to dance professionals and organisations, as well as children and young people who are interested in or actively engaged in dance.
- GEM (Group for Education in Museums) aims to champion learning opportunities of people of all ages through museums and heritage. It does so by supporting organisations as well as education practitioners, running its own projects and sharing best practice. Furthermore, Historic England offers free online resources for teachers and a free image database. Engage is the lead training and advocacy network for gallery education.
- Media Trust's Youth Mentoring Programme works closely with media companies, media professionals and youth organisations to help unlock young people's potential. Media Trust sets up and supports one-to-one group mentoring for disadvantaged 14 to 25-year-olds across England.
- The British Film Institute offers a variety of educational resources ranging from the provision of teaching material to hands-on training courses for young people.
Last update: March, 2020
In England and Wales, vocational training can be taken on different educational levels, starting at secondary level and going up to further education. The two most common forms of vocational training are apprenticeships and internships, although volunteering can also be used as an opportunity to gain further skills. The creative industries offer a wide of vocational training options in different areas, ranging from photography and design to music and creative writing.
Apprenticeships are a devolved policy, meaning that each of the UK nations manages their own apprenticeship programmes and training. In England, apprenticeships are delivered by an employer in collaboration with a training provider or further education college and apprentices must be employed and paid for a minimum of 30 hours a week for at least a year and a day. Apprenticeships are delivered against standards or frameworks developed by employer groups and are a relatively new phenomenon in the arts. In recent years, apprenticeships have increasingly come to be seen as a means to combat the skills shortage in the sector, which was caused by the fall in GCSE and A-level entries in creative subjects (see chapter 5.2). According to Creative and Cultural Skills (see chapter 3.5.1) apprenticeships can also help diversify the workforce as they offer an alternative route to a career in the arts for those from underprivileged backgrounds or under-represented groups.
To encourage the creation of more apprenticeships, the UK government introduced the apprenticeship levy as part of its industrial strategy in 2017. This is a tax that can be used to fund apprenticeships and companies with an annual bill of GB£ 3 million or more have to pay 0,5% tax on their total bill. A Creative Employment Programme, which was run by Creative and Cultural Skills from 2013 to 2015, contributed to the creation of 4,500 apprenticeships, paid internships and pre-employment opportunities in the arts. With a GB£ 15 million fund by the National Lottery, the programme was aimed at unemployed young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who wanted to pursue a career in the arts.
Similar to apprenticeships, internships are entry level jobs focused on expanding the intern’s skill set. What distinguishes them from apprenticeships is that that there is not necessarily a training element at an educational institution. Although internships need to be paid, unless they are part of a formal programme of study or consist exclusively of job-shadowing, a recent study by the Sutton Trust found that nearly 86% of internships in the arts are unpaid, which makes them unaffordable for middle or low-income families and thus inhibits social mobility. Members of Parliament pushed for a complete ban on unpaid internships in 2017 and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs launched an initiative to crack down on unpaid internships in 2018. Nevertheless, unpaid work is so entrenched in the various sectors such as the arts that it is to be feared that the practice will not be eradicated in the near future.
A 2019 study by the Partnership for Young London, representing more than 400 organisations , suggested that graduates were over-represented in the arts sector, with employers unnecessarily requiring degrees for applicants for entry-level roles. According to the report this closed off opportunities for young people without degrees, including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. The report recommended that young creatives without degrees should have access to a similar system of student loans and maintenance grants for apprenticeships and to start-up businesses.
The aim of the Clore Leadership Programme is to inspire and equip individuals to have a positive impact on society through great leadership of culture and to cultivate excellence, innovation, inclusivity and learning. In 2019, after 15 years of experience, it announced its intention to generate fresh perspectives on the future of cultural leadership. The Clore Leadership New Horizons programme, focussing on the challenges of early careers, was one of the beneficiaries of Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund that supports leadership development and diversity in the museums, libraries and arts sector. Another beneficiary was Jerwood Arts for a programme on the development of new creative leaders from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The Broadcast Journalism Training Council is an industry led partnership of UK broadcasters, the National Union of Journalists and Screen Skills (formerly Creative Skillset), the sector skills council for the media industries which provides accreditation for educational courses for students aspiring for a profession in journalism.