Cultural education

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An independent review by Darren Henley

for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education



5.0 A NEW STRATEGY page 29
8.0 THE WORKFORCE page 47


1.1 This independent review of Cultural Education in England follows on from the independent review of Music Education in England, which I undertook towards the end of 2010, at the request of the Secretary of State for Education and the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

1.2 Once again, I start my Review with a strong declaration of interest. I believe that all children can and should benefit from receiving a wide-ranging, adventurous and creative Cultural Education. For many young people, cultural activities form a vital part of their everyday lives. These activities are academically, physically and socially enriching, whether they take place in-school or out-of-school.

1.3 The skills which young people learn from studying Cultural Education subjects help to ensure that the UK has over many years built up a Creative and Cultural Industries sector which is, in many areas, world-beating. There is a clear message from the Creative and Cultural Industries that the education which children and young people receive in school in Creative and Cultural subjects has a direct bearing on feeding into the talent pool for those who take up employment in this sector.

1.4 Sustained investment in providing young people with an excellent Cultural Education should form a key pillar of the government’s strategy for the long-term growth of our Creative and Cultural Industries, both at a national and international level. It is vitally important that there is continued investment in giving the next generation of creative practitioners the tools and training necessary for the UK to continue its position of pre-eminence.

1.5 The scope of this Review is far wider than my previous work, which concentrated on one single subject. For the purposes of this Review, Cultural Education includes: archaeology, architecture and the built environment, archives, craft, dance, design, digital arts, drama and theatre, film and cinemas, galleries, heritage, libraries, literature, live performance, museums, music, poetry and the visual arts. Throughout this document, I use terms such as ‘Cultural Education’, ‘Cultural subjects’ and ‘Cultural practitioners’. No inference should be made from my choice of descriptor at any given moment during the report. By using these umbrella terms, it is my intention to include all of the individual areas listed above. On occasions, I give examples taken from individual areas of my remit. Again, no inference should be made from my choice of examples, which is not intended to convey the relative importance of any one art form or discipline over any other. To read any such meaning into my words would be wholly incorrect.

1.6 As I undertook a very detailed Review of Music Education in England only a few months ago, I do not propose to revisit this area in great depth in this new Review, which should be seen as a companion document. However, it should be noted that music remains an integral part of the overall Cultural Education offer. Music Education in England can be downloaded here:

with the government’s response available here:

1.7 I am grateful for the very encouraging response to the publication of my first Review both from individuals and organisations involved in delivering Music Education and from the government, which has recently published the first National Plan for Music Education in England, as a direct result of one of the recommendations in my original Review. I look forward to seeing the continued development of many of the ideas outlined in the Review over the coming months. The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music Education can be downloaded here:

1.8 The recent Schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching, published by the Department for Education, stated that ‘Children should expect to be given a rich menu of cultural experiences’. In the next few pages, I hope to make the case for ensuring that all children and young people in England, no matter what their background, circumstances or location, receive the highest quality Cultural Education both in school and out of school, in formal and in informal settings. I will set out why I believe the receipt of an excellent education in cultural subjects is in itself intrinsically valuable for children and young people. The vision for Cultural Education in England, which I outline as a result of this Review, embraces the gaining of knowledge, the development of understanding and the acquisition of skills. To be clear from the outset, I do not believe that there is a need for anyone to be apologetic about children and young people learning about culture and taking part in cultural activities as a highly valuable part of their rounded education. While they are learning, many children and young people will also discover the sheer enjoyment of taking part in cultural activities, whether that is as an active participant or as a more passive consumer. As well as developing the argument for the rich provision of Cultural Education both in school and out-of-school, this report goes on to describe the structural and funding changes, which I believe are required to make this vision a reality.

1.9 As with my Review of Music Education, I am not working to a budget given to me by the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Having said that, I remain mindful of the restrictions on government spending, so I have tried to ensure that my recommendations are pragmatic, both in terms of government’s ability to deliver them and in terms of their potential financing. I remain convinced that none of my recommendations should be beyond the realms of budgetary possibilities for the two government departments.

1.10 Just as I did with my Review of Music Education, I have relied heavily on a huge number of people who have shared with me their own experiences and expertise in the area of Cultural Education and I owe them a great debt of gratitude in helping me to complete this Review. It has been a journey of discovery for me personally and without the detailed written responses from 654 individuals and organisations, the Review would have been nowhere near as well informed or as all encompassing. I would particularly like to take this opportunity to thank the 121 people, who discussed parts of this Review with me in person, and the further large group of individuals who made a significant contribution through roundtable discussions. Their knowledge was invaluable in helping me along the journey towards my final recommendations to government. A full list of these individuals and organisations can be found in Annexes 3, 4 and 5.

1.11 As with any document of this nature, I know that not everyone who took part in making written or verbal submissions to the Review will welcome or agree with every part of what I have to say. However, I want to assure them that I have personally read the written submissions and I have listened hard and reflected upon all of the verbal evidence sessions.

1.12 I would like to place on record my very sincere thanks to the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP, for asking me to undertake this Review on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education. The fact that this Review has taken place at all is down to his personal recognition of the importance of Cultural Education and his passion for the subject. I would also like to thank the Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP and the Secretary of State for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP for their invaluable support for the Review. During the course of preparing this document, I have also held very productive meetings with the Tourism and Heritage Minister, John Penrose MP, and the Schools Ministers, Nick Gibb MP and Lord Hill of Oareford. All have been very generous with their time and very open and receptive in the discussions which we held. I am also grateful to the Co-Chairs of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the Rt Hon Don Foster MP and Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury for the benefit of their advice and encouragement in an area in which they both have considerable experience. I am very hopeful that the supportive meetings, which I have held with members of both parties in the coalition, are an indicator that the government’s response to the recommendations contained within this Review will be both speedy and positive.

1.13 I have received a great deal of help and advice from officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and at the Department for Education during the course of undertaking this Review. I am particularly grateful to Kirsty Leith from the DCMS, who has guided me throughout the Review with great insight and good humour. Among her colleagues at the DCMS, I would also like to express my thanks to: Clare Pillman, Paul Kirkman, Helen Williams, Chris Atkins, Dilnaaz Kazi, Laura Rigby, Becky Guiblin, Peter Karpinski, Nick Cady, Steve Darke, Wendy Shales, Abby Smith, Keith Nichol, James Stevens, Harriet Buxton, David Gookey, Steven Edwards, Hugh Muckian, Craig Westwood, Jas Kaur and Leonie Philips. At the Department for Education, I would like to express my thanks to: David Russell, Jenny Loosley, Andy Tyerman, Angela Ruggles, Chris Carraro, Barbara Tucker, Shanti Rebello and Paul McDonald.

1.14 I am also grateful to Arts Council England, the Big Lottery Fund, the British Film Institute, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund for all of the assistance that senior staff of these organisations have afforded me during the past few months.

1.15 Once the government’s response is published, I would encourage all of those individuals and organisations involved in every aspect of Cultural Education to work together in partnership with local and national government to help to build on the aspects of the system that currently work well; to be unafraid to change the things that are failing or could be done better; and to ensure that the largest amount of money possible is invested directly for the benefit of children and young people.

1.16 I have been given no guarantees whatsoever that the conclusions of this independent Review will automatically become the coalition government’s policy. However, I am hopeful that the government will be able to adopt many, if not all, of the recommendations in the following pages.

1.17 Throughout the evidence sessions, which I have undertaken during the process of writing this Review, I have been struck time and time again by the passion for Cultural Education from those people working in the sector. I believe that the best possible outcome for this Review would be the creation of a Cultural Education system that is truly the envy of the world. This will be achieved by building on past successes; by gaining a deep understanding of what does and does not work today; by developing a meaningful vision for what the future should hold; by making best use of exciting developments in new technology; and by government, funders and other public sector, private sector and voluntary organisations working together for the common good. The true test of this will be whether we can create a generation of young people whom we have enabled to achieve their full potential in this area. There is already so much that we are doing right in Cultural Education in England. I very much hope that, as a result of this Review, the coalition government, local government, the lottery funders and sponsored bodies seize the initiative and commit to building on the firm foundations which already exist.

2.1 There is a wealth of Cultural Education being offered to children and young people across England. The world of Cultural Education is driven by partnership, with government departments, non-departmental government bodies, the National Lottery, local authorities, schools, cultural organisations, voluntary organisations, the creative and cultural industries, conservation practitioners, business sponsors, charities and philanthropists all contributing.

2.2 This partnership-driven ecology greatly benefits children. The job of this Review is to build on the achievements that are already being made, while at the same time making suggestions about how Cultural Education in England could be made even better.

2.3 Schools remain the single most important place where children learn about Cultural Education. This takes the form of structured curriculum lessons in subjects such as history, English literature, art and design, design technology, drama, dance, film studies and music, alongside programmes of after school activities for children who wish to pursue a passion for a particular art form.

2.4 The best performing schools bring Cultural Education practitioners into schools, alongside classroom teachers, to share their knowledge with pupils. These include artists, designers, historians, writers, poets, actors, musicians, curators, archivists, film-makers, dancers, librarians, architects and digital arts practitioners. Many of these in-school experiences are provided by cultural organisations, who have dedicated education departments, or by private sector companies from within the Creative and Cultural Industries.

2.5 While it remains of paramount importance to ensure that schools provide safe environments within which children can learn, I am concerned that an over emphasis on repetitive and costly CRB checks for practitioners working in schools can dissuade schools from engaging with this outside expertise. Proposals to simplify this area of regulation are to be welcomed.

2.6 Cultural organisations and venues (such as museums, galleries, concert halls, theatres, cinemas and heritage sites) offer children and young people the opportunity to visit places of specific interest, which can deepen their understanding of the world around them and provide fresh insight into their studies.

2.7 Funders such as Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund are important drivers in making Cultural Education available to young people. Their investment can be directed very effectively towards making a real difference on both a national and local level, although currently there is an absence of strategic oversight of how this money is being spent in its totality.

2.8 Local Authorities have a vitally important role to play in ensuring the lives of young people in their area are enriched with cultural activities and this should never be underestimated. Part of the patchiness that is evident in the delivery of Cultural Education in England is due to varying levels of prioritisation of culture by different Local Authorities across the country. Although the demands on Local Authority funding are currently under pressure from many different directions, the provision of locally funded Cultural Education should be recognised as being extremely important to both large and small communities everywhere in England.

2.9 Many schools are now moving out of direct Local Authority funding to become Academies or Free Schools. It is important that children and young people continue to be able to access a high standard of Cultural Education in their local areas throughout this period of change. I would encourage Headteachers and Governors of Academies and Free Schools to work closely with Cultural Education providers in their area, including Local Authorities, to ensure that this continues to be the case.

2.10 The role of voluntary organisations and volunteers in providing aspects of Cultural Education is a vital part of the ecology. Many voluntary groups give children and young people the opportunity to perform, to create and to learn about a variety of aspects of culture. An important part of this experiential learning takes place in more informal youth settings (such as youth clubs). In sectors such as Heritage and Museums and Galleries, much valuable learning is passed on to young people from organisations which are largely staffed by knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers, many of whom have developed great expertise in their chosen area. In schools themselves, voluntary projects, which bring adults into schools, to help, for example with developing reading skills, provide a valuable service to young people, alongside the work of classroom teachers. There are a multitude of fine examples of the Big Society in action across the Cultural Education world. This should be both recognised and celebrated.

2.11 Charities also perform an important role in this sector, with the vast majority of publicly funded cultural organisations holding charitable status. The role of philanthropists in providing funding for education projects is significant and this area is likely to benefit from any initiatives introduced by the government to encourage further charitable giving. There are a number of major forces for good in this area, operating as charitable trusts, such as the Clore Duffield Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, both of which have made a significant and sustained contribution to Cultural Education in England.

2.12 In recent years, many arts and heritage organisations (such as festivals, galleries, orchestras and venues) have developed outreach and audience development projects, which involve children and young people with their work in a sustained and meaningful way. This happens both with those organisations that are publicly funded and also in many cases with those organisations that do not receive public funding but, nevertheless, choose to make this a part of their work.

2.13 The Cultural Olympiad, which has been taking place in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, contains many fine examples of cultural programmes, which will actively engage children and young people. These include Tate Movie Project’s The Itch of the Golden Nit, created by thousands of children across the UK; and Film Nation Shorts, a project giving 14-25 year olds the chance to make films celebrating the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There are many, many more fantastic examples, which I could have chosen to illustrate this point.

2.14 The Creative and Cultural Industries also play an important part in funding specific Cultural Education projects, with commercial theatre, music promoters, record companies, hardware manufacturers, digital media specialists, film production companies, film distributors and exhibitors, retailers, radio and television broadcasters, architects, conservation practices and music and book publishers all playing a significant role in delivering aspects of Cultural Education. This important contribution should be widely acknowledged for the value it brings. There can sometimes be a tendency for private sector initiatives to be forgotten, with focus often shifting to publicly funded projects. However, many of the Cultural Education projects funded by the Creative and Cultural Industries either directly, or indirectly via sponsorship, form a central part of the overall Cultural Education picture. I note that many of the private companies from a number of different areas of the Creative and Cultural Industries, whom I have consulted, stressed that there was a real value for them in working on programmes that were directly tied to the school curriculum, rather than those which were seen as add-on extras. This should be borne in mind in the development of any future initiatives by government where private sector organisations form part of the funding mix.

2.15 Cultural Education is also delivered by privately owned providers in areas such as music, dance and drama. Much of this provision is of a high standard and helps children and young people to develop a passion for taking part in cultural activities. There is a relationship between children’s membership of these groups and the ability of their parents to afford to pay. This particular sector of Cultural Education tends not to be as available to young people from economically challenging backgrounds.

2.16 New technological developments mean that it is easier for young people themselves to make a significant contribution to the cultural lives of people of all ages. Access to the digital world makes it more straightforward for young people to engage, create and critique products, events and activities being created both on their own doorsteps and around the world. This technology is developing and changing all the time and it is important that everyone involved in Cultural Education ensures that what young people learn remains relevant to the world around them.

3.1 There are a myriad of different reasons why every child in England should receive the best possible Cultural Education. I have already mentioned some of the key factors in the introduction to this Review; others I will expand upon later. In this chapter, I will concentrate on three particular sets of benefits of Cultural Education:

  • The direct educational benefits to children through the acquisition of knowledge and skills from Cultural Education subjects.

  • The additional benefits to the Creative and Cultural Industries and the wider economy of providing children with an excellent Cultural Education that in turn creates the workforce of the future, helping to drive forward the UK’s growth agenda.

  • The wider benefits to our society as a whole of developing an understanding of our common cultural heritage.

3.2 At its best, a sound Cultural Education should allow children to gain knowledge through the learning of facts; understanding through the development of their critical faculties and skills through the opportunity to practise specific art forms. Involvement with cultural activities, whether as an active participant (creating a piece of art or craft, reading a book, making a short film) or actively experiencing an event or place (visiting a heritage site, gallery or museum, seeing how a building works, watching a music, dance, or film performance) can be habit forming for the rest of a young person’s life.

3.3 However, it should be noted that the quality of the interaction is of utmost importance. A poor experience during childhood could risk putting a child off future similar cultural activities into adulthood. So, it remains vitally important that all interactions that children and young people have in this area are of high quality, particularly if they are experiencing a specific area of culture for the very first time. It is equally important that there is a common understanding of exactly what excellence in the delivery of Cultural Education means; a subject to which I will return later. It should also be noted that, for much the same reason, it is essential that the experiences to which children are introduced are appropriate for their age. At the right time in a child’s development, a particular cultural activity could excite and invigorate them; if it happens too early or too late in their learning development, there is a risk that it could leave them either bewildered or bored.

3.4 In his letter asking me to undertake this Review, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP, wrote:

Government recognises the important contribution that our great cultural institutions make to education and intends to support access to and appreciation of the arts and culture’.

Public funding should be used primarily to meet the government priorities of every child having a solid cultural education’.

3.5 The Importance of Teaching, the Schools White Paper published in 2010, made clear reference to the value of Cultural Education in schools and to this Review:

Children should expect to be given a rich menu of cultural experiences. So we have commissioned Darren Henley to explore how we can improve music education and have more children learning to play an instrument. The Henley Review will also inform our broader approach to cultural education. We will support access to live theatre, encourage the appreciation of the visual and plastic arts and work with our great museums and libraries to support their educational mission’.

3.6 I warmly welcome this clear and unambiguous statement of intent from the coalition government. It is unquestionably true that Cultural subjects such as art and design, design technology, dance, drama, film studies, music, history and English literature form a vital part of any child’s education. However, there is a growing concern that, with the exception of the latter two subjects, this area of education is no longer valued as much as it once was in our schools or in Further or Higher Education. I would encourage ministers in the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport swiftly to take action as a result of this Review to show that these concerns are misplaced.

3.7 Although this Review is by no means solely focused on Cultural Education within schools, school will inevitably form the most significant part of a child’s education. This is particularly the case with children who come from the most deprived backgrounds. In these instances, many of their parents and carers may themselves not have been lucky enough to benefit from a wide-ranging Cultural Education. There is therefore a gap in understanding and experience among the influential adults in these children’s lives. More needs to be done to ensure that the value of cultural activities and experiences for everyone, no matter what their background, is widely understood. There are also challenges in accessing Cultural Education facing Looked After Children and Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and children outside mainstream education and training.

3.8 It is important to note that the introduction of Cultural Education to children before they go to school is of clear benefit. This can be through engagement with books, language and rhymes; singing, dancing and rhythms; or painting, drawing and making things. I was impressed to learn about some of the innovative programmes, like Letterbox Club and Bookstart under the auspices of the charity Booktrust as well as the introduction of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. These offer mechanisms for ensuring books reach all young children, and are often excellent examples of public and private money being harnessed together, with support from industry, to deliver a Cultural Education programme.

3.9 Cultural Education should not exist in a vacuum; the organisations delivering it should be prepared to take cultural learning into settings where children and young people already spend their time. This might include youth clubs, playgroups or sporting venues. The Legacy Trust UK’s somewhereto project is a good example of a programme where young people are defining their own space to perform, enjoy and develop their culture. It helps them to find ways to access the spaces they need, whether it is to take part in sport, dance, or music, making art or showing their films.

3.10 Cultural activities should form a central part of any strategy developed by central and local government in the delivery of educational and recreational activities for the wellbeing of teenagers. It is likely that such a strategy would vary from local area to local area, however there is no doubt in my mind that a full range of cultural activities should be on offer to young people. 

3.11 Children of all races and genders should be able to connect to the Cultural Education that they receive. It is important that that no minority groups are forgotten in any strategic changes that take place as a result of this Review.

3.12 Much has been written about the value of Cultural Education as a means of school improvement or as a tool for achieving high impact social action projects. This is certainly the case and during the course of conducting both this Review and my previous Music Education Review I have encountered some extraordinarily powerful examples of this at work. However, this should never be the primary reason for teaching children about Culture. Instead, the individual subjects which go together to make up Cultural Education are worthwhile in their own right. To be clear, I am not advocating learning dance or music instead of English or Mathematics. Clearly that would be wrong. However, Cultural Education subjects should be recognised for the intellectual rigour and practical skills that they teach a child, rather than merely as a ‘nice to have’ add-on, or as part of a more far reaching School Improvement programme. I believe that there should be a clear signal from government that these subjects are both valuable and valued as part of the whole package of education on offer to children.

3.13 When taught well, Cultural Education includes three particular elements. The first is knowledge-based and teaches children about the best of what has been created (for example great literature, art, architecture, film, music and drama). It introduces young people to a broader range of cultural thought and creativity than they would be likely to encounter in their lives outside of school.

3.14 The second part of Cultural Education centres on the development of analytical and critical skills, which additionally have a direct relevance across other subjects outside the scope of this Review. This is especially important in heritage and history, where the subject could otherwise be reduced to the accumulation of facts, rather than also including the acquisition of an understanding of historical context.

3.15 The third element of Cultural Education is skills based and enables children to participate in and to create new culture for themselves (for example designing a product, drawing, composing music, choreographing a production, or making a short film). It is important to note that, when delivered well, Cultural Education should not just be about visiting museums, galleries or heritage sites, or about seeing performances, although all of these remain important parts of the whole package of Cultural Education. Often, Cultural Education activities will be collaborative and will help children to learn how to work together as a team. However, it is essential that children and young people are encouraged to undertake regular solo activities, such as reading books, writing stories, drawing pictures, learning crafts or making music. Over time, they will get better at doing each of these things, as they build up skills and knowledge through repetitive practice. It is important to remember that becoming proficient in these solo activities can have a profound effect on a child’s development; they should not be overshadowed by other group or experience based facets of Cultural Education.

3.16 Despite wishing to see Cultural Education subjects recognised for their own intrinsic worth, it would be remiss of me not to note that our best achieving schools tend to offer a high standard of Cultural Education to their pupils; with excellent facilities and teaching in areas such as art and design, design technology, music and the performing arts. This cultural activity – and the value placed upon it within the school environment – in itself creates a culture of learning and behaviour within schools. Alongside the primary benefit of learning about culture for its own sake, this has the secondary benefit of engaging many children with their general schooling to a far greater extent than might otherwise be the case.

3.17 However, simply increasing capacity in terms of making facilities and opportunities available to children and young people in schools should not be regarded as a ‘quick fix’. It is also necessary to ensure that expectations of standards in school leadership and teaching of Cultural Education subjects are set at a high level both in curriculum subjects and in more informal in-school settings.

3.18 Although welcome emphasis has been given by the government to the teaching of English literature and to History, other Cultural Education subjects in schools should not be seen as an easy option and therefore for less academically able children. They add to the sum of academic achievement and knowledge of a pupil, as well as helping them to learn skills, which will benefit them both as individuals in their adult life and as potential employees in the world of work. I am concerned to learn from many of the teachers who have contributed to this Review that some more academically able young people are being steered away from subjects which might form the basis for their future employment within the Creative and Cultural Industries.

3.19 England has an excellent reputation on the international stage for its creative output. It can be argued that our influence on literature, design, cinema, museums, the visual arts, music and the presentation of our heritage assets internationally is disproportionately large for a country of our relatively small size. These are also areas in which we have traditionally been admired from abroad for our achievements in the related education sector. It would be highly regrettable if this international reputation for excellence was allowed to decline in any way.

3.20 Any downgrading of investment in the area of Cultural Education or in the status of the subjects that are required by the Creative and Cultural Industries for future employees could pose a serious risk to the revenues earned by UK plc. It is significant that China, Singapore and other emerging economies place great store in strengthening their own Cultural Education as one of the building blocks for investing in the future of their countries. This is of particular relevance at a time when the government is focussing on economic growth as one of its key policy areas.

3.21 In a report published in 2011 entitled Skills for the Creative Industries: Investing in the Talents of our People, the CBI argued:

The creative sector has huge growth potential. By 2013, the sector is expected to employ 1.3 million people, potentially greater than financial services. The digital and creative industries are a natural export strength for the UK, providing the UK’s third largest export sector – only behind advanced engineering and financial and professional services.”

3.22 It is important that independent careers advice given to young people who wish to work in the Creative and Cultural Industries by their schools is of a high standard, with particular reference to fast developing areas of technology. It is imperative that young people are made aware of the full range of opportunities available to them across the Creative and Cultural Industries - particularly those careers that operate ‘behind the scenes’ away from the glare of publicity, which might not be immediately apparent to a young person considering their options for the world of work. Independent careers guidance provided through their schools should help young people to gain knowledge of available jobs, as well as informing them of the subjects that they need to study to stand the best chance of gaining skilled employment in their chosen area. It is also important that careers advice signposts young people towards the right Further and Higher Education courses to enable them to increase the probability of gaining employment.

3.23 The skills, which children acquire through good Cultural Education, help to develop their personality, abilities and imagination. They allow them to learn how to think both creatively and critically and to express themselves fully. All of these skills are strong influencers on wider academic attainment in schools and help to grow a child’s interest in the process of learning within the school environment.

3.24 Understanding the Impact of Engagement of Culture and Sport - a report published in 2010 by the Culture and Sport Evidence Programme (a joint programme of strategic research led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in collaboration with Arts Council England, English Heritage and Sport England) - underlined the positive effect that Cultural Education could have on young people’s overall academic attainment:

Participation in structured arts activities improves young people’s cognitive abilities... Participation of young people in such activities could increase their cognitive ability test scores by 16% and 19%, on average, above that of non-participants (all other things being equal).’

3.25 Recently, the expert panel for the National Curriculum Review, chaired by Tim Oates, has published its recommendations (The Framework for the National Curriculum Review. DfE, 2011). I was greatly encouraged to read that the panel recognized that art and music lessons not only have ‘intrinsic worth’ in their own right, but also bring ‘benefits to pupil engagement, cognitive development and achievement, including in mathematics and reading’.

3.26 The coalition government has underlined a particular commitment to improving standards of literacy and also to the teaching of history. This is a welcome development; only by becoming proficient in reading will young people be able to unlock the knowledge contained in the written word. Individuals and organisations within the heritage sector have warmly welcomed the focus on history as a subject, as this has a particular relevance to their work. English Literature and History are both extremely important subjects, falling within the scope of Cultural Education, as defined by the remit of this Review. But, it is also important that other subjects within this area are also given the prominence that they deserve.

3.27 Fostering creativity in cultural learning is an important part of every child’s education. However, there is a risk that the ‘creativity agenda’ has come to mean a particular style of education, which does not place sufficient value on the development of a child’s understanding of cultural practice, or of fact-based knowledge about culture. At the same time, those who advocate a pure ‘knowledge agenda’ fail to value the skills and experiences that engagement with cultural activities can bring to a child’s education. Excellence in Cultural Education should be a synthesis of these two schools of thought. Creativity is not an alternative to academic learning, for those children who are less able in subjects such as Maths or English. Nor should the opportunity for creativity be limited for more academically able students because they are steered away from the chance to study Cultural Education subjects. There is a risk that the importance of Cultural Education is devalued unless it is seen as part of the entire curriculum offering for young people.

3.28 I would suggest that young people can only become more creative by learning distinct skills (the ‘tools of the trade’) and by learning about the techniques, views and influences of great writers, artists, film-makers and musicians. I would argue that children and young people should receive a Cultural Education, which is fuelled by the desire to share both creativity and knowledge. The two should never be seen as being mutually exclusive. An excellent Cultural Education will help children to learn how to be creative, while at the same time helping them to learn about creative and cultural subjects.

3.29 The concept of creativity in the teaching of subjects such as Maths, Geography and Science is a valuable one. I want to make it very clear that I do not intend to suggest that creativity is the sole preserve of the subject areas which fall within my remit. However, I do not propose to examine the use of creativity in the teaching of the subjects beyond the scope of this Review. Rather, I will be limiting discussion to the subject areas outlined in paragraph 1.5. To be clear, it should not be inferred that I regard the use of creativity in the teaching of other subjects as lacking in validity or importance; rather, it is beyond the scope of this Review.

3.30 One of the less tangible, but nonetheless important, benefits of a rounded Cultural Education is that it gives us an understanding of where we find ourselves at any given moment on a continuum of cultural development. Schools perform a valuable role in encouraging children to explore and to discover. Without Cultural Education in schools, there is a risk that children would face a disconnection from great writers, artists and musicians. The best of these established works of art are as relevant and brilliant today as they were when they were first created.

3.31 By reading and learning about the works of the great authors, poets and playwrights of the past, we can understand the development of literature and drama in the 20th and 21st centuries and the place of brand new works as part of the continuous reinvention of these genres. The same is true for other art forms, such as music or the visual arts. The great composers or painters of hundreds of years ago inform our understanding of the musicians and artists who are producing ground-breaking work today. Similarly, the British influence on film is immense and informs much of the thinking on the way that the cinema of today is being made around the world. Whether it be names from the past such as Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock, or the latest box office success such as Danny Boyle and Tom Hooper, Britain continues to lead the way in many areas of film-making. Britain also has exceptional talent in technical fields such as audio-visual effects and computer graphics. It is important that the government does everything it can to ensure that there continues to be a flow of home grown talent through our education system into this area, as it continues to grow in importance within Britain’s Creative and Cultural Industries.

3.32 Any rounded Cultural Education should have space to include newer art-forms, which have yet to pass the test of time, alongside the very best creativity from times gone by. It is important that children are exposed to new practices and new ways of creating, whether this is through the use of innovative digital technology, or a new take on more established thinking. The young people studying these subjects should be equipped with the knowledge and understanding to enable them to make informed value judgements about their own personal preferences, based on their learning. The curriculum in this area should give weight both to the new and the old, better to enable a greater understanding of the way in which culture has developed over time.

3.33 Developments in digital technology continue to revolutionise the way in which Cultural Education subjects are taught in the formal school environment. Alongside this, the changing digital landscape affords young people significant opportunities to enjoy creative arts in new and exciting ways that speak to their own youth culture in more informal settings. This informal learning by young people should also be valued, as it often has a particular relevance to skills that may enhance their future employability across a wide range of different sectors, not just those in the Creative and Cultural Industries. By the end of 2012, virtually every cinema screen will be digital. This opens up huge possibilities for the dissemination of cultural learning across the country, with a distribution network that is both high quality and economically efficient. Government, schools and funders need to ensure that they keep up with innovations in this area; with policy being developed that is mindful of a forward looking, rather than backward looking, agenda.

3.34 Aside from visits to historic sites, an important part of the heritage area of Cultural Education is the creation of an understanding of a sense of place for children and young people. The implications of disconnection from a young person’s built environment have significant consequences, with potentially greater levels of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

3.35 Cultural Education in general - and specifically taking part in cultural activities - can also be a major contributor to helping a young person to develop a sense of their own identity and a shared understanding and appreciation of the environment within which they live and their own personal role within that environment. This operates on a number of levels, whether it is in a school, a community, a village, town or city, or in gaining an appreciation of how British culture is viewed internationally.

3.36 It may seem very obvious to those people whose lives have already been enriched by an excellent Cultural Education, but it is worth underlining at this point, that the journey of discovery through culture, together with the opportunity to experience cultural activities, is enjoyable. Cultural Education is enriching both in academic and skills-based terms. But it is also fun. And we should never be ashamed of that.

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