Do your part to save cultural learning in schools

Whilst there may be a number of debatable outcomes of the proposed changes to education under the coalition government, what is now looking almost certain is the negative impact that they will have on the uptake of cultural learning in secondary education.

The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA), a coalition working to ensure that all children and young people have access to culture, has uncovered some worrying statistics that suggest a growing crisis in the sector. A recent poll by Ipsos Mori shows that over the last year 27% of schools have cut courses as a direct result of the introduction of the English Baccalaureate and that of those courses cut, Drama, Performing Arts, Art and Design and Design and Technology are the worst hit. 

This was the theme of a presentation by CLA Manager, Elizabeth Crump, at Cubitt’s Festival of Blackboards event: School for Change, on 22 November 2012. The topic of the event was the current changes to  policy affecting Art and Design education in schools. Elizabeth was one of a panel of speakers, including Lesley Butterworth (NSEAD) and Henry Ward (Deputy Head, The Welling School), who all attested to the worrying affects of education reforms on the cultural sector. 

Fortunately, the picture is not all doom and gloom, as the CLA are  meeting with civil servants and decision makers and pulling together evidence and arguments to support the case for the arts in education. They need the help of cultural organisations and individuals in highlighting this issue and calling for the restoration of the arts to the curriculum and for their inclusion in the EBacc, in as many forms as possible.

Here is what you can do:

1. Brief your board and governors

Your Chairs, governors and board members are key influencers and we need them to make this case to politicians, the press, headteachers, funders, policy makers, decision makers and advisors. We also need them to recruit the business community to this cause – we need voices from the commercial sector speaking up about the importance of the arts and culture.

The CLA have put together the following briefing: Arts_in_Schools_Briefing_Nov_2012_FINAL, which sets out the issues and arguments around the EBacc and we are asking you to table and distribute it at your next meeting. 

As this is a complex issue, the CLA are also happy to talk to your Chair directly about this, so do get in touch: info@culturallearningallaince.org.uk

2. Brief your Communications team

If you have a communications or marketing team that talks to the press or puts together positions for your organisation, give them these messages so that they can incorporate them in their work.

3. Use the Evidence

Use the CLA’s Key Research Findings, ImagineNation document and Drama in schools document to make the case to your local school and community. Tell them what other evidence and statistics you need.

4. Campaign!

Sign up to the ISM’s Bacc for the Future CampaignIt is calling for the Education Select Committee to launch an enquiry into the EBacc and to interrogate why the arts and cultural subjects haven’t been included.

5. Write to your MP

This webpage tells you how.

Use the board briefing and the evidence to help you make your case and ask your MP to write to the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) on your behalf. The system is structured so that he will have to respond to you.

6. Respond to the DfE’s current consultation on Key Stage 4 Qualifications

This consultation asks key questions about the EBacc and its structure. You can find all the information about how to respond here.

Cubitt Education is part of an artist-led organisation based in Islington, London. We work locally with schools, community centres and groups providing a diverse range of artist-led activities.

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