The Prime Minster David Cameron made a speech on 11 January which linked the need to ensure children have access to arts and culture with improved life chances, talking about the ‘opportunity of culture’.
‘Britain is blessed with some of the most awe-inspiring cultural treasures on the planet. Our museums, theatres and galleries, our exhibitions, artists and musicians, they are truly the jewel in our country’s crown. And culture should never be a privilege; it is a birth right that belongs to us all.’
Cultural Citizens programme
The Life Chances strategy will include funding for a new Cultural Citizens programme which will aim to ensure that those who might believe that culture is not for them are engaged with arts organisations.
While recognising the importance of access to arts and culture to improve children’s life chances, the Prime Minster appeared to be unaware of the inherent contradiction in of promoting the English Baccalaureate as a measure for improving ‘innovation, creativity, problem solving’.
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is actually driving the arts out of schools. Since 2010 there has been a fall of 14% in the take up of Arts GCSEs and we know from Ipsos Mori research when the EBacc was first implemented that schools were removing arts subjects from the curriculum. 21% of schools with a high proportion of free school meals removed an arts subject as a result of the EBacc – precisely the children who David Cameron says need their life chances improved.
David Cameron also announced new ‘Character’ modules for school heads and new materials. We look forward to learning more about these and would like to see the role of arts subjects in developing character recognised.
Mentoring through the Careers and Enterprise company
£70 million will be spent on careers education during this parliament. Most of this will by allocated through the Careers and Enterprise Company which will oversee the recruitment of mentors for 25,000 young people.
National Citizen Service
There will be additional funding for the National Citizen Service so that by 2021 60% of all 16 year-olds take part. It will be tied in to the National Curriculum.
Life chances in the early years will be addressed with additional funding for the Troubled Families programme to work with 400,000 more families. Parenting skills and child development will be central to its delivery.