Our response to the proposed ‘Pupil and Parent Guarantee’

20 April 2010

In the Government's recent white paper 

Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century schools system, a commitment was made to set out a number of entitlements through a Pupil and Parent Guarantee. Five ambitions have been set out for the Pupil Guarantee, including an ambition that "every pupil will go to a school where they take part in sporting and cultural activities". So is this the cultural entitlement that we're all so committed to?In the details there are a few guarantees which will have an effect on cultural learning, for instance Guarantee 3.10: That every pupil identified as gifted and talented receives written confirmation by their school of the extra challenge and support they will receive and Guarantee 3.1: Ensure teachers are appropriately qualified and receive training so that they can teach well.And there are two guarantees specifically around cultural learning:

  • Guarantee 2.3: That every primary pupil should have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Schools must ensure the teaching of musical instruments, via the "Understanding the Arts" area of the curriculum, and should follow set guidance on ensuring a good experience.
  • Guarantee 4.5: That through partnerships between schools and other external providers (such as libraries, museums and performing arts organisations), every pupil should have access to high-quality cultural activities in and out-of-school, with an aspiration that, over time, this will reach five hours a week for all
Whilst we have welcomed the introduction of the guarantee, and particularly a focus on ensuring a cultural offer through partnership, we feel that the guarantee could be made stronger. The Alliance has responded that the Guarantee should:
  • set the expectation that schools must consider what children need in order to experience meaningful engagement in cultural activity. There is a risk that if this remains something that schools should but not necessarily must do, those that already miss out will continue to do so
  • be clear about every school’s obligation to provide the arts and culture via the national curriculum, whist keeping the focus on partnerships with the cultural sector
  • expect Local Authorities to strategically plan for, and ensure access to, culture for children and young people
What we’ve suggested mirrors to some extent the guarantees made for the provision of sport and PE. It makes sense that culture has the same level of guarantee, and with these additions it is more likely that the ambition of a cultural offer can become a reality.With these guarantees in place, pupils and parents could be assured that every school and Local Authority will play their part in planning for and delivering a cultural offer for children and young people, in partnership with the cultural sector.