Policy and Practice round-up November 2017

15 November 2017

This month we bring you news of the RSA Learning about Culture launch, 'Caring about Cultural Freedom' from A New Direction, 'Life Lessons' from the Sutton Trust, the Museums Review, consultation on the Culture Strategy for Scotland, the Artsmark partnership programme, evidence that the Arts & Culture industry has grown by 10% in a year and resources to help advocate for Cultural Learning.

RSA Learning about Culture Launch – recruiting schools now

On 17 October the RSA launched their Learning about Culture research programme which is being delivered in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation. 

There are two aims for the research:

  • Build a stronger evidence base for cultural learning
  • Improve the use of evidence in cultural learning

The research will include random control trails for five different arts interventions at Primary level:

You can read more about how the interventions were selected in the programme prospectus.

Register to take part

Each of the programmes are now recruiting schools to be involved in the RCTs. If you are a primary school you can register to take part via the project pages on the RSA website. 

 Frameworks, reports and tools in 2018

There will also be support for the wider arts education sector to develop their practice in collecting, understanding and using evidence. A framework for evidence informed practice will be tested and pilot programmes will be launched in 2018.

New research: Caring for Cultural Freedom

Caring for Cultural Freedom: An Ecological Approach to Young People’s Cultural Learning, is the latest research from A New Direction (a London Bridge organisation), exploring how cultural learning happens in a location and how it can best be supported in the current landscape. 

The report makes the case for, and suggests ways to develop, specifically ‘caring’ approaches. Caring has been identified as a key approach, encompassing the need to be attentive and responsive to the views and needs of young people, and to take responsibility collectively for the health of the ecosystem as a whole. Read the full report on A New Direction’s website.

Life Lessons: Sutton Trust research

A new report from the Sutton Trust sets out the importance of essential life skills such as confidence, motivation, resilience and communication for people to flourish in the workplace and their daily lives.

‘Essential life skills such as confidence, motivation, resilience and communication are associated with better academic outcomes and better prospects in the workplace, and there is an increasing emphasis on their value, given labour market trends towards automation.’

94% of employers said these life skills were as important, or more important than qualifications and the report argues that these skills to be at the heart of our education system.

‘With increasing automation, it is the ability to show flexibility, creativity and teamwork that are increasingly becoming just as valuable, if not more valuable, than academic knowledge and technical skills.’

The report highlights how independent schools prioritise developing these life skills and that they are often developed through extra curricular activities and clubs including drama. The report then highlights 37% of young people don’t take part in any clubs or activities and that there are ‘substantial socio-economic gaps in access to extra-curricular activities, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to take up activities than their better off peers (46% compared to 66%), with just half of those receiving free school meals (FSM) taking part.’

The Sutton Trust recommends that schools focus on developing non-academic skills for pupils ‘through both classroom strategies and extra-curricular enrichment activities such as debating, cultural visits and volunteering’, with a focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They also renewed their calls for a means-tested voucher system or use of pupil premium funding to buy these opportunities.

Museums Mendoza Review published

Promised by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) 2016 Culture While Paper and published on 14 November, the Review asked the question: What can government do to assist in creating and maintaining a thriving, sustainable and effective museum sector in Britain? 

Key themes of the report are the increase and diversification of audiences; the role museums play in developing local communities and placemaking; and how museums support soft power. The report also estimates for the first time how much public funding museums receive via the range of different Departments that support them £844m in 2016/2017, a decline of 13% since 2007.

The Review identifies nine priorities for museums, including Delivering cultural education, although the Review does limit this priority to how museums support formal education with the aim of reaching children who might not experience museums outside of school, rather than looking at children’s whole development in and out of school. The report calls for ‘greater emphasis and support given to the formal education work of museums with schools’.

The report calls for greater clarity on the overlapping roles of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) with regard to museum funding, asking ACE to focus more on their museum development role, and HLF on capital projects. How this will play out given the range of museum learning posts HLF is funding currently supports remains to be seen.

DCMS, ACE and HLF will work together to create a Museums Action Plan to deliver the priorities which will be published in September 2018. 

Read more about reactions to the Review on the Museums Association and National Museum Directors Council websites.

Culture Strategy for Scotland Consultation

If you live or work in Scotland you can attend one of the public events to help shape the new Culture Strategy for Scotland.

The Culture Strategy will be developed over a number of phases. The Government is currently in the engagement phase, gathering ideas and views through Scotland wide culture conversations and on line. This phase will help shape a draft of the Strategy which will form the basis of a formal public consultation next year. 

You can feed into the Strategy at this stage by attending one of the events below, hosting your own Culture Conversation or by sharing your ideas online via this discussion forum by 30 November.

  • Edinburgh, Leith Theatre, 21 November 2017
  • Dunfermline Carnegie Library Museum and Gallery, Fife 6 December 2017
  • A Culture Strategy for Scotland: future of culture in Scotland Facebook live event, 29 November 2017

Artsmark Partnership Programme

Arts Council England has launched a new Artsmark Partnership Programme which will create a nationwide network of Arts Council England endorsed arts and cultural organisations that can support schools on their Artsmark journey.

Organisations can apply to be become an Artsmark Partner and will receive a logo to display. Partners will have their own offers for schools and education settings that may include Continued Professional Development opportunities for staff, digital resources or workshops linked to the curriculum for students, as well as visits to exhibitions and performances. 

For more information on the programme and joining see the Artsmark website

Arts & Culture industry grows by 10% in a year

Arts Council England commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research’s (Cebr) to look at the contribution made by the arts and culture industry to the UK’s economy in 2013 and 2015.

The new Cebr report out on 4 November and updated with the most recent figures shows:

  • the arts and culture industry has grown 10% in a year, and now contributes £8.5bn to the UK economy – ore than double that of the Premier League
  • There were £5.2bn exports of arts and culture goods and services in 2013, more than 3 times that of UK film sector – xwith 84% going outside the EU
  • Culture pays £2.6bn in taxes, £5 for every £1 of public funding

John Glen MP, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, has blogged about the report and you can download it from the Arts Council England website.

Resources to help advocate for Cultural Learning

We were very pleased to launch our new STEAM Briefing at the end of October. This is the first in a series of CLA briefing papers and  joins the other CLA publications : ImagineNation: the value of Cultural Learning and Key Research Findings: the case for Cultural Learning.

All have been designed to help members advocate for the value and power of cultural learning. Please do download and share with colleagues.

Join the Cultural Learning Alliance

Please encourage colleagues to join the Cultural Learning Alliance – it only takes a moment, is free and we never share your contact details. Every member helps strengthen our voice as we champion a right to culture for every child.


Image: Prototyping Day at The Silk Mill © Derby Museums