Schools White Paper was published on Wednesday 24 November. In this blog post we will signpost you to some of the first analysis and responses of key journalists and education professionals to the paper and give you our thoughts on how the plans might affect cultural learning.OverviewThere are a number of excellent summaries of the white paper already published on the web, giving the headlines of the reforms and ideas in the White Paper. These include: The BBC, Mike Baker’s blog, and The National College of School Leadership .The arts, culture and creativity are not often directly referenced within the paper, but we are pleased to see that there is a mention of the Henley Review and of future plans to develop a broader approach to cultural education in paragraph 4.31:‘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.’Teacher training and recruitmentThe White Paper states that the government will‘create a new national network of Teaching Schools, on the model of teachinghospitals, giving outstanding schools the role of leading the training andprofessional development of teachers and head teachers.’The CLA will be asking whether this initiative can build on some of the excellent practice of our Specialist Arts Colleges, Artsmark and Creative Partnerships Schools, developing training and development hubs which support teachers to extend their cultural learning practice.The paper lays out plans to reform teacher training – focusing much more on practice-based learning, set in and led by schools. This will have a significant impact on the Initial Teacher Training models currently offered by universities. Paragraph 2.18 of the paper states that a consultation on detailed proposals for the funding of initial teacher training will be published early in the New Year.The CLA welcomes plans to look again at teacher training, particularly as non-specialist teachers engaging with the arts and culture are often not adequately supported to incorporate cultural learning into their practice. We would like to see a greater emphasis on training for teachers to use culture and the arts to raise standards and improve behaviour and wellbeing right across the curriculum.From 2011 a competitive national scholarship scheme to support professional development for teachers will be introduced, with an independent panel making awards to support those who wish to pursue further study in their subject or broaden their expertise. We will be interested to see whether this can be used by teachers to develop partnerships, knowledge sharing or mentoring programmes with cultural learning organisations.Slimming down the curriculumIn the ‘Future of schools’ section the paper states that the number of young people taking up vocational qualifications such as B-techs and NVQs has increased by over 3000% over the last six years. It also states that many of these qualifications are not sufficiently recognised by universities and employers.This is an interesting point in relation to the arts, culture and creative industries and the CLA would like to ask its members to tell us what they think are the best routes into a creative career.One of the key elements of this white paper is the review of the national curriculum, which will include both primary and secondary stages and which will take into account Dame Clare Tickell’s ongoing review of the curriculum of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) – due to report in the spring.In his interview on Radio Four’s Today programme Michael Gove talked about a ‘minimum curriculum entitlement for, perhaps, 50% of the school day so that there is more space, not just for other subjects, but for things like music, art, culture and so on’.You can listen again by following this link (relevant section about 3 mins 40 seconds into the broadcast)Here at the CLA we feel that it is absolutely critical that all children and young people are supported to engage with a broad range of high-quality cultural learning opportunities, and whilst we welcome Michael Gove’s acknowledgement that the curriculum review will ‘free up’ teacher time for cultural learning we are anxious to ensure that cultural learning is valued and given the status it deserves in every school.Young people who take GCSEs in English, mathematics, the sciences, a modern or ancient foreign language and a ‘humanity such as history or geography’ will be awarded an extra certificate – An English Baccalaureate. Schools which offer this suite of subjects will be given more weighting in national league tables. The CLA will be interested to see whether subjects such as drama will be included under the ‘humanity’ classification.Apprenticeships for 16–19 year-olds will continue to be supported.Reducing bureaucracyThe duty on schools and colleges to cooperate with Children’s Trusts will be abolished, as will the requirement for local authorities to produce a Children and Young People’s Plan.Self-Evaluation Forms (SEFs) are to be scrapped and the paper makes it clear that neither the Government nor Ofsted will require written lesson plans in the future.The document does acknowledge that ‘good schools play a vital role as promoters of health and wellbeing in the local community’ but states unequivocally that schools will no longer be centrally required to provide this function.‘Locally, we will rely on schools to work together with voluntary, business and statutory agencies to create an environment where every child can learn, where they can experience new and challenging opportunities through extended services, and where school buildings and expertise are contributing to building strong families and communities’The CLA will be working with partners across the country to help and support schools to work closely with their local cultural learning community, and is asking all our signatories to get in touch to tell us the best ways that this can be achieved.BehaviourThe arts are mentioned very briefly in the section on behaviour, in a short case study:‘ARK Plus is a programme to intervene in the lives of under-attaining Year 7 students with acute behavioural and emotional needs and with potential to improve both their academic attainment and their resilience and ability to thrive in school.The key principle is that prevention is better than cure. The twelve children in the pilot spent six months away from the main school site, with academic catch-up including intensive English and mathematics tuition in the mornings.In the afternoons, pupils were offered a range of enrichment activities including sport, music and drama with a focus on developing the students’ social and interpersonal skills.The students on the pilot programme all made at least one year’s progress in English and mathematics in just six months, and have reintegrated effectively into school with many fewer behavioural incidents.’Infrastructure and fundingAs expected, people and organisations wanting to open Free Schools will be actively supported in doing so, with help offered from the New Schools Network and directly from the DfE.As previously stated on this blog, the CLA urges interested cultural organisations to get in touch with any Free Schools in their area, to explore ways of working in partnership to provide curriculum and enrichment opportunities. The Free Schools initiative may also provide an opportunity for cultural organisations to be formal partners or leaders in setting up schools.The paper states that ‘New Studio Schools will also drive innovation in vocational education. Studio Schools are 14–19 institutions with an entrepreneurial and vocational focus, catering for students of all abilities who are disengaged by an entirely academic curriculum. Each Studio School will have several business partners connected to one sector of industry. Students will spend part of their week working in these businesses, with older students receiving payment, getting them ready for the world of work while gaining credible qualifications.’The first Studio Schools opened in September 2010 in Luton and Kirklees with the Kirklees School offering a Creative and Media focus to young people.School improvement will be delivered by schools and local authorities, probably as a ‘traded service’ to other schools and areas. Again, this may provide an opportunity for cultural learning professionals to offer professional development and training to other colleagues.The Ofsted framework will be redeveloped, with a consultation in the new year. This new framework will have a focus on just four things – pupil achievement; the quality of teaching; leadership and management; and the behaviour and safety of pupils. The CLA will work with our partners to respond to this review.The paper states that the Pupil Premium funding will be for raising attainment for disadvantaged young people and that head teachers will be able to decide how this funding is spent, opening up the possibility for these funds to be used for cultural learning.As has been previously reported on this blog, over the next four years there will be a 60 per cent real terms reduction in education capital spending. Priorities for the remaining money are:
- to ensure that we address the poor condition of the existing school estate
- ensure there are enough places for the predicted increase in the number of school age children, particularly at primary level.