Cultural Learning Alliance

The arts fuel children’s curiosity and critical capacity. They are every child’s birthright. It is vital that children engage with the arts early in their lives.

Arts Council England
Achieving Great Art for Everyone, 2011


Champion the arts and culture within the curriculum review – respond today

Published 29 March 2011

The Department of Education is currently reviewing the National Curriculum and is considering which subjects should be included and what should be taught. The review document outlines plans for a much reduced curriculum, with only English, Maths, Science and PE included as statutory subjects for schools to teach.  This new curriculum, coupled with the recent introduction of the English Baccalaureate, could lead to inequality of access to the arts for children and young  people across the country.

If the arts are lost from the curriculum we risk schools cutting back arts provision – something that has already begun at the introduction of the English Baccalaureate – and young people across the country only gaining access to cultural learning where a school or a head teacher is already committed.

We now have until 14 April to champion the arts and culture to the review team and the advisory panel and save its place within the curriculum. It is absolutely critical that the team hear from the broadest range and largest number of professionals and organisations working in the cultural learning sector. Please do respond today.

We have been working with Alliance members right across the sector to develop documents which may be of use to our signatories. We know that there will be areas where we don’t all agree, but feel it is important to put forward joint arguments and reflect each other’s specialisms wherever possible.

You can download our draft response to the Curriuculum Review in the DfE format here, or if it is easier, read through our responses in word document form ( CLA responses to general questions CLA responses to subject specific questions) and submit your thoughts online here.

The consultation form itself can seem daunting as it is fairly long and complex. We have therefore created this very simple how-to guide to help you make your voice heard:

How to respond to the curriculum review

If you are not already signed up to the CLA - sign up now. It is fast, secure and free and will strengthen our collective voice and agency with the government on this issue and many others.

It is important to remember that identical submissions are treated differently to other submissions, and could be seen as a campaign by the department. It is therefore best if your own response is unique. However, the sheer volume of responses will make a difference so pick the right form of response according to the time you have available:

If you only have 10 minutes

  1. Cut and paste your name, address and organisation details into the draft response form, read it through and send it to the Department of Education on
  2. Send a link to this page to all your colleagues, friends and acquaintances

If you have an hour

  1. Download the draft response form and use the headings of each of our numbered response paragraphs to formulate your own argument. Send a copy to
  2. Send a link to this page to all your colleagues, friends and acquaintances
  3. Send a tracked-change copy of your response to so that we can incorporate any new arguments into our draft submission

If you have an hour and a half

  1. Read through some of our recent articles on the Schools White Paper, The 14-19 Review, and the Curriculum Review.
  2. Download the draft response form and use the headings of each of our numbered response paragraphs to formulate your own argument. Send a copy to
  3. Send a link to this page to all your colleagues, friends and acquaintances
  4. Send a tracked-change copy of your response to so that we can incorporate any new arguments into our draft submission
  5. Write to your local MP with your main concerns about the Curriculum Review and ask them to write to the Secretary of State,  Michael Gove MP on your behalf.


working with primary school children on numerous arts projects I have seen their confidence soar and a world of imagination and colour open up before them. We explore a wide range of tactile and unusual materials on collage based projects where there are no drawing skills required! this way we can engage everyone even the kids that say they're ' rubbish at art' . with this new found confidence and a pride in what they have achieved hopefully it will give them the desire to tackle other things. Alison Ashton (april 11th 2011 )
alison ashton 29 March 2011
Cuts to arts provision in schools is preposterous!
Anne richardson 29 March 2011
Not all children are academic learners and so many learn best through creativity. We need to nuture this, not abolish what is clearly working in so many schools already. It is fantastic to see how many schools are engaging with a creative curriculum - and they are doing so because it is evidently working for their pupils! Through our work - we see children who speak english as a second language step up and speak lines in front of an audience, when they have never even put up their hand in class before. The arts provide opportunities for children to shine, which is paramount when they may struggle with the more acadmic based subjects in the classsroom! We desperately need to keep the arts provision in schools - this is so evident!!
Rebecca Zimmerman 29 March 2011
I believe the soundest argument for retaining the arts in education is not just that it underpins other subjects (although of course it does in terms of confidence building, communication skills, critical appreciation hand-eye coordination, self-esteem, relationship building skills etc) but also that an initial education in arts-related subjects lead directly to essential careers in non-arts jobs and turns young learners in entrepreneurs - vital to the future of the economy. For example my education in the arts and a degree in costume design gave me the skills and experience to become a company director at a relatively young age. A previous employee of mine trained in dance from an early age at school: she went on to run her own fashion boutique and is a very successful business woman thanks to the confidence, artistic awareness and visusal skills developed through dance. Another colleague of mine through her education and earlier career in musical theatre, developed the skills needed to pursue a very rewarding career working with disabled people and young people with learning disabilities enabling them to get out of the benefits system and into work. All of these careers boost the economy and are outside of the arts sector but could only happen thanks to the learning that comes through an education in the arts. We'd be foolish to constrain the future of the economy and the UK's respected standpoint in global culture by depriving the UK of these skills sets.
Lisa 29 March 2011
I think setting the basis for a balance of left AND right brain thinking is essential
Sabine 29 March 2011
art is such an important part of our culture. we must allow people to express themselves.
beverley sword 29 March 2011
What I know is that when the arts are not supported or cut out completely from the school curriculum, then overall academic performance and behaviour suffer. Party politics aside, and apart from abolishing the GTC, everything I have seen of this government's education policy flies in the face of common sense and, I think, masks a much more sinister agenda of denying a full education to all but the priviledged few. Pushing Art out of the school curriculum is a clear indication of this trend.
Nick Clark 29 March 2011
The evidence for using the arts in learning and the curriculum is enormous; through a creative activity people learn in a more holistic, complete way using all parts of the brain, often tackling many 'academic' subjects at once. Removing arts from the curriculum will mean they become more a privilage available for the rich, rather than a right. It will also mean that our cultural heritage shrinks as future generations of potential poets, musicians, actors artists, etc will never get the chance to realise their potential.
Claire Tustin 29 March 2011
If we don't have art and creativity in are schools how can we give each child opportunity to develop there individual skills and identity in this world. Art and creativity affects and helps each individual in their daily lives.
Lois Cook 29 March 2011
We have recently completed an opera project with two groups of Key Stage 2 children and a group of young people from a local state special school. The impact that this has had on participants, their schools and families is almost immeasurable. One parent said 'After watching my son perform I saw a side to him that I have never seen. I saw such confidence, so free and happy on stage, it was as if he was in another land, away from home, school and routine. He has been so happy since.'
Theatre is empowering, creativity is enthralling and not just for performers, as everyone who 'plays their part' contributes something special to the world around them. We always find that our participants become more willing to work hard on achieving a goal, are better at listening and cooperating and many other vital life skills are established through their involvement. The work that we do will continue to reach young people, but schools must be guided to do the same.
Victoria 29 March 2011
I am increasingly concerned about the future of the arts in education. Michael Gove's White paper seems to utterly fail to endorse or even acknowledge the achievements of the arts - to raise attainment, engagement, inclusion and literacy - for all learners. I have worked in schools for over a decade, and see time and time again how the arts stretches and challenges the most able, includes and motivates the most challenged, and supports vital PLTS (another lost cause) and learning skills through dynamic and inspiring work in and out of the classroom. Our Ofsted reports are evidence of this. Students today increasingly experience the arts as something to consume, not take part in, and this attitude is one that we challenge on a daily basis, instead embedding so-called 'soft' skills - stamina, resilience, tolerance to hard work, overcoming fear, confidence, teamwork, trying and failing and trying again, contributing, working independently - raising aspiration across the board. We know how much the arts can do to increase community participation in and affection for a school -very important in a school like ours in North Sheffield, where adult literacy standards are low and unemployment and adult underachievement high. Through the arts we challenge a difficult and entrenched community culture in positive ways. We also know how creativity has transformed the whole curriculum. Our results have gone up year on year. These achievements and changes have taken years. We challenge the most able to surpass their expectations and empower the most challenged - so many teachers do.

We are a National Challenge school, very diverse and a fabulous school (I am biased, clearly). I am sure that we all are hugely supportive of the English and Maths agenda, they are vital. But - must the arts become a second or third class poor relation that is seen (wrongly) as non-academic and not appropriate for our more able learners? We have been here before, back in the day - Music and Art had a place (they teach these at public schools I believe) and Dance and Drama became luxury or misunderstood subjects, add-ons to English and Sport. Without proper leadership support they can become places to dump the least able (it's 'practical' and so 'creative') and entertain the most advantaged (Those who do 'proper' subjects at Uni but dabbled in the amateur musical society, or the Footlights, and so on). I taught in one school where it was believed anyone could teach Drama - there apparently was no need for expertise, and no body of knowledge.
We have worked and proven, again and again, that Dance and Drama are not piddly weird extra subjects - they are equal in weight, canon, history, and human importance to Art and Music. Will all learners have access through proper lessons taught by specialists? We have worked so hard to overturn prejudices and concerns from learners and parents - so now boys achieve like fireworks in Dance - but this is still early days, nationally. Is this all to be undone?
I also believe all is not lost - we are resilient champions of culture - and that partnership (whilst this still needs resources and funding) is an exciting area to develop further in education. Everyone benefits through collaboration - but the best projects take expertise and support to be effective.
Zeena Rasheed 29 March 2011
The skill and personal development gained from learning art related subjects cannot be ignored. It is, in itself, outrageous that we have to list the reasons why it is vital that we make sure they exist well with in the school system.The arts are also often one of the only ways to engage and inspire some individuals that are hard to reach. I have years of experience working with young people who are 'at risk' or who are socially excluded and the arts are often one of the only subjects that can inspire them back to a learning environment.
Louise Johnston 29 March 2011
Arts and cultural aspect of the children education is very important. It contribute to their creative critical thinking.
Richard-Fouad MacLeod 29 March 2011
The arts, and culture more broadly, have the capacity to change and to enable children and young people to be aware that they can change and that they can effect change within their lives, for others and for the world.
madeleine coburn 29 March 2011
I feel that the the current curriculum which statutory includes the arts, history, geog, music etc sdhould continue or pupils will not necessarlity habe the opportunities to study these subjects as it will depend on the ethos and commitment of the school and its staff. As was the case vwhen I went into to primary education in the 1970's.
gill goodman 29 March 2011
we need to ensure that we retain our current provision for the arts in schools; It allows students a creative and cultural awareness, that firmly underpins other subjects as well as providing a life long appreciation of a massive element of historical and cultural essence of society. Without my own creative education, I would not appreciate what I now take for granted; my love for visiting exhibitions, theaters, museums, fairs, historical house - i could go on - with my family as well as having the ability and wish to pass on my own knowledge to my own sons who relish visiting and being told about such things. I would hate to see my own children being denied a creative education, should they choose that path when the time comes. How can an early years and foundation stage curriculum be implemented that focuses highly on 'learning through play' , a creative medium follow up with a secondary curriculum that allows for the reduction in such creative and cultural exploration that the earlier curriculum are promoting as the way forward??
Name 29 March 2011
We at Lathom Junior and Altmore Infant school are encouraging the parents to engage in an arts project, there is a lack of parental involvement and we really require a strategic partnership to overarche in other areas the crossing over to get the parents involved and to give them a pathway to continue a commitment towards a holistic education is the key, being demographically classed as a deprived area can have negative impact and we in Newham, London, want to start enjoying our environment and becoming more sustainable and organised may be the key to long term goals for our local community. As a parent I would like to see hubs in my community for 7 to 11 age as well, more like the successful children centres we have for 0 to 6 years old, this may improve our children's future and give them the opportunity to engage with positive role models.
Sajeda patel 29 March 2011
Creativity is not the exclusive domain of the arts as we can be creative in so many ways however learning, feeling,experiencing and sharing through the arts is an essential part of being human. Every culture has its own art forms and it through 'the arts' that people bridge divides, explore relationships and communicate about all kinds of issues. Every object we have be it a tiny piece of jewelry, kettle, car, lamp or computer has begun its life as thought, drawing or doodle on someone's sketch pad - even the notes, steps we dance and books we read have begun as creative thoughts. I can't imagine a society where we regress to a point that 'the arts' are denied a place in the formal education of our young people - it is like denying the existence of a part of all of us and sacrificing it to the art of barking out facts. Facts do not represent feelings, emotions and empathy, they have no real use unless one knows how to use them, we will not be enriched or feel comforted on our death beds by bald facts but rather by emotions of all kinds.
As a teacher in a Gold Artsmark school I have seen many children enjoy experiences they are denied in their daily lives. I have seen the most unexpected child blossom and grow while participating in the arts and can not underestimate the value and richness brought to everyones lives through arts experiences be they writing, singing, dancing, juggling,playing an instrument or simply being part of an audience. Children grow and discover things about themselves which they can nurture and treasure all their lives.
Tragically if we continue down a road which limits expose to the arts we will wake up in a number of years to the cry of 'where are all our creative people? What has happened to our design flare, why have we lost our world leading film industry, where are all the museum curators and restorers and who will we have to compose and perform music for state events - who will design the firework displays so popular on New Year's Eve, who will design the logos for future events etc. To limit the arts is to turn our backs on the our heritage of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Turner, Hockney, Sir Derek Jacobi,Dane Judy Dench, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hirst, Austin, Vaughn Williams and so many more. All artists who bring financial benfits to our country. Please do not talk about enabling and assisting the less well off in society while denying them exposure and opportunities through the arts. To castrate the arts is to deny simple pleasures like TV and music. It will leave a void in the many social activities provided by artists which support and keep young people diverted from crime and chaos on the streets. We need the balance of the arts to keep British society alive energetic and vital - the arts belong to us all and should not be denied to any of us. The arts are also a large part of British financial life and do we really want to emasculate any of our industries simply because we must learn facts. What a fact will be written in the history books of the future telling of the shortsighted and misguided actions of a British Government that culled the arts which resulted in an underdevelopment of talent and skill and the loss of many creative activities and industries in the country and the brain-drain of artists to more receptive parts of the world who now have burgeoning creative industries.
Frances Clements 29 March 2011
Creative & Performing Arts have been integral to learning literal, mathematical & scientific skills ever since our ancestors began communicating with each other thousands of years ago. A 13 year old piano pupil of mine recently achieved a 90% pass in a Latin test, which she would not have done without the help of using a jazz tune we had been working on
Michael Freeman 29 March 2011
Having the opportunity to practice an art in an early age is useful throughout one's life as it enables a person to develop new interests in a cretive and personal way. One is then able to contribute more actively in society for a more prolunged period.
Francesca 29 March 2011
As we embark in another review of the curriculum under a new government, I wish to speak on behalf of the students who can achieve personal levels of success and achievement through the Arts. Please remember the benefits that all children can gain from self-expression, individual achievements and development of creative skills.
Sarah Balkwill 29 March 2011
Our imainative and creative worlds are what define as human beings, give us a sense of who we are in the world. The arts are essential in develping this side of us. Without them we deny young people the very essence of what it is to be a comleete human.
Malcolm Green 29 March 2011

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