Cultural Learning Alliance

A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.

Caitlin Moran
The Times, 18 August 2011

News

Policy and Practice Round-Up March #2

Published 31 March 2011
 

In this bulletin we bring you; more discussion on the E-Bac, a summary of recent cuts to HE funding, a chance to lobby for new local authority statutory duties, the Curriculum Review, music education, the forthcoming Henley Review of Cultural Learning, a call from the Children’s Commissioner to listen to young people and the DCMS Select Committee Report.

Conversations about the English Baccalaureate are still very much on-going. Despite Michael Gove’s statement that he ‘loves it the way that it is’ there are rumours of new developments such as; the ‘Advanced Baccalaureate’, the ‘Technical Baccalaureate’ and the possible inclusion of English Literature within the magic circle of qualifying subjects. There is no news yet on whether the arts will be included, but this article from The Independent shows the clear impact that the E-Bacc is already having on arts teachers  and subjects in schools.

This week the Department for Education published some additional school league table data detailing how schools are doing across all 84 GCSE subjects. You can read the BBC analysis and some illuminating comments by the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders here.

Are the arts hardest hit by HEFCE cuts to university funding? The Guardian has published a breakdown of the cuts which indicates that a large number of arts specialist universities have had significant reductions.  This may well account for the increasing number of universities who have declared that they will be charging the maximum £9,000 tuition fees for their courses (or thereabouts), and for the disappearance of arts and PGCE courses across the country.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced a review of LA statutory duties and has launched a public consultation which closes on 25 April 2011. This an opportunity for us all to lobby for cultural learning as a statutory duty and ensure that the current duty for libraries is kept in. The CLA will be responding on behalf of our signatories, but it is important that as many people as possible make their thoughts heard.

We sent out a newsletter last week with a link to our ‘How-to Guide’ to responding to the curriculum review. But just in case you missed it; here it is again. Even if you only have ten minutes, use it to champion the arts in schools.

Music education remains a live issue, as we await the development of the National Music Plan recommended in the first Henley Review. In Bedfordshire, as in other LAs, the cost to parents has increased as the implications of the cuts set in. This Guardian article highlights the issues.

The Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are currently preparing plans for a second Henley Review into Cultural Learning. Here you can read a Letter to the Henley Review sent by the Cultural Learning Alliance to the review team and Ministers welcoming the plans and sharing our own ideas and terms of reference.

Children's Commissioner Maggie Atkinson has urged us all to listen more to children and young people when developing policy that concerns them.

The Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport finally published its report on funding for the arts and heritage. Here's what Charlotte Higgins said about it in The Guardian. Despite a great deal of discussion at the oral evidence sessions, and a large number of written submissions from the cultural learning sector, children and young people do not feature particularly within the report and there are few direct references to our area of work.

However, the report does acknowledge ‘the concerns of arts organisations across the board about the reduction in arts spending by local authorities, in combination with spending cuts from the Arts Council and notes that the impact of this “double-whammy” could be disastrous for some arts bodies’.

The report also makes the following statements on the abolition of many of the arts and heritage bodies:

‘The Report notes the surprising decision to abolish the UK Film Council, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the Public Lending Right. The Committee disparages the Government’s lack of dialogue with these bodies during its review, as well as the surprising way they were informed of their abolition. The Report also raises concerns that the Government’s decision was taken without any clear idea of which bodies would take on their respective functions.

With regard to the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Committee is concerned that the Arts Council – itself under pressure – will not be as effective a replacement and urges the Government to review its decision again in 2012.’

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