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


What can the government do for children and cultural learning? We want your views.

Published 15 June 2010

The Coalition programme for government for the next five years has been set out and comments have been welcomed from the public. There are separate programmes for schools, families and children, and culture, Olympics, media and sport.

For schools, the government want to “ensure high standards of discipline in the classroom, robust standards and the highest quality teaching”. For families and children they want to “make our society more family friendly, and to take action to protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation”. While for culture, Olympics, media and sport they wish to “promote excellence in these fields, with government funding used where appropriate to encourage philanthropic and corporate investment”.

There is nothing in any of these programmes of work which signals government’s programme for cultural learning. Maintaining free entry to national museums and galleries and reforming the National Lottery should be beneficial, in that more funding will be available for the arts and heritage. But will changes to teacher training and development, or curriculum freedoms, consider cultural learning?

We want to know what you think.  What can the government do nationally, to help you deliver a cultural offer to children and young people locally?

Let us know what you think by commenting below.


Having looked at the policies outlined in Culture, Olympics, media and sport, I’m struck by the fact that the programme seems to limits its targets for culture to the very narrow area of museums and galleries. They simply don’t address the other myriad art forms that make up the country’s cultural sector. A very important omission is the vital role cultural organisations play in young people’s education. Over the past decade, theatres, concert halls, opera companies, museums, film studios, galleries and music venues have been able to offer young people invaluable learning experiences in the arts. These were supported in part by enlightened government initiatives driven by a core belief that young people’s sense of self-efficacy, their ability to express themselves creatively and communicate effectively are all developed through positive engagement with the arts. If the government wishes to ensure ‘robust standards’ in education as it states in its policy document, then this essential dimension of young people’s education cannot be overlooked. Similarly, if the government wishes to realise its aim of ‘promoting excellence’ in cultural fields, then young people must be given the chance early in their school careers to discover and develop their artistic talents. This can be done most effectively through promoting diverse cultural learning opportunities, delivered in partnership with our country’s schools and arts organisations.
Lynne Gagliano, Education Associate, Royal Court Theatre 15 June 2010

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Arts Award participants at Royal Manor Arts College, photo Kirstin Prisk
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