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Creative Partnerships Scheme

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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What plans she has to extend the creative partnerships scheme. [113832]

The creative partnerships programme is giving children and teachers in 16 pilot areas in England the opportunity to develop their creative talents by working on sustained projects with creative professionals. The programme has been warmly welcomed both by schools and the cultural community, and more areas are eager to join in. We have pledged to double the size of the programme by 2006, and investment in creative partnerships is set to grow from £25 million in the current year to about £50 million in 2005–06.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. As he knows, Barnsley is at the forefront in putting creativity at the very centre of the educational experience for children. May I very quickly tell him about three projects in my constituency? At Worsborough primary school, children are designing a learning environment extending from the classroom to the playground; at Hoyland, children are working with the Barnsley performing arts department to increase and improve communication; and at Springvale in Penistone, a multi-faceted approach has been taken in which children are working with film, sculpture and storytelling to explore the ideas and life of a man called Saunders, a 17th century mathematician from the area. That clearly shows that creativity at the centre of educational experience is worth while. Will my hon. Friend therefore work with the Department for Education and Skills to ensure that creativity is bedded down in the curriculum so that it can give all children the benefit of such experience?

I am glad to hear that my hon. Friend is so enthusiastic about those projects, which are very important. I heard some sneers from the Opposition Benches as he spoke, but the creative industries in this country are responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs and for earning billions of pounds of revenue. Opposition Members might sneer at that because they are living in the 19th century, not the 20th century. [HON. MEMBERS: "21st."] We are in the 21st century; they are not even in the 20th. Like my constituency, Barnsley has suffered enormously as a result of the decline of heavy industry, but is rebuilding its own future. It is doing much of that on the basis of creative industries. I congratulate teachers, pupils and parents in his constituency on embracing this great programme and taking it forward very successfully.

What about some lessons in creative brevity?

I was waiting for somebody to say that, but I did not think that it would be the hon. Gentleman. The cheap cracks are always the ones that get into the news, and I expect that that is why he made that one.

Bearing in mind the success of Barnsley, will my hon. Friend consider rolling out the project to areas such as Bassetlaw, which are crying out to redress the balance in terms of the lack of creative input in schools over recent decades and could happily mirror the brilliant success of the partnership in Barnsley?

I have no doubt that the brilliance of Yorkshire will carry that success forward out of Barnsley and into Bassetlaw.