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Creative Partnerships Programme

Volume 451: debated on Monday 6 November 2006

Creative partnerships is a real success story. It has reached more than 300,000 young people and 1,600 schools. The evaluation of the programme, particularly the recent Ofsted report, has shown that it is having a real impact in the communities that it serves.

I thank the Minister for that reply. I, too, was impressed by what Ofsted, BMRB, BOP and NFER said about children doing better and the creative industries and their workers succeeding as a result of the programme. What will happen next? It has done so well thus far, so can we have more of the same?

Creative partnerships have been such a success that we will, of course, have more of the same. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to press the point. We are seeing more in respect of extended schools, more in our mainstream arts organisations being engaged in schools and more specialist schools choosing the arts option. That is where creative partnerships move from existing only in some schools to existing across the country. My hon. Friend is right to emphasise the success of this particular scheme. Contact with schools from a range of artists is not just for a day or a week; we are talking about prolonged contact with some of our most deprived children. I thought that the most impressive report was the one from head teachers, 70 per cent. of whom said that creative partnerships had driven up attainment across the curriculum. That is why my Department supports the programme and is working closely on it with the Department for Education and Skills.

I may not be alone in understanding none of the acronyms to which the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) referred. I am sure that it is a brilliant programme, but I ask the Minister in all seriousness how it is promulgated, who may apply for it and how.

The programme has existed for some years now. My hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) used those acronyms because she is well informed about the programme. This is creative partnerships, serving schools in our poorest and most deprived areas and bringing young people—sometimes including those in pupil referral units—together with a range of artists. Poets, actors and visual artists, for example, are involved over a prolonged period to help drive up standards in schools. They seek to find new ways of bringing the arts and creativity into schools while having a positive impact on the rest of the curriculum. The programme is in its third phase, so I am rather surprised that the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) is not aware of it.