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Cultural Education

Volume 541: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2012

Together with the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), I am today publishing Darren Henley’s report on cultural education and the Government’s response to its recommendations.

Darren Henley, managing director of Classic FM, sets out a compelling challenge for making cultural education in English schools world class. The report sets out a vision—to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the best that our unique cultural heritage has to offer.

Once again we would like to record our grateful thanks to Darren Henley for his ambitious approach to undertaking a review of this scale across such a divergent sector. His vision for excellence in cultural education is one that we share.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the cultural education sponsored bodies: Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have risen to the challenges posed in the report and who have found a way to work together to address those challenges. We look forward to continuing to work closely with them, and to their increasing support for schools.

Learning about our culture and playing an active part in the cultural life of the school and wider community is as vital to developing our identity and self-esteem as understanding who we are through knowing our history and the origins of our society.

Enjoying and participating in cultural life should be available to all students: it must not be restricted to those young people whose families already enjoy the benefits of participating in cultural activities. No matter what their background or family circumstances, school pupils should have the opportunity to develop their creativity, their relationship with society, and to contribute to the economy in ways that are beneficial to them as individuals and to society.

Cultural education is a valuable part of a rounded education that children and young people should expect to receive, not least on enhanced pupil performance across the curriculum.

The Department for Education is therefore making £15 million available over the next three years to ensure that all pupils can engage in a variety of cultural activities of the highest quality. We want the experience that young people have of their cultural heritage while at school to inspire them to participate actively in the cultural life of the nation throughout their lives.

This is not just about creating opportunities; the real and lasting impact will occur when those opportunities are enjoyable, challenging, of high quality, and when the young people are appropriately supported to achieve. We welcome the collaboration and contribution of the DCMS-sponsored bodies to work with schools and make this vision a reality.

Our intention is to make it possible for every school to introduce every pupil to high quality cultural education, achieving academic excellence, and for young people to contribute to our thriving creative industries, if that is where their talent and passion lies. We are introducing new initiatives, over the next three years, with the shared commitment of the Arts Council England, English Heritage, the British Film Institute and the Heritage Lottery Fund. We shall publish a new national plan for cultural education in which we will set out a clear route for cultural education from early years through to study at the highest level.

As evidence of this shared commitment, a new cross-ministerial group will help the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education work more effectively with sponsored bodies and each other.

We will invite teaching schools to draw up a programme of work, investing £300,000 to develop training and mentoring for new teachers and continuing professional development for experienced teachers. They will work with and be supported by cultural sponsored bodies to ensure all schools have access both to excellent teaching support and a variety of cultural education activities for all pupils.

Museums and galleries will receive £3.6 million to encourage and help all students to experience some of our cultural and historical treasures at first hand. English Heritage will work closely with schools, encouraging them to explore historical sites in their local area.

Our intention is that no talented young person, whatever their background, should be unable to realise their full creative potential. We are therefore investing £600,000 to establish a new National Youth Dance Company so that talented young dancers can aspire to reach the top of their profession, whether that is in contemporary or classical dance. This will match the excellent models we have in the field of music. We will expand the art and design Saturday clubs, based on a model pioneered by Sir James Sorrell, to give students access to high quality specialist equipment and tuition at local colleges and universities. The British Film Institute will lead the establishment of a new National Youth Film Academy, which will receive £3 million from the Department for Education, with additional support from the National Lottery, to support film education for all children and young people. Its aim will be to train the next generation of talented British film-makers.

Our Departments are determined that, together with our arm’s length bodies, our collective resources and expertise will make a real difference to the quality of cultural education experienced by all pupils in all schools.

Copies of “Cultural Education in England”, together with the Government’s response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.