Motion to Take Note
My Lords, I am very pleased that we are having this debate today concerning arts education in schools. I welcome to this Chamber the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, and I very much look forward to hearing her maiden speech. I also look forward to hearing the speeches of all noble Lords, as we have represented in this debate a wide range of experience of the arts as well as expertise in education. I come to this debate as someone with two points of view: as an artist, and therefore with a particular concern for arts education—I declare an interest as a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design in Education—but also, as is true for other noble Lords, as a parent.
A week ago today my noble friend Lady Kidron led an important debate on children’s digital rights on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 31 of the convention, which is quoted at the top of the Cultural Learning Alliance’s manifesto, states that nation signatories shall,
“respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity”.
Comparable wording stressing a minimum level of arts education is expressed by Darren Henley in the first recommendation of his 2012 cultural education review, which has been fully endorsed by the current Government.
Implicit in the UN definition is that arts education is a good in itself. I would go further: education is a good in itself. It is not merely a preparation for work, nor even necessarily a preparation for life, if we consider that a good education will instil in the child a constant curiosity and questioning about the world—a love of lifelong learning. The arts are and should be an integral part of that vision.
The excellent Library briefing states the Department for Education’s definition of the arts as comprising art and design, music, drama, dance and the media arts. More particularly, we might also cite literature—English literature having a special place in the curriculum—the decorative arts, including craft, and architecture, as well as film and the digital arts. “The arts” is a traditional term, but the arts themselves are both old and brand new. Indeed, as we speak, artists in many media are making new work in new forms, reacting to the world as it is today and discovering new technologies. At the outset, then, I say that it is vital that schoolchildren are exposed to contemporary art and contemporary drama—for instance—as much as to Michelangelo or Shakespeare. The teaching of visual literacy in schools, which many, including Sir Nicholas Serota, see as an essential aspect of life in the 21st century, should involve a critical understanding of new art as well as old.
However, when as a parent I ask myself what I want from a school education for my nine year-old child, I would say yes to access to the sciences, the arts, the humanities, to languages—I would love my child to learn a second language fluently—and access to sport. As a parent, then, I want to see a broad-based education where my child is exposed to a range of subjects. If we are thinking about the whole child, as I certainly am, we should be giving careful thought to what goes into the making of that whole child. As Clara Oswald in “Doctor Who” says:
“The soufflé isn’t the soufflé. The soufflé is the recipe”.
Eggs are good and milk is good, but it is that mix of ingredients, the interplay between contrasting subjects, that is the vital heartbeat of an excellent education.
That is why the Education Secretary is so wrong when in her recent speech at the launch of the “Your Life” campaign she stated that arts and humanities subjects will not give young people the skills that they need to pursue a career. She is wrong because she seems to understand education only through the narrow prism of the labour market. An attack on the arts is an attack on education as a whole and on the fundamental importance of a balanced education. Denigrating the arts means also devaluing the sciences, as would be true the other way round.
Her speech also contradicts what employers in the UK are beginning to understand. The CBI said last year that a significant number of firms needing employees with STEM skills and knowledge had difficulty recruiting because they were not rounded or grounded. The Royal Bank of Scotland said only last week that it now wanted to employ arts graduates because it believed that its economists and mathematicians showed too much so-called linear thinking, which the bank had the temerity to suggest was in part responsible for the financial crisis—and it might be right. For this kind of education to take place in schools, which is where it starts, the arts, sciences and humanities subjects need to maintain their integrity as identifiable subjects in their own right. That is why I am talking about arts subject, not about creativity. The arts need to be treated as significant equal elements within the school educational system.
It is a sad reflection on our educational system that the case for an arts education in schools needs to be made, because arts subjects are under threat in a number of significant ways. To be fair to this Government, although there are specific current issues which need to be addressed, this has been true for a while. Since 2003, the number of students taking art and design GCSEs has fallen by 13%, music by 10% and drama by 23%. Overall, the take-up of GCSE arts subjects has fallen by 28%.
Then there is the question of the national curriculum itself. It currently makes very little mention of either dance, which is only included in PE, or drama, which has been removed from English and, unforgivably, given no curriculum place from the ages of five to 14. Film and the media—and I have already mentioned one of the country's great broadcasting exports—now receive no mention at all. It is excellent that the Government are introducing computer coding into schools, but there is no mention in the curriculum of the digital world in relation to the arts, although in various ways this is already an important aspect of the arts and creative industries. The status of arts subjects is also plummeting in other ways. We are seeing the continuing development of an ever more layered hierarchy of subjects within the system of performance measures. This is already having a real effect on the take-up of exams and indeed on the choices on offer in schools.
The EBacc has not gone away. Early last year we had a full and public debate on the EBacc when it was rightly criticised from all sides for its prescribed bias against the arts. Its effect remains as insidious as if it had become a full-blown qualification. In the debate in your Lordships’ House on 14 January 2013, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones said:
“I have never seen the creative sector so united against what appears to be a two-tier approach by the Government to educational qualifications”. —[Official Report,14/1/13; col. 551.]
Now, with Progress 8 and the double weighting of maths and English, arts subjects will lie at the third and bottom tier of the new system. The University of the Arts London has said that this has damaged the perceived status of art and design in the eyes of parents and within some schools. In its 2014 Educator Survey report, the National Society for Education in Art and Design says that more than half the heads of departments agree that the EBacc has played an important role in the organisation of the art, craft and design curriculum. The take-up of arts GCSEs has declined by 13% since it was introduced in 2010. UAL, the NSEAD and the Cultural Learning Alliance all recommend that the Ebacc performance measure be dismantled. How can the Minister defend this hierarchical system now so hugely biased against the arts? In terms of accountability, are there any plans for Ofsted to recognise and comment on the quality of the arts in its reports?
There is also the effect of the amalgamation in 2013 of many arts subject discount codes, a further performance measure that is having a serious effect on options. For noble Lords who do not know, subjects given individual codes count individually, while those with joint codes do not. We are grateful to the Government for listening to the arts education community so that this year dance and drama and fine art and photography were separated, but it is a case of two steps forward following numerous steps back. UAL and the NSEAD point to the still unseparated GCSE and AS-level fine art, graphic communication, textile design and 3D design subjects. Comparing these and certain closely related but separated maths subjects, for instance, it is illogical that the maths subjects can often be taught by the same person while the arts subjects are distinct specialisms that may well need different teachers for those subjects to be taught to an adequate standard.
Over the past four years, there has been a decline of 7% in arts teachers and, crucially, a 6% decline in arts teaching hours. The last month showed an increase in the number of allocated places for arts teachers, but the significant flipside to this is that many of the teachers will be taught within a school setting rather than coming through university PGCE courses. The Government talk about good teachers as though somehow they drop from heaven, but good professional specialised teachers provide a necessary value for teaching that would not otherwise occur. It will increase the possibility that teachers can teach more than one specialism in the arts when the need arises. They are more likely to provide a greater in-depth knowledge of the subject and an understanding of both the wider educational and arts professional frameworks.
I want to say something about the initiatives, programmes and partnerships that this Government are encouraging and/or funding. They vary in scale and scope from smaller ones, such as the BBC's partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation to bring real paintings into the classroom and the new partnership between the Tate and the popular computer game “Minecraft”, through to the Sorrell Foundation art and design Saturday clubs and the ambitious setting up of the 123 music hubs. Many of these programmes are imaginative and to be welcomed, as is the money that the Government are putting into them, but I argue that they should be the icing on the cake. They are in some cases very good icing but they are not the cake, and should not be the basis for a national school arts policy. As a means of solving the problems that exist in schools, they are inefficient because the money does not go directly to the schools themselves. None of these programmes addresses all schools, either in terms of the curriculum itself or in terms of the provision of resources. Some funding will be intentionally selective in its application, such as for the National Youth Dance Company, which will target only the “brightest young dance talent”. The point then is not one of quality but, as UAL says,
“additional programmes ... do not have the capacity or reach to engage with young people across the country and should not be considered a substitute for a high quality art and design offer in schools”.
National Drama says that the RSC Learning Toolkit, while useful,
“is not an acceptable substitute for a national curriculum for drama, with a broad programme of study for Drama that needs to be arrived at through democratic consultation”.
In the excellent music debate led by my noble friend Lord Aberdare on 24 October, two major related themes emerged. One was a concern about the patchiness of the reach of music hubs and, secondly, that deprived areas in particular would not be sufficiently addressed. The problem is that music hubs will always be inherently patchy. They simply do not directly address the real concerns, which are the funding, provision and encouragement of music and the necessary resources, including costly instruments, within schools themselves. A comparable problem, of course, exists for the provision of art materials and resources for art and design courses. As the Cultural Learning Alliance points out, the money put into these programmes does not replace the funding that in other ways is being removed, with education funding in real terms dropping by 13% between 2010 and 2014. There are also the knock-on effects of cuts to the arts themselves and the reduction in Arts Council portfolio organisations, the reduction in outreach and the inevitable isolation of some schools as a result.
The DfE states that 21% of schools with a high proportion of free school meals withdrew arts subjects in 2012. The Child Poverty Action Group said in a report earlier this year that, for poorer children, cost—that is to say, the increasing hidden costs now occurring within state schools—was a factor when deciding whether to study subjects such as photography, art, music and design and technology. There is a real danger, highlighted recently by the acting profession, that the arts will become a province only of the rich. We need to get the emphasis back to schools and the funding and provision for arts subjects within them so that there can be universal access to arts education, replacing a current policy based on piecemeal initiatives. We need to reform performance measures so that arts subjects have a proper place again within the school curriculum. This will be healthy for education, for society and for the labour market. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his eloquence in introducing the debate. I, too, look forward to the speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. I declare an interest as a member of British Actors’ Equity; I have held that membership for some 50 years.
I want to make the moral case for arts in education—first, by giving a personal perspective. Growing up in the East End of London, the son of a docker, from the very day I was born my life was set out before me. I failed my 11-plus and I went off to my secondary modern school as a rebel in search of any cause. It was then that I discovered drama—or, rather, a drama teacher discovered me. Then there was the wonderful experience of going to see “Oliver!” in the West End of London when I was 11 years old, leaning forward in those cheap seats that we used to call the gods, and thinking, “I never, ever want this to end”. The irony was that I was discovered in a secondary modern school singing in the end-of-term school show, and within three months I was playing Oliver in that very same West End production.
That changed my life for ever. Before that I had no concept of theatre, performance arts or even of drama as a subject. Suddenly there was a focus for the energy that made my father boast—at least, I think it was a boast—that if I had not gone on the stage I would have ended up in prison. I began a career as an actor that lasted 37 years. It taught me so many things. This is why the arts, drama, music, film and media studies—everything that the noble Earl outlined—are so important in education, because they affect every single thing that we do.
I am talking not only about communication skills, which some of us have and some of us do not, but about confidence skills. At how many moments during the day do we stand up thinking, “I can’t do this”? Somehow, though, we have learnt to masquerade and pretend that we can, and we carry it off because we have the ability to imagine that there is another idea, another option. The team-building and discipline that come from the arts in education last for the rest of people’s lives.
The idea that we have to choose between arts and sciences is utter nonsense. The two are married together. Indeed, it was learning the disciplines as a young actor that allowed me, in my mid-20s, to study science and to achieve, in 11 months, my O-levels and A-levels. I could never have done that if I had not had the courage, the confidence and the ability to imagine.
I am going on far too long about me, though, and it is vital that I say some of the things that I have properly prepared to say. What I have said so far explains why I believe that all students should have access to drama as a subject in schools, taught by specialist trained drama teachers with qualified teacher status. Drama is a distinct art form and should have its own subject status, separate from that of English, in both primary and secondary schools. If drama is to be engaged in before GCSE level, that requires trained and qualified drama teachers in secondary schools, and in primary schools it requires high quality in-service drama training as a minimum.
Currently there is a significant and deepening inequality of drama provision in schools, and some schools provide none. There should be equality of national curriculum status for at least the five main art forms in schools: art and design, music, dance, drama, and film. The Department for Education has never given any reason why the different art forms are given differential status and attention. It is vital that we be told why it has that opinion, because it affects not only us but generations to come.
Children and young people can now go through education and receive no direct or specialist drama teaching at all. There is a real concern that drama could get parcelled out as “vocational”, to the financial benefit of theatres. We could see only children whose parents can afford it being able to study and engage in drama and the creative arts. That is why my right honourable friend Harriet Harman has said so often that creative and cultural learning supports attainment in all subjects, including literacy and maths. Research has shown that taking part in arts activities at school can make up for an early disadvantage in terms of likelihood to progress to further education as well as in employment outcomes.
I say with due respect to the Minister that I believe the Government are going in the wrong direction on art and culture, and the arts are in danger of becoming more remote from children from working-class backgrounds, such as me, and children in disadvantaged communities, as well as remote from young people in our regions. The whole government narrative around the English baccalaureate, as the noble Earl has said, which the arts community fought so valiantly against, sent a damaging signal to downgrade the arts in education. The number of children sitting arts GCSEs is declining—music is down 9%, drama is down 13% and film is excluded from the curriculum altogether. Teacher training places in arts education have been cut by 35% and the number of specialist arts teachers has fallen. This makes no sense in terms of the creative industries and the arts. It makes no sense in wider educational terms.
We do not want the children being educated now to live in silos. We want them to imagine and to connect. We want them to imagine that there are other ways and other approaches. In the end, it is art that defines us as human beings. Therefore, we underinvest in these subjects, and in this generation and future generations, at our cultural, moral and economic peril.
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for introducing this timely and interesting debate on the arts in education. I declare an interest as a patron of Creative Skillset, the creative industries’ sector skills council.
On Tuesday this week, I had the privilege of attending a service at St Margaret’s for the Girls’ Schools Association where the school local to me in Guildford, St Catherine’s School, provided the choir for the service. It sang among other things an especially commissioned motet taken from excerpts from poems of Maya Angelou. It was both moving and beautiful. As the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, said, the children of those parents who can afford it have a very broad education. They often have a longer school day and highly specialist facilities, which provide them with an excellent and outstanding education in all areas, including the areas of the arts.
As far as state schools are concerned, I was cheered by reading the foreword provided by Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey to Cultural Education: A Summary of Programmes and Opportunities, published in July 2013—a very recent statement of the Government’s ambition is for arts education. It states:
“The arts are the highest form of human achievement. Through art we not only make sense of ourselves and the world, we also make our lives enchanted. Art allows us to celebrate our common humanity and communicate across boundaries. Artistic endeavour marks us out from the rest of nature as creators and celebrators of beauty. That is why no education can be complete, indeed no programme of education can even begin, without making the arts and creativity central to a child’s life … England’s many successful schools put culture at the heart of their curriculum and we want all schools to be able to emulate, indeed surpass, those which are currently outstanding … We will encourage more schools to offer a wider spread of creative subjects with a new accountability framework for secondary schools”.
Why, then, have we now had two speeches pointing out the drop in the number of GCSE arts subjects being taken, the very substantial fall in the number of teachers being trained in arts subjects, and the real decline in drama, dance and the graphic arts in our schools? It is not necessarily down to the national curriculum. As far as the national curriculum is concerned, the briefing paper we have received tells us very firmly:
“Arts subjects are compulsory in maintained schools in England until the age of 14. They are not compulsory national curriculum subjects after the age of 14, but all pupils in maintained schools in England have a statutory entitlement to be able to study an arts subject as part of their key stage 4 education”.
It is not the lack of the arts in the national curriculum, or even the lack of concern for the arts. It is, I think, an unintended consequence of the accountability measures that we now impose upon our schools.
Mention has already been made of the EBacc. The subjects that fall within the EBacc are English and maths, two sciences, history, geography and a modern foreign language or a classical language. I, for one, am very pleased, in some senses, that there is a broader education within the EBacc, but it is sad that the arts have been downgraded and not given the same status. I have to confess that I am very concerned indeed about what is happening with the arts in our primary schools, where emphasis on SATS in year 6 often drives the curriculum. Lots of very good primary schools get over it, but some that are less good are absolutely terrified by the need to get good SATS results and have narrowed down the primary school curriculum to the three Rs to too great an extent. We want to expand it but at the moment it is not expanding.
As we all know, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl. It is vital that we feed a love of creativity in to our young people. The development of their imaginations in primary schools comes from play, but too much of that play has gone out due to the emphasis on phonics and achieving the required standards in phonics at the age of five or six. There is too much testing and too much teaching to the test, pushing out the creative parts of the curriculum.
As everybody emphasises, the creative industries are now expanding faster than other industries. For many years people poured scorn on media studies, yet actually, as the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, mentioned, with the bringing together of computerisation and digital technologies and the arts technologies, institutes such as Arts University Bournemouth and Bath Spa University, which concentrate on these things, are finding it very easy to find jobs for their graduates. It is graduates in geography and history who often have difficulty in finding jobs.
Many times from these Benches I have called for more emphasis on maths and science education. I have been very much a champion of the STEM subjects because I have been very worried about the drop in the numbers of young people taking STEM subjects. However, I have also been somewhat critical of the narrowness of British, and particularly English, education, and the fact that at age 16 we have to narrow things down to three A-levels. This has led to a divide between the arts and the sciences. I would have liked to have seen us move in the direction of a broader curriculum for 16 to 18 year-olds—something equivalent to the international baccalaureate.
I therefore end with a plea not for STEM but for STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. We want them all together. We want to provide a broad education for our young people—one which gives them the best foundation for moving forward in life.
My Lords, I agree with everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has said. I regard this subject, the provision of arts—and, in my case, music in particular—in schools as vital. Thus I am much indebted to my noble friend Lord Clancarty for securing this debate. I cannot endorse more warmly his plea for the appreciation of contemporary arts, because it is not just in Shakespeare that we find out about ourselves and the society we live in; it is in the contemporary arts as well, and Shakespeare would have been the first to say so.
I take this opportunity, since it is the first I have had, to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, to our midst. It is great to have another member of the artistic community, and one who has done so much for the gay community through the auspices of Stonewall, which I have long supported. It is also wonderful to be able to welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. I look forward to her maiden speech with anticipation.
Why do I see this debate as so important? It is because I have seen the quite magical effect that music and the arts can have on young developing minds. Furthermore, objective research supports the fact that music, in particular, often gets through where other things fail. Yet, as we have heard, we have to set against that the fact that in the period from 2010 to 2013 there was a drop in the number of GCSE students taking art and, in particular, music and drama, according to the Department for Education’s figures. I wonder whether this is something that causes the Government concern. I very much hope that it does.
There are schools in which children get no exposure to music or theatre or to singing in a choir—that quintessential activity that many noble Lords still partake of in the Parliament Choir. Singing collegiately is a quite wonderful way of developing the ability to be a team player, to listen to others, to blend in and to communicate. Singing a great choral work with a lot of your friends can be a completely overpowering and binding experience.
Not all children conform, thank goodness, to stereotyping, and it is in the arts and music that many find nourishment and a natural home. Let me give my own experience as a somewhat unusual child. I did not initially thrive academically—I am clearly a late developer—but the music master, a Mr Lambert, saw something in me and encouraged my composition and my playing of the organ in the school chapel. At the same time, I took part in drama productions, and there I learnt to speak in public with a degree of confidence and even extemporisation—a quality that some noble Lords may have cause to regret on occasion—so when I presented the Proms on BBC television, for example, I was not so afraid of the camera. Indeed, I rather relished it. My point is that the faith that two schoolmasters involved in the arts showed in my potential saved me from a possible scrapheap—perhaps not, like the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, prison. The number of successful people who have appeared on my Radio 3 programme “Private Passions” who have ascribed their chance in life to visionary arts and music teachers is quite staggering.
I know the Government are receptive to wide educational remits, but there are real gaps where theatre and music, in particular, are concerned, so here are three definite and distinct questions for the Minister which he might be able to help me with. Will the Government aim to make singing a weekly event in every school? Will they aim to make music and drama part of the curriculum in every school? Will they aim to help disadvantaged children to get musical tuition, currently the privilege of the rich? It is true that the hubs have begun to have some patchy success in this area. The Government have rightly saluted the income which the creative industries bring to the economy of this country. However, to secure that income for the future it is essential that the children who will be the performers of tomorrow—string players, for example—are able to start young. We have to get to young minds, young fingers, and young, still-developing muscles.
Beyond these practical points, there is the aesthetic, spiritual, transcending outlet that music and the arts afford young, and sometimes turbulent, minds. There are, of course, many calls on the Government for funds in different directions, but I passionately believe that they discard this particular call at their peril.
My Lords, it is a privilege to make my maiden speech on the important subject of education. I declare an interest as the director of New Schools Network, an educational charity that helps groups set up new, independent state schools. I begin by thanking all noble Lords and the staff of this House for the warm welcome they have given me. In the few weeks that I have been here, I have experienced the genuine kindness and tremendous assistance for which the House has such a well deserved reputation. I particularly thank my two supporters, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish of Furness.
My first challenge on being given this honour was to select my title; not something I ever expected to do. I chose Bowes Park, the area in Haringey in which I have lived for over 10 years. The heart of Bowes Park is Myddleton Road, named after the constructor of the New River, which flows through the area and was built in 1613, providing London with fresh drinking water ever since. Once a bustling high street, Myddleton Road fell into decline for many years but it is now showing encouraging signs of regeneration, thanks to a passionate local community. A new open-air gym—part of our Olympic legacy—a regular street market and, most excitingly, the opening of a café and gallery by two local entrepreneurs, are all playing their part in helping to revitalise the area.
I am delighted to become the youngest female member of the House, an honour passed on to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. In doing so, I am also delighted to have doubled the number of noble Lords sitting in this House under the age of 40. In the 1984 presidential election campaign, a 73 year-old Ronald Reagan said that he would not make age an issue and exploit 56 year-old Walter Mondale’s youth and inexperience. I hope your Lordships will show me a similar indulgence.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating this debate. I was fortunate enough to go to Henrietta Barnett, an excellent state school, and am well aware of the advantages it gave me. I already know from this debate that your Lordships will agree that all children are entitled to a good education. Because of this, it has been a privilege for me to be involved with free schools: first at Policy Exchange, helping to develop the programme, and most recently at New Schools Network, supporting teachers, parents, charities and community groups in actually setting them up. I am all too well aware of, and have seen at first hand, the passion and dedication of those committed to improving education in their local communities. Across the state education system we are seeing the real, positive impact that giving freedom to our best teachers is having on raising standards, particularly for some of our most deprived pupils. There is exciting innovation: to name just a few of these, we are seeing the first bilingual schools; new approaches to teaching maths, drawing inspiration from the Far East; and schools that have a no-excuses culture, which helps raise the aspirations of their students.
On the subject of this debate, Britain has an unparalleled cultural heritage. Today, as has already been mentioned, our creative industries are worth more than £70 billion a year to our economy. It is imperative that our education system equips young people with the skills and knowledge to take advantage of the opportunities in this dynamic sector. At New Schools Network we have been delighted to support a number of new schools which have taken an innovative approach to arts education.
East London Arts & Music is a school that has direct involvement from some of the biggest names in the music industry. Its mission is to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in that industry, be it as technicians, producers or artists. The world class Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts has opened a primary school whose creative curriculum draws on that city’s rich heritage. Wac Arts uses the performing arts to re-engage young people who have struggled in mainstream education. As has already been made clear in this debate, a well rounded education is fundamental to ensuring that young people make the best possible start in life. It should be available to all, regardless of their background, and must not become a luxury for those who can afford it.
In this globally competitive world, young people need to develop confidence and resilience. They need to be able to communicate effectively and think creatively. Research demonstrates that participation in the arts can help pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop those characteristics. The importance of arts education across the state sector must not be underestimated. I hope that my short contribution today shows my commitment to ensuring that all young people get the best opportunities in life. I look forward to contributing to the work of the House in this and many other areas.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak after the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park. Her absorbing maiden speech was dignified by her commitment to education and her history in public policy and both will be of great benefit to this House. I was particularly glad to hear her speak of the value of arts to those young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I join all Members from all sides of the Chamber in welcoming her to this debate and more broadly to the work of the House, in which I am sure she will play a formidable role.
I also must thank my noble friend Lord Clancarty for making such an excellent introduction. I want to associate myself with absolutely everything he said. He is tireless in bringing this subject to the House and admirable in the way and the seriousness with which he does so. I have many interests in this area, which are all recorded on the register.
I have considerable sympathy for the Secretary of State for Education, the right honourable Nicky Morgan MP, who earlier this month made a clarion call for girls to take up science and maths at school. As a camerawoman and film director of 35 years’ standing, I am familiar with the obstacles inherent in stepping outside traditional gender roles. However, in valorising the sciences she chose to pit art and science against each other. Her given reason was that the,
“world is changing beyond recognition, at a pace unmatched by any other point in history”.
In that explanation, I felt that she was mistaken. Rather than requiring this binary opposition, the new world demands a mix of skills. A world with infinite information requires us to filter what is useful and to imagine the content and source of that information. A world delivered digitally not only requires digital literacy but visual literacy in order to understand and to contribute to its predominantly visual language. A world in which user-generated content is a primary economic driver demands one to be one’s own photographer, publisher, graphic artist and computer programmer, whether one is a hotelier, an academic or a journalist.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a world designed as a network of networks, there is an emphasis on teamwork. Global companies which invent “disruptive” businesses with their flatter, leaner hierarchies work across projects deliberately in cross-functional and multidisciplinary teams. In schools, young people learn to work together in drama, sport, dance and film, all of which are disciplines in which a common objective and not just individual attainment is key. In the GCSE drama course, one’s grade actually depends to some degree on the performance and discipline of one’s peers. For our new world, that is indeed a precious lesson.
At school, the young learn visual literacy from graphics, design, art, photography and film, though, as other noble Lords have said, film is no longer mentioned in the national curriculum for the first time in almost two decades. In school, critical thinking is developed across all of the humanities and the arts, as well as science and maths. In short, the skills necessary for our world are present right across the curriculum.
This text from the home page of the MIT Media Lab embodies the culture of the rapidly changing world to which the Education Secretary refers:
“The MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas”,
“in more than 25 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable electric car for sustainable cities, to advanced imaging technologies than can ‘see around the corner’”.
On a visit to the Media Lab last year, I met musicians, philosophers, social scientists, mathematicians, medics and linguists. There was one woman whose entire research trajectory was about the colour of words. This is the world into which schoolchildren of today will emerge.
However, the narrative from Her Majesty’s Government appears to be that the arts are not central pillars in their vision of education. The EBacc, the emphasis on STEM subjects, discount codes and the new Progress 8 all structurally devalue and destabilise the place of arts in the curriculum. As a result, we are witnessing the inevitable gravitation, even in good schools, towards those subjects against which their performance is judged. The Department for Education’s own figures indicate a disproportionate fall in the hours of arts teaching and the number of arts teachers since 2010.
I am not arguing for the arts alone; I am, as the Minister knows, a passionate advocate of digital literacy across the entire curriculum and have argued for greater investment in teachers’ professional development to deliver the Government’s excellent computing curriculum. As I have said, I support wholeheartedly the Secretary of State’s call for girls to do science and maths, but it is simply the case that many, if not most, of the new workforce will have to have a complex matrix of skills and the fluidity to move between them.
I hope that other noble Lords will refer in detail to the extensive evidence on the role of arts in supporting social mobility, but I will briefly make this point: if we deprive disadvantaged young people of access to the arts on a measurable basis in school, we will create a situation where cultural capital will be the preserve of the already privileged. This will, in the future, decimate the pool of talent that we now enjoy right across all the art forms.
I also put on the record the value of the arts in and of themselves: they are transformative and life enhancing and reflect what it means to be human. In their own right, moreover, they are a major contributor to GDP. Like top independent schools that see no reason to privilege one discipline over the other, the Government should not present a binary choice, but promote arts and science as single virtuous circle.
I therefore ask the Minister: given that our new world requires young people to have multiple skills, should not an arts subject be explicitly included in the Progress 8 measure? Should not the EBacc be dropped as a supplementary accountability measure? Should not the Government narrative be “STEAM not STEM”, because it is this narrative that determines funding, training and infrastructure, and ultimately the provision of arts in our schools?
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl for securing this important debate, congratulate the noble Baroness on her maiden speech and thank other speakers for their contribution. I, too, am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design in Education, which is so well served by the noble Earl and our chair, Sharon Hodgson. The APPG was set up to champion high-quality and inclusive arts education in our schools in the belief that art, craft and design are essential not only to our economy but to the cultural, creative and social well-being of everyone.
The Labour Party has always recognised that the arts are for everyone, for each and every individual and all our communities. However, I think that we all share a vision of every child having the chance to learn about the value and thrill of culture. I look forward to the speech of my noble friend Lord Smith of Finsbury because, under his stewardship, the previous Labour Government were able to ensure free admission to all our national museums and galleries which, I am pleased to say, the present Government have continued to support—although it is sad that museum visits by schoolchildren have decreased by one-third.
As has been said, the Government’s thinking in this area has been a little muddled, to say the least. The previous Culture Secretary supported STEM to STEAM, but that was at the same time as the then Education Secretary was busy devaluing creative education through the introduction of the EBacc. The new Education Secretary has waded in and compounded the problem by announcing that the best way to get a job is to drop arts and humanities, although the Culture Select Committee said in a recent report that,
“the crucial role of arts subjects … should be recognised and that art subjects should be added to the STEM subjects”.
Surely no one wants our young people to be denied fulfilling their unique potential, nor do we want the creative industries’ success story to stall. The Select Committee also recommended that a Minister from the Department for Education should attend the Creative Industries Council. Will the Minister say whether that has happened or will happen?
A quarter of schools withdrew non-EBacc subjects from their curriculum this academic year, and art was one of the most commonly withdrawn, according to Ipsos-MORI. Figures from the National Society for Education in Art and Design show that, since the introduction of the EBacc and changes to the discounting codes, the number of young people sitting arts GCSEs is in decline. The reduction in arts training places has resulted in fewer specialist arts teachers, and fewer hours are taught. The number of design and technology teachers has also been hit.
As the noble Baroness just said, it should not be a binary choice between STEM and art and design: both are important. For example, the Royal College of Art is running highly sought-after joint masters degrees with Imperial College London. According to Steve Jobs,
“technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
In that regard, I welcome the Government’s introduction of coding into the curriculum, but the video games industry needs artists as much as computer experts. That is why the Labour Party has commissioned an independent review, led by John Woodward, the former head of the UK Film Council, to consider, among other things, how better to link up education and training with the needs of the creative industries and the digital sector.
Literacy, numeracy and creativity are what the modern global economy demands, and I am sure that we have all enjoyed the excellent book, The Virtuous Circle, by John Sorrell, Paul Roberts and Darren Hanley, which has been sent to all of us for this debate. Sir John and Lady Frances Sorrell’s work on education, particularly in the area of design, have helped successive Governments, and I welcome their support for the newly formed Creative Industries Federation, because design is the bridge between arts, science, technology and business. Design has been defined as the,
“specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints”—
I apologise, because the last clause could have been written by the Treasury. However, it shows that design is relevant in almost every situation or environment.
For many years, I have been visiting the New Designers exhibition. It is the UK’s largest graduate design exhibition, showcasing the work of more than 3,000 of the very best graduates across a host of disciplines from 200 of the UK’s top art and design universities and colleges. It helped launch the careers of Thomas Heatherwick, Bethan Gray and Matthew Williamson, to name a few. I strongly recommend that your Lordships take the opportunity to visit the exhibition next year. You cannot walk away from that exhibition without a smile on your face after being enthused by the talent, potential and enthusiasm in the hall. A poll of this year’s students showed that almost half of them see themselves setting up their own creative businesses in the next five years, thereby adding to the creative capital in the UK. However, if the trend for young people at key stage 4 not to be able to access art and design courses continues, where will the new designers of the future come from?
This year the New Designers exhibition hosted two “creative Saturdays”, which offered children and young people their first taste of the professional design world. This was part of the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club, which offers young people aged 14 to 16 the opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university—free of charge, with half of them located in the most disadvantaged areas. They hope that 2,500 youngsters will be taking part by 2018. However, this is a programme aimed at complementing the curriculum, and it is not a substitute for one.
As Europe’s largest specialist art and design university, UAL, has said, the additional programmes funded by the Department for Education, like Saturday clubs, do not have the reach or capacity to engage with young people across the breadth of the country. Those young people need teachers who have had access to professional development. Ofsted has recommended that the Department for Education should explore how teachers could,
“improve the teaching of drawing and widen the impact of contemporary crafts-based initiatives”.
Craft skills generate over £3 billion for the UK economy and it is exceptionally worrying that GCSE craft courses have fallen by a quarter and higher education courses by a half. Will the Minister say whether the department is taking up the Ofsted recommendations and whether he is in favour of an annual subsidised entitlement to professional development programmes in art, craft and design?
Michael Gove said that he wanted state schools to be indistinguishable from the best fee-paying schools. The Cultural Learning Alliance interviewed the heads of some of the leading fee-paying schools in the country. All were of the view that cultural learning improves children’s attainment and that it is a duty to their children and their parents. Tony Little, of Eton College, told the Cultural Learning Alliance:
“By limiting the subjects that are valued, the EBacc is downgrading and reducing the potential for achievement”.
Does the Minister think that by not adding art to the STEM subjects we are on course for making state schools indistinguishable from fee-paying schools? Is it not strange that parents who pay for education expect a cultural offer but there are different expectations for the education provided through taxation? Unless art and design education is supported and encouraged at the very beginning of a child’s journey, there will be untapped potential for that child and for our country.
My Lords, this is a very timely debate and I too thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating it, and I certainly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a maiden speech full of passion and commitment for education—which I very much applaud.
I am not an artist. I am not a designer. I am certainly not an actor. In fact my art teacher described me as the most boring pupil he had ever encountered. I thought this was a touch overstated, but it was a setback to my creative ambitions and left me with few options but to become a bureaucrat—which I did. I subsequently sought to rehabilitate myself and have been vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London, which has already been mentioned, the chair of the Design Council, the chair of FILMCLUB, with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, helping me, and I am now vice-chairman of Shakespeare’s Globe—an organisation which, without public money, works with more than 120,000 young people every year, creating productions with and for students. In those various capacities, I think I have come to understand the power of arts education, as well as its importance to young people, to society and to our economy. I want to give some specific reasons why we should champion the cause of arts education.
For a start, it enables young people with talent for the arts to develop their potential. Not everyone excels in the traditional academic subjects—as we have heard—but education must be about ensuring that every child fulfils their potential. We have a responsibility to ensure that our young creative talent has that opportunity, too. As the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, said, it also develops confidence. It develops the capacity to communicate and to present effectively. These are essential social and employability skills, which we know that many school leavers lack. As a result they struggle to engage, to find work and to assert themselves in society.
Arts education often helps children with learning difficulties to participate on a level playing field. I have seen countless moving examples of pupils who generally find school difficult coming alive in drama classes, in dance classes and in the arts generally. They are excited by the chance to play a full part in class activities, at last feeling a true equal. It also builds our creative engine for the future. Our creative industries fuel our economy, not least in London. They not only produce GDP, from a sector which is growing three times as fast as the rest of the economy, but provide the UK with a major international profile. That does not happen by accident. We have to develop the creative skills that we need, and we have to do that early. We cannot leave it to further and higher education.
Arts education helps to develop an understanding and an appreciation of the creative arts, which will enrich lives throughout the adult years, not only improving immeasurably people’s quality of life but building in our society a demand for the arts. In effect, arts education builds tomorrow’s appreciative and discerning audience. It teaches pupils the importance of resilience, determination and, yes, the need for courage. People used to be surprised when I spoke about courage at the university. However, what struck me quickly upon taking up that job was that arts students needed to have not only application and sustained effort but the courage to expose their work to criticism, some of it ill informed. That may, after all, be very good training for the next generation of politicians.
It helps pupils to work effectively in teams because art is rarely an isolated experience. Drama, dance, music and design are examples of where you need to work together to be successful, and that equips young people with another key life skill. It helps people to develop the ability to innovate and be creative beyond the boundaries of the creative arts. Our businesses need people who can be creative and think laterally. They need people capable of using their initiative—with the possible exception of the banking sector. They need people who have learnt the importance of challenging the accepted wisdom. Exposure to the arts and to the mindset of artists at an early age begins to build those invaluable capabilities. It also teaches you how to solve practical, not theoretical, problems. There is a danger that education can, too often, become concentrated on theories and not on practices.
Finally, your Lordships will be glad to hear, it provides the sheer joy of creative achievement. What can compare, for example, with being involved in a successful performance after weeks or months of rehearsals, setbacks, challenges and learning? That is a unique feeling, and one which will stay with you for the rest of your life.
I do not think that there is another subject which provides the same return on investment but it is essential that government recognise that, and recognise the arts as a core exam subject, as others have said, if that subject is not to become seen as second class. If it is seen as second class, teachers and students will walk away from it. They will vote with their feet. We have already had some statistics but it is worrying that the numbers of GCSE drama students has fallen by 25% in the past six years. Equally, it is important that Ofsted gives due regard to arts education in its inspections and more clearly defines what cultural development means, within the Ofsted guidance for inspectors, because we all know how significant Ofsted inspections are to schools. At present it is just one part of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and that is not good enough. We need to do better than that.
But I am in danger of proving my art teacher right and I do not want to detain the House unnecessarily; I want to end on a slightly lighter note. One of the things that people often tell you is that the arts cannot really cope with complex and difficult issues. Let me tell you that the arts are a way of helping young people to address the really complex and difficult issues. I have always loved the story, told by Sir Ken Robinson, of his going into a drawing class one day, sitting down alongside a young lad and saying, “And what are you drawing?” The young lad said, “I am drawing a picture of God”. Ken said, “But no one knows what God looks like”. The young lad responded, “Well, they will do in a few minutes’ time”. Never underestimate the power of the arts.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for a most informative speech. He gave us a lot of statistics about the decline in the teaching of the arts in recent years. I do not want to repeat what he has said, but the points that he made were very forceful and I hope that they will be noticed and taken into account by the Government in considering what their policy towards education in the arts should be.
Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, I was a very privileged schoolboy. I should like to speak about that and how it has affected me and my outlook. Before I do so I want to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a most passionate and informative speech. I look forward to hearing her in the future.
The privilege that I enjoyed was to be educated as a schoolboy at a private school in the west of Scotland, the Glasgow Academy, which at the time was the sole private school. The interest in the arts in that school was enormous. We had a school choir and when I started in it, it was led by the organist of Glasgow Cathedral. Subsequently we had another man who went to the University of Aberdeen and focused greatly on outreach, bringing in people who otherwise would not have the opportunities of the wider possibilities of the arts. I was entranced by the possibility of acting, but, with it being an all-boys’ school, as a young boy I was given largely female parts. I have acted as queen to King Richard II, Olivia in Twelfth Night and, in my last year, as Cinderella; but I also had the good fortune to be cast as Hamlet in my last year at school. I believe that this whole experience over the years gave me a greater degree of confidence than otherwise I would have had.
On the musical side, the head music teacher gave us all a big surprise when we came in on the first day of the first term, saying, “Under your desks there are 25 violins. I want you all to take them out and we will try to engage you in this”. The result was that a great many people went on to learn stringed instruments. I was lucky enough to become the leader of the school orchestra. I was very conscious of how privileged I was, and having heard this debate, which has been unanimously supportive of the arts in education, I would like to hear from the Minister in his reply how the Government will systematically restore the arts to their proper place in wider schooling and education.
We have had indications of the importance of creativity and the creative industries to the economy. It is not only true that this subject occupies many people and that there is a risk that this will decline if we do not stimulate education at the beginning, there is also another aspect: the arts bring in visitors from abroad and are hugely advantageous to our tourism. There is no city in the world like London in respect of its broad spectrum of arts, which cater for all visiting interests.
The extraordinary decline in professional arts teaching is something we must seriously regret. There are Ministers within the Government who are helpful in this. Edward Vaizey constantly talks about it and was reported earlier in the context of an article he had written with Michael Gove. However, the present Secretary of State for Education seems to be opposing the arts in favour of science. That is a great mistake. They are not exclusive. Indeed, music is highly mathematical. I cannot understand why the Secretary of State is indicating that if you do one, you cannot do the other. It is not inevitable that someone advantaged by education in the arts will be tied into an artistic career. For my part, I thought about it but decided to become a public international lawyer. Such a career was not excluded because I had spent a lot of time being involved in the arts. Even so, it is possible for people to proliferate their interests by becoming public international lawyers but also writing librettos and operas.
I commend that renaissance attitude to the Government and look forward greatly to hearing how the Minister believes that they should stimulate arts in education.
My Lords, I join in thanking my noble friend for introducing this debate. I also join in congratulating our youngest Member on her maiden speech. We hope to hear much more from her, especially on the subject of teaching and the freedom that teachers in free schools may have to adapt and improve the balance that they can introduce into their schools.
I was also deeply moved by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cashman. He took the subject that I was going to talk about briefly this evening. We have had many debates on arts education in the House. I normally find myself talking about music education, in which I have been involved since the golden age of instrumental teaching in the late 1950s and 1960s. I have continued to feel very strongly about the kind of opportunities that ought to be given to children and were given to them when the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, first picked up his violin from under his desk.
Today I want to say something about teaching the visual arts, although I feel rather ashamed of speaking in such an amateurish way, after hearing the extremely professional speeches of my noble friend Lady Kidron and the noble Baroness, Lady Nye. I pick on the visual arts simply because I think that, if a parent has a child who is enthusiastic and talented musically, it is usually possible, if you have the money, to find very good teaching outside school, even very good choirs and orchestras on Saturday mornings to fill the gaps that perhaps the school is not doing anything to fill.
In the case of the visual arts, it is very difficult to find any parallel way of getting your child taught art. In fact, you probably do not think of doing such a thing. I therefore believe that schools have an overwhelming responsibility for teaching children in the visual arts from a very early age. This is not only a matter of allowing children to have the fun and experience of self-expression. Some children do not particularly enjoy expressing themselves through the visual arts. However, a good teacher of art teaches children to look; to see things that they probably would not look at or see otherwise. A lot of us—grown-ups as well as children—scurry along the street or tear down the motorway without looking at what we are passing as we go. The talent of looking and seeing needs to be followed up with being taught—it needs teaching—the skill of representation, which is a very natural human instinct, as we know. Thousands of years ago, human beings were representing what they saw on the walls of caves and so on.
If children are not taught to see and properly look at things in school, they are being deprived of something that is almost like a new sense of what the world is like, what their place in it is, and how they can contribute to the things that people want to look at. Of course, this is not just a matter of teaching children to draw or to paint, although these skills are crucial, as any practising artist will tell you. You must be able to draw before you can do anything. It is also a matter of seeing what is a good design and what is a bad design. It does not matter whether the object is a chair, a building, a window or a cushion cover. The ability to look and to discriminate between something that is worth doing and something that is rubbish needs to start at a very early age and to be taught in school, because it will not be taught outside school. The failure of maintained schools to keep up this tradition of teaching art as an integral part of the curriculum is socially undesirable, if not disastrous.
Every Government has been in danger of this, and the present moment, with the utterances of the current Secretary of State, is a particularly good one to raise this point. Successive Governments have tended to take the attitude towards art teaching that Sir Keith Joseph once referred to as the “leather blotter view” of the arts. That is, a leather blotter may be an agreeable thing to be given, and you put it on your desk, but it is totally dispensable. Everybody can live without a leather blotter. That attitude is certainly exemplified in what we have most recently heard from the department, which I find incredibly depressing.
Therefore, let us, and the Government, give up that view. Otherwise, I fear that what will happen, which is happening increasingly, is that students who enter architectural schools and design colleges, join a national youth orchestra and maybe go on to become professional instrumentalists—all these people who enter the artistic world, which includes the world of design—will come from middle-class or relatively affluent families. That is not only grossly unfair to all the talent there is in children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but is the most appalling waste of talent. We have only to think of people such as the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, and David Hockney to realise that there is no class distinction in talent in the arts. We waste one of our greatest assets as a country if we fail to allow the disadvantaged end of the school population to benefit from the kind of teaching they ought to have. That is especially true in the case of the visual arts because, as I say, it is very difficult for any parent, however enthusiastic, to substitute for the teaching of the visual arts skills that their child ought to be getting at school.
My Lords, I join my colleagues in thanking the noble Earl for introducing the debate, and not least for his opening remarks. I share his pessimism about the present situation at government level. We have a great deal to worry about; other speakers have given examples.
I look back to a bit of luck in the sense that for my first 13 years I lived in Berlin. I do not like to talk about those days for obvious reasons, but as regards the particular subject that we are discussing today, I wish that we were like Berlin in those days. It is very simple. The society as a whole—leaving aside Hitler and all that—always regarded music and the other arts as totally central to our lives. That was reflected in the schools, so my school life, in an ordinary state school in Berlin, was packed with all the arts, notably music. I was lucky in that respect because it was not just about playing but about participating in all possible ways. I was even luckier because when I came to this country at 13 my parents had the good sense to choose a school which was also passionate about the arts. All those who stress the importance of what happens in one’s early days are right. That is when it has to be started and also when one has a great deal to worry about.
I shall confine my remarks to two subjects. First, I shall say a few words about music, simply because it has been my passion and almost predominant activity during my long life. I declare an interest as a trustee, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, one of the major philanthropic foundations in this country. It has given a great deal of money to the arts for a very long time, partly due to its founder, Paul Hamlyn, who also came from Berlin and had a passion for the arts.
I recall a particular moment, about 12 years ago, not long before he died. I had become so worried and disappointed—and angry, in a way—because, if I remember the figures correctly, at that time only 11% of secondary school children went on with music beyond the moment when they were allowed to give it up. The rest just could not wait to give it up because it was badly taught and there was not much enthusiasm in society as a whole for the young to get into the arts. That led me to persuade Paul Hamlyn to give a great deal of money—many millions over the years—to what we came to call Musical Futures, which is a method of teaching music in a totally different and attractive way. Teachers had to be taught how to do it in a way that attracted youngsters. It has been running for 10 years in secondary schools and has succeeded quite well. Results have been good. It is now about to go private and will be replaced in our foundation by other activities related to arts education.
We started by inviting Katherine Zeserson from Sage Gateshead. She has written a wonderful report called Inspiring Music for All, which is the foundation for other things that we might now discuss and fund. It is clear from everything we know and from what others have said that part of the problem is the teaching profession. Teachers are poorly taught; they teach poorly and quite a few schools are without a head of music. It is a disgrace. There is a great deal to be done and we may set up a commission to deal with it.
My final point is that it is not simply about having more rather than fewer music teachers, or drama teachers, or literature teachers. It is not just that specialist teaching needs strengthening, it is also about the influence of the arts on the whole life of a school and on all the teachers and pupils. We must not think purely in terms of the specialist side of the subjects, although they are important. There is a great deal that can be done and, of course, what ultimately matters is the outside influence. The good news is that the BBC is getting more and more active—the local authorities less so—and the Government, as other colleagues have said, want this to be done. But it is a declining area when it ought to be a growing one.
My Lords, I begin by expressing my interest as a patron of the BRIT school in Croydon and as chairman of trustees in the Wordsworth Trust and the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, both of which have substantial educational and school engagement programmes.
The case for the overwhelming importance of arts education in our schools has been compellingly made by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, in introducing this debate and by the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, in her excellent maiden speech and by all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. On a personal note, I add what a privilege it is to speak for the first time in a debate alongside the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, who has been a dear friend and comradely fellow campaigner for many years.
The case for the arts in education has also been compellingly made by Sir Ken Robinson in his outstanding report some 15 years ago, by Darren Henley in the two reports that he has produced more recently and by many other studies—as well, of course, by a multitude of successful examples in school after school up and down this country. Why on earth, therefore, is it not a more automatic part of the curriculum and rhythm of school life and educational provision in this country? Some schools shine, while many do not. It depends on individual teachers and head teachers and individual circumstances. It should not have to be a lottery; we should be aiming for all schools to shine in arts provision.
This is not just a nice to have thing—it is an essential. I say this for two fundamental reasons. First, education is all about drawing young people to fulfilling their fullest potential in all senses and ways, and that has to include engagement in the arts, culture and creativity. It is about lifting horizons and exploring new ways in which to see and understand the world. It is about understanding humanity and emotion and what makes us all the people we are; that is what education is all about and it is what the arts fundamentally can offer to education.
I take just one simple example, taking place out of school rather than in school, but the principle is exactly the same, a thing called the Hartcliffe Boys Dance Company, started in Bristol many years ago by a visionary man called Vic Ecclestone. Instead of lowering horizons for the teenage boys on the Hartcliffe estate in south Bristol, an area of enormous deprivation, he decided to lift their horizons and introduced them to the power of modern dance. Not only that, but he persuaded them to write, perform, choreograph and video an opera about the Prometheus myth.
This was not teaching kids how to be a good DJ; it was about really challenging them—lifting their horizons and enhancing their life skills. The excitement and the sense of achievement and self-worth that they were able to achieve through this transformed not only their lives but the entire estate that they lived on. This is incalculably rewarding. It ought to be part of the warp and weft of our education provision, for whoever, from whatever background, to benefit from.
Let us not forget the importance of creativity in subsequent employment and career opportunities, either. This is not just about the creative industries, devoted though I have been for many years to the promotion of their role in our economy. They are, of course, hugely important, and account for about 6% to 7% of our national economy. Creativity matters elsewhere across the economy as well, in all other businesses and public organisations.
Yet what do we do about creativity for our school pupils? We squeeze it out of them. A child of five will sing and dance, express themselves, paint and make music with free abandon and enormous creativity. We then spend the next 10 years of their educational experience teaching them that that is not important. It is, and we should teach them that it is. We should encourage children to continue with creative spirit, if they have it.
I have one more thing to say. When I was Secretary of State for Culture, I was very proud to have established what we called the creative partnerships programme. It was about linking artists, performers, creative businesses, directors and producers with schools in some of the most deprived areas of this country. It gave pupils the chance not only to experience and learn, and to enjoy the arts, but to practise the arts: to direct a play, to make a movie, to compose a piece of music, to design a dance—and to paint, to act, to dance, to design and to make music. It was not just about enjoyment and experience and preparation for creative careers; it was also about enabling the whole of the rest of the school to benefit from the experience that those pupils were having. In Ofsted inspection after Ofsted inspection, the schools that were part of the creative partnerships programme outperformed other schools by miles. That programme has now been abandoned. I was very sorry to see it go, and I hope that one day, either it or something very like it may be put in place once again, to lift the lives of countless pupils up and down the country.
My Lords, I join in the congratulations to my noble friend the Earl of Clancarty on obtaining this excellent debate, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on her splendidly well judged maiden speech. I declare my interest as a member of several music-related all-party groups, including the Parliament Choir; my membership of the latter may mean that I have a rather limited amount of voice left after the concert last night. Apart from that, I could probably have outdone the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, in terms of my total lack of artistic talent in my schooldays.
At this stage in the debate much of what I planned to say has already been said, which I regret may not prevent me from repeating it, probably a good deal less eloquently. I share the concern expressed about the recent words of the Secretary of State for Education, which I will not repeat again but with which I profoundly disagree. STEM subjects are vital, not least in developing skills needed for employment, and we need more young people to study them to a higher level. However, they are not alternatives to arts and humanities subjects but complementary to them. We need from our education system rounded individuals with not just STEM-based skills but the sorts of skills better developed by arts subjects including creativity, imagination, innovation, team work, discipline, self-esteem and entrepreneurship. I agree entirely that the emphasis should be on STEAM, not STEM.
There is no shortage of evidence, both anecdotal and research-based, for the beneficial effects of arts education. Much of that was set out in a very helpful Library note produced for this debate. The list of benefits cited in research is a long one. Beyond those skills that I have just mentioned, it includes reading skills, general literacy, language acquisition, maths, visual and spatial intelligence, working memory, brain plasticity—whatever that may be—thinking skills, personal and social development, confidence and motivation to study. That is just a selection that I took from the literature. Many of those skills are recognised, not least by employers, as key skills for the digital economy of the future.
Perhaps in the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, I might remind noble Lords that the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, which he chairs, is ranked third of 154 higher education institutions in the country for employment, with 98.8% of UK-domiciled students in jobs or further study six months after graduating. Of the two institutions ahead of that one, both with a score of 100%, one is the Royal College of Music. So much for arts and humanities not helping to enhance employability.
I will now focus more specifically on music and ask whether our schoolchildren are getting what they deserve in music education, and indeed what they are promised by the Government’s commendable and visionary national plan for music education. There are many excellent and inspiring music education activities and initiatives around the country. On Monday I attended an outreach programme supported by the Worshipful Company of Musicians at Argyle Primary School in Kings Cross, one of 84 outreach programmes this year. Two groups of children listened in thrall to a young violinist from Estonia talking about and demonstrating her instrument. Many of those children, mostly either Bangladeshi or Somali, were themselves learning to play the violin, while others were learning the tin whistle. Apparently, that reflected the interests of the previous teacher with a passion for the ceilidh.
The pianist James Rhodes’s “Don’t Stop the Music” campaign on Channel 4 included an instrument amnesty, which led to more than 3,000 instruments being pledged for donation to 150 schools so that their students could learn on them. This morning I visited the Royal Opera House Thurrock, which is involved in an impressive range of education programmes, including the new Thurrock Trailblazer project initially involving 21 local schools, with plans to extend to all 52 schools in the borough.
I have heard about numerous other brilliant initiatives backed by the BBC, the Mayor of London, the City of London, Sistema England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and many more, not forgetting the DfE itself and the Arts Council. There are lots of good news stories, yet the whole seems somehow to add up to less than the sum of its parts. A review published in July for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation found that,
“the quality and reach of schools-based music education is still unacceptably variable and inconsistent—at both primary and secondary”.
As we have heard, the numbers taking music GCSEs are down from almost 54,000 in 2007-08 to about 42,000 in 2013-14. A recent ABRSM report states that:
“Sustained, progressive music education tends to be the preserve of children born to wealthier parents … 40% of children from the lower social grades who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn at school”,
yet Arts Council research shows that students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree. I have a number of questions to ask the Minister focusing on the music education plan, but also relevant to other arts education more widely.
First, what can he do to ensure that Ofsted takes music and arts education more formally into account in its inspections? We know how important Ofsted inspection results are in determining priorities for schools, so why can it not be made a requirement for a school to offer good or outstanding music and arts provision in order for it to be rated good or outstanding overall? That might also help to convince some of the more sceptical head teachers and governors about the merits of arts education.
Secondly, what steps will he take to improve the availability of teachers with the necessary training and skills to teach music or art? The shortage of skilled, confident music and arts teachers is a constant refrain, yet I understand that, for example, the primary teaching module that was developed as part of the national plan for music education receives no funding from the department.
Thirdly, what can be done to improve the availability of information about what is actually happening in schools across the country to identify areas of weakness and to disseminate and promote good practice? The monitoring board originally set up as part of the national plan has been redesignated as a cultural education board, but nothing has been published on its actual views about the progress being made.
Fourthly, what can the department do to broaden the impact of schemes such as “Don’t Stop the Music”, so that more schools benefit from them? The national plan needs to embrace such initiatives, so as to enhance its effectiveness in reaching those parts that have so far proved difficult to reach.
Lastly, what can be done to ensure that the available funding addresses the challenges posed by geographical areas and categories of students that are currently not getting the benefits that they should, and also to reassure music education hubs that they can plan ahead in the confidence that their funding is likely to continue at its current level beyond 2016? I look forward to the Minister’s response and, following his encouraging answers to the first Question this morning, which I was sorry to miss, perhaps he should consider giving it in Latin.
My Lords, I do not think I am going to rise to that challenge. It is a pleasure to respond to this debate and I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for giving us the opportunity to raise these crucial issues, despite the air of pessimism that we seem to have engendered as the debate has gone on. I feel that I am among old friends here, with some new conscripts added. I particularly welcome the contribution of my noble friend Lord Cashman, whose personal testimony and insight this afternoon captivated us. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Evans, for her incisive and articulate maiden speech. I look forward, given her education background, to debating education policy with her at length in the future.
I mentioned old friends from around the Chamber, because when we have debated these issues in the past, we have reached a wide degree of consensus about the value of the arts and creativity in their own right—an importance that I think we all agree needs to be grounded in education from an early age. We also acknowledge its wide reach into our economy, our health and well-being and our society as a whole. As a number of noble Lords have said today, the creative industries have been acknowledged to be growing three times as fast as the national economy, and now make a contribution of more than £71 billion. So it is a worthwhile cause in itself.
However we measure it and through whatever prism we view the contribution of the arts, their significance to our society is impressive. In previous debates on the arts, Ministers responding have agreed with the central premise. How could they not, since the evidence is overwhelming? I am sure that the Minister will do so again today and will give us examples of some lovely projects and initiatives that have been introduced in schools during this Government’s reign. It would be churlish not to welcome them, and we do—but, sadly, they do not make up for the more substantial losses affecting arts education overall. As the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, said, they should be the icing on the cake, not the cake. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, said, when there is a piecemeal distribution, we risk cultural capital becoming the preserve of the elite and the privileged. We are in danger of that now.
Ultimately, the Government will be judged by their overall record of support for the arts—and, as we have heard as the debate has gone on, this has left us with a series of very serious questions. For example, we have debated several times the effect that the disastrous reorganisation of the curriculum has had on the teaching of arts subjects. In retrospect, it was clearly a mistake to announce an EBacc system that gave no priority to arts subjects.While this has now been supplanted by the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures, which have slightly more flexibility, the take-up of arts subjects at GCSE is continuing to fall. Meanwhile, the important issue of discounting the value of arts subjects against each other continues to rumble on, with an inevitable negative impact on the take-up of certain arts subjects. To compound the problem, teacher-training places in arts education have been cut by 35%, as we have heard, with specialist arts teachers inevitably being cut and affecting the quality of teaching at all key stages in the future.
Yet we have heard from several noble Lords about the transformative impact that an inspiring, qualified art teacher had on them. We have also heard that arts activity at primary level has been cut by almost a third and after-school cultural activities are also being cut back. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, that hot-housing at primary level and the lack of play have a corrosive effect that needs to be addressed.
Thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, we had an excellent debate on music hubs a couple of weeks ago—a policy which at that time we all supported. But even there the Minister was forced to admit that, despite some notable exemplars, their coverage was patchy and that disadvantaged children were particularly losing out in the provision.
What are we to make of Nicky Morgan’s more recent speech to which noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others referred? Will the Minister let us know if he agrees with her comments? Of course we want to encourage more young people, particularly girls, to study more STEM subjects, but you do not do it by rubbishing arts and humanities and saying that they will not lead to decent careers. After all, 34% of chief executives from FTSE 100 companies have an arts background. How could she get the message so wrong, and what does this tell us about the Government’s commitment to arts subjects in the future?
Surely what we want to encourage is a broad education which embraces a mixture of arts and science, literally transforming STEM to STEAM with the arts taking their rightful place, perhaps even with universities offering more courses that combine arts and science disciplines. I applaud the joint master’s degree initiative at the University of London to which my noble friend Lady Nye referred. More of those sorts of courses should be offered. We want young people to be both creative and analytical and to have an education which ceases to stereotype them by the subjects they study and builds on their individuality.
As the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, said, investment in arts education is more than the sum of its parts. We all seem to have quoted Professor Ken Robinson this afternoon, and I have my favourite quote, which is that,
“creativity, like learning in general, is a highly personal process. We all have different talents and aptitudes and different ways of getting to understand things. Raising achievement in schools means leaving room for these differences and not prescribing a standard steeplechase for everyone to complete at the same time and in the same way”.
Surely this quote captures the very creativity that will shape our lives in future.
That is the real challenge to this Government going forward. As several noble Lords pointed out, it is also that creativity that employers are craving their employees to demonstrate; it is obvious that film-makers need digital and visual literacy, that drama teaches confidence and communication, that engineers also need to be designers, that scientists need innovation skills and that craft skills are crucial for practical application.
So what would an alternative approach to arts education look like? It would make it a priority that that every child should have the opportunity to engage in the arts throughout their education, and we are consulting on how to make that happen. It would ensure that children from disadvantaged families do not miss out in the knowledge that access to high-quality arts and culture helps to close the attainment gap in educational outcomes. It would give every child a regular programme of access to the arts to see theatre and dance productions, to hear a wide variety of music and to visit museums and galleries. It would give every child opportunities to express themselves: taking part in art, drama, music and theatre, and learning how to perform on stage and create their own art.
It would reverse the negative messages about the importance of the arts in the performance and attainment measures and reject the binary choice between science and the arts. It would review the implementation of the music hub programme and consider how the aspiration that every child should learn a musical instrument and experience whole-class ensemble teaching could really be achieved. It would be imaginative in using new technology to support children’s creative learning. It would consider whether Ofsted should be able to rate a school as outstanding if it does not provide an outstanding cultural and arts education. It would build on the proposals for wrap-around education for primary schools from 8 am to 6 pm, and develop an exciting programme of extracurricular cultural activities, welcoming arts experts into the school to run workshops and short courses. It would also work with the Arts Council and the National Skills Agency to provide more high-quality apprenticeships, as an alternative to university, in the arts and culture sectors.
The previous Government had a great record of promoting and supporting the arts. Their achievements are too many to list here, although a number of my noble friends have already done so. However, those working and learning in the sector know our values and our record and will have confidence that we can deliver for them again. I will be interested to hear whether the Minister supports our aspirations for arts education provision in the future and I look forward to his response.
My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, on securing a debate on this important subject. I also congratulate the other speakers on their contributions. In particular, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on her eloquent maiden speech. We have worked closely together on free schools and I have been immensely impressed by her judgment and analysis. I am sure that she will make a very valuable contribution to your Lordships’ House.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Nye, mentioned, many noble Lords will have seen the book, The Virtuous Circle, by Sir John Sorrell, Darren Henley and Paul Roberts, published earlier this month. It makes the argument that cultural and creative activities and learning should form a vital part of the everyday lives of all young people. It is a compelling argument and I commend it to your Lordships. However, most of us already know that a rich cultural and creative learning experience is an essential part of a good education, particularly for those disadvantaged pupils who may otherwise have a cultural deficit which will hold them back. That point has been made by many, including Diane Abbott, who has articulated it so eloquently.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, referred to the danger of the arts becoming the province of the rich. Sadly, it is true that that has, proportionately, been the case for some time. This is the most socially immobile country in the developed world. That is why the Government are particularly focused on improving the life chances of disadvantaged children and arresting the decline in academic and cultural education which took place under the previous Government.
No one should be in any doubt that the Government fully accept the case for arts education in schools. We recognise the arts as an integral part of children’s development, and believe strongly that every child should experience a high-quality arts and music education throughout their time in school. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others made the case that arts subjects should have an equal place in the curriculum. Arts subjects do have the same status as many other important subjects. To answer some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, music, art and design are statutory subjects in the national curriculum, so every child in a maintained school must study these subjects from the ages of five to 14. Singing is included in the national curriculum. Pupils must also study drama as part of their English studies, as well as dance. Dance has been a compulsory element in the curriculum at key stages 1 and 2 for some time and, since September, it has been compulsory at key stage 3.
It would not be appropriate, of course, to force students to study arts subjects at key stage 4. Children need to choose options that reflect their individual interests, strengths and future career choices. Children do not have to study arts subjects at key stage 4, nor do they have to study humanities, languages or design and technology. However, all children in maintained schools must be offered the opportunity to study history or geography, a modern foreign language and design and technology. They must also be offered the opportunity to study at least one subject from the arts entitlement area, which includes music, art and design, drama, dance and media arts. These are not soft subjects; they combine creativity and practical skills with academic rigour. Our reform of GCSE and A-level exams is designed to ensure that all exams are equally challenging.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and others asked about the role of Ofsted. All state-funded schools are required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils, and Ofsted inspects against that. It is currently consulting on increasing the emphasis in the inspection framework given to the breadth of the curriculum.
Prior to January 2012, inspections included a minimum of 27 graded judgments with four additional early-years foundation judgments and four additional sixth-form judgments for schools with these settings. We slimmed down the number of judgments from a maximum of 35 to four to focus Ofsted inspections more clearly, and that was warmly welcomed. However, we will be interested to see the outcome of the consultation.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and others mentioned changes in relation to accountability measures and how they will affect arts subjects. From 2016, the Government will remove the existing headline attainment measure of pupils achieving five or more A to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, which has encouraged schools to place far too much emphasis on lifting pupils over the C/D borderline. The shadow Secretary of State has acknowledged the mistake of the previous Government in focusing exams far too much on what he called the great crime of the C/D borderline. We have introduced the EBacc as a first step to a fairer accountability system.
I have listened to many speeches stating that the arts have been downgraded by this Government. I have stated that that is not the case and I will statistically disprove it shortly, but we must also recognise our starting point. This Government came to power facing some depressing facts about our education system. We started from an extremely low base. We slumped down the education international league tables under the previous Government and, at the end of last year, the OECD told us that our 2012 school leavers—Labour’s children—were the most illiterate in the developed world, coming 24th out of 24 countries for literacy and 21st out of 24 for numeracy. That is shocking.
Under the previous Government, the number of pupils taking a core suite of academic subjects fell from 50% to 22%. In my view, that Government practised the greatest confidence trick ever perpetrated on the British public; namely, the scandal of the misuse of equivalents, under which subjects that were of little real value were overvalued in the GCSE equivalent tables. Subjects such as a higher-level BTEC diploma in fish husbandry were equivalent to four GCSEs, despite the fact that there were no exams and it was all coursework. Other favourites of mine are cake decorating and hazard control. We have stopped that and, thanks to the policy of this Government and partly to the EBacc, the number of pupils now taking a core suite of academic subjects—so essential to those pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to make up for cultural deficits—is now back up by 64%. The assumption that under this Government the curriculum has changed from one that is rich in the arts for many students to one that is not so rich is false. Under this Government, it has changed from one which for so many pupils consisted of a curriculum of English, maths and some low-value so-called vocational subjects to one that is far broader in terms of academic and cultural subjects. That is the reality.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, talked about the effect of the EBacc, and the fact that it has led to a fall in the number of pupils taking GCSE music and to a decline in other arts subjects. I am pleased to have the opportunity to put the record straight. The number of GCSEs taken across all subjects has fallen nationally since 2010 as the cohort has reduced and as more children have taken vocational exams. Therefore, it is no surprise that the number taking GCSEs in music and the arts has fallen. Since 2010, the number of entries in all key stage 4 exams in music has gone up by 7%, in art and design by 4% and in drama by 3%. The average number of key stage 4 exam entries in arts subjects per pupil has stayed level since 2010. In 2014, more year 11 pupils took GCSEs in arts subjects than in 2013, including more than 3% more in music, 6% more in art, 10% more in performing and expressive arts, and 11% more in media, film and TV studies.
That is possibly the result of the fact that we are now introducing the new Progress 8 measure, which will be the only measure used for secondary school floor standards. This will look at pupils’ progress over eight subjects—English, maths, three further EBacc subjects and three other high-value qualifications. Up to three arts subjects per pupil, including music—the noble Lord, Lord Moser, will be pleased to hear—will count, as will grade music exams at grade 6 and above. Including eight subjects will encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, rather than to focus their attention on only five subjects. As a result, schools will have a greater incentive to offer a range of arts subjects, to allow pupils to study more than one arts subject, and to teach those subjects well. The average number of GCSEs or the equivalent that pupils take is now more than 11, so pupils will be studying a broader sweep of subjects than eight and it is likely that many of them will be arts subjects.
The new progress measures will also incentivise schools to focus on improving the grades of all pupils, and coasting schools with strong intakes will be encouraged to get the best from their pupils. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, referred to the recent speech of the Education Secretary on STEM, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I do not think that the Secretary of State thinks that STEM subjects are necessarily more useful than the arts and humanities, but we need to improve the take-up of STEM subjects, as we are doing. We believe that a balance of STEM subjects, humanities and arts subjects will equip pupils to thrive in modern Britain. Indeed, the Secretary of State is a great believer in building character, for the formation of which a curriculum rich in the arts is so important.
It is important for pupils to study the arts for a variety of reasons. The noble Lord, Lord Bichard, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, spoke about the contribution that the arts make to the UK economy and the skills that are needed by the creative industries. My noble friend Lady Evans, the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, and others suggested that studying arts subjects has a positive impact on a variety of skills that all employers find attractive: teamworking, confidence and communication skills. These are important, but they are not the whole story. Participation in the arts helps build character. Children and young people who apply themselves learn the value and rewards that come from hard work and practice.
Even without all those benefits, however, we believe that arts subjects are worthy of study in their own right. They are part of our cultural heritage. Children’s education is not complete until they have learnt to dance and to take part in drama, or until they have learnt to draw, paint and work with clay and other materials. It is not complete until they have learnt to sing, play a musical instrument and compose, or until they can understand staff notation, without which many musical doors will remain closed to them. All children should have the chance to study the work of great artists, craft-makers and designers, the work of great composers and musicians, and the work of William Shakespeare, the greatest of English playwrights.
Today, people of all ages still enjoy singing, dancing, playing instruments, acting and making art. The latest Taking Part survey shows that 99% of children aged five to15 have engaged with the arts in 2013-14. The recent Making Music report by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music shows that more children than ever are playing musical instruments: 76% of five to 14 year-olds say they know how to play a musical instrument. That is up from 41% in 1999. However, 15% of five to 17 year-olds said that they had never played an instrument, and 40% of the children from lower socioeconomic groups who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn one at school. We need this to improve. A child’s economic background should not determine whether they are able to play a musical instrument, or whether they are able to continue to play and make progress.
Our music education hubs were set up with four core roles: to ensure that every child aged five to 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through whole-class ensemble teaching programmes; to ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people; to provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform; and to develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil sings regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area. The hubs will receive at least £17 million more in 2015-16 than they did in 2014-15 to help them make a reality of this vision. Schools need to play their part, too, by providing opportunities for pupils to sing in choirs and play in orchestras. There are many examples of good practice, and it is wonderful when we can celebrate them.
Earlier this month, at the School Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, in front of an audience of thousands, Katie Crozier from Brampton Village Primary School in Cambridgeshire was awarded with the Classic FM primary music teacher of the year award. When she started at the school, there were eight singers in the choir and no orchestra. Six years on, there is a choir of more than 100 and an orchestra of more than 50. What a wonderful difference one teacher can make.
Secondary schools will, by their nature, have specialist teachers in the arts, as they do in other subjects, but some schools are specialising even more. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, mentioned the BRIT School: an independent, state-funded city college for the technology of the arts, dedicated to educational and vocational training for performing arts, media, art and design and the technologies that make performance possible.
The noble Baroness, Lady Evans, mentioned the East London Arts and Music school and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, a free school. We have funded a further five free schools specialising in the arts, several UTCs and nine studio schools specialising in the arts. My department supports a number of initiatives in addition to those provided by the music hubs designed to ensure that young people have access to good quality music education, which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned.
We support In Harmony, a national programme that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in six deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making. We support Music for Youth, a national music education charity providing free access to performance and audience opportunities for thousands of young musicians across the UK, and we support the national youth music organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, which provides opportunities for the most talented musicians to perform at a high level.
In addition, our music and dance scheme enables exceptionally talented musicians and dancers to achieve their full potential by funding full-time education at eight specialist schools. They include the Royal Ballet School, the Yehudi Menuhin School, Elmhurst School for Dance and the Purcell School, which was home to the winner of this year’s “Young Musician of the Year” competition, Martin James Bartlett. The music and dance scheme also funds training at a network of 21 music and dance centres of advanced training across the country, including the junior departments of all the English music conservatoires. Jointly with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, we fund students aged 16 to 23 through the Dance and Drama Awards to attend a range of 19 specialist dance and drama schools.
Those schemes are great ways to ensure that talented pupils from all backgrounds are able to achieve their potential. We also fund a wider range of cultural education programmes: the Sorrell Foundation’s Saturday art and design clubs, which provide opportunities for 14 to 16 year-olds to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local university or college for free; the British Film Institute’s Film Academy for budding young film-makers aged 16 to 19; the National Youth Dance Company; and a museums and schools programme that aims to increase the number of high-quality educational visits by school pupils from areas which currently have lower than average cultural engagement; the heritage schools programme, run by English Heritage; and an expansion of the Arts Council’s bridge organisations.
In total, we are spending more than £340 million in the three years from 2012 to 2015 on music and arts education programmes. We will be announcing funding for 2015-16 shortly.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned teachers. The proportion of music ITT trainees with at least a 2.1 has increased substantially. Now, 82% of them have a 2.1, which has risen since 2011-12 by 13%. We have increased the range of bursaries; we offer £9,000 for those with a first-class degree. The Government have supported teaching schools to designate 145 specialist leaders of education in arts subjects.
The noble Baroness, Lady Nye, asked about the teaching and learning of drawing. We have improved the emphasis on drawing in the new national curriculum. In key stage 1, children must be taught to use drawing to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination. We have also improved the emphasis on drawing in the proposed content for the new art and design GCSE, which requires students to demonstrate an ability to use drawing skills.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, mentioned discounting codes. As he acknowledged, we changed discounting codes for drama and dance and art and photography, and I believe he welcomed this. If evidence is presented as to why other arts areas are distinct enough, we will of course review the discounting codes.
I hope your Lordships will agree that, together with the policies I have already outlined, this package of programmes demonstrates our strong commitment to arts education. Once again I thank all noble Lords for participating in this important debate.
My Lords, I thank every noble Lord who has spoken in this debate. I particularly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a very valuable contribution, and extend a warm welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Cashman.
I need to say that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber, very much wanted to be here today to talk about his work with schools, but was unable to because of other commitments. However, hot off the press as it were, he has given me a quote which I think makes an interesting observation:
“There is currently no legislation that ensures every child has an entitlement to high quality arts provision throughout their education. High quality teaching and in depth experiences benefits not just individuals, but schools, communities and the wider economy”.
That chimes with the fundamental point that many noble Lords have made: that a good arts education is a necessity. This is apart from the huge importance of the arts and creative industries to our economy, a fact many noble Lords rightly emphasised.
I thank the Minister for giving a comprehensive reply to this debate and answering many noble Lords’ questions. We can certainly argue about the statistics. Significant concern about the future of arts education in schools has been expressed today from all sides of the House. Many have said that the arts need to have a central role in the curriculum. I hope that the Government will take away these concerns and reflect on them carefully. I beg to move.