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Teacher Education: Arts, Crafts and Design

Volume 787: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2017


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve initial teacher education in order to ensure a high standard of teaching of art, craft and design subjects in schools.

My Lords, at their most recent Ofsted inspection, 100% of initial teacher training providers were judged to be either good or outstanding. We have worked with a sector-led group chaired by Stephen Munday to develop a new framework of core initial teacher training content which was published last year. It is enabling providers as well as trainees to have a better understanding of the essential elements of good ITT content, including in the arts.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that high-quality teaching of art and design subjects in schools is essential, not least for driving future innovation, an ambition of the industrial strategy? Has he looked at the recent Oxford Brookes University research, which bears out the increasing concern that for these subjects the PGCE route, which is contracting, is significantly preferable to School Direct, not just because of the subject-specific training but for the wider context of networking and access to community-based practice? Will the Government address these concerns?

My Lords, I agree with the noble Earl that a broad and balanced curriculum is an essential part of a child’s education. I am afraid that I have not seen the Oxford Brookes report but I reassure him that many schools buy-in the PGCE qualification to run alongside their own School Direct programme to enable students to benefit from this in addition to the practical emphasis of the school-based approach.

My Lords, the Government have missed their own target for the last five years on teacher recruitment and retention. Does the Minister think that lifting the public sector pay cap, tackling rising workloads and allowing teachers more say in the curriculum might alleviate the serious position in which the Government have put us?

My Lords, we have 15,000 additional teachers in the system today compared with 2010, and an increasing number of teachers are returning to the profession. Last year, we had increasing numbers recruited in maths, all the sciences, modern foreign languages, geography and art. I acknowledge that there are one or two shortages but I do not feel that we have in any way a teaching recruitment crisis.

My Lords, will my noble friend be kind enough to tell me what the precise arrangements are between his department and BEIS in order that his department should play its part in the work that has to be done if the industrial strategy is to include this important area, which was announced as a central theme yesterday when the industrial strategy was implemented?

My Lords, we have put particular emphasis on technical skills with the announcement of our T-level programme, which will begin in two years’ time. By 2020, we will be spending an additional half billion pounds a year on technical education.

My Lords, if somebody receives their training in a classroom-based situation, how will they receive the extra tuition required to teach design, art and crafts unless they are in those classrooms? The Minister is not addressing that.

My Lords, in 2014 we asked Sir Andrew Carter to chair an independent review of the quality of ITT courses. Following on from that we have issued three reports in our efforts to improve the framework. We have the framework on the core content of ITT, new behaviour management content and national standards for school-based ITT mentors.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, and I wonder if I can push him a little bit further. I think the whole House would agree that provision of the arts for school-age children is vital if we are to maintain our position as one of the world-leading nations in contributing to the arts globally. Can we get any comfort from the Minister on the provision of, and the Government’s promise to provide, arts in the classroom for our children growing up?

My Lords, as I said a moment ago, the Government strongly support a broad and balanced curriculum. We recently announced £400 million of funding between 2016 and 2020 for a diverse portfolio of arts and music education programmes. This includes £300 million for music education hubs and £58 million in 2016-18 for music and dance schemes. We have music education hubs supporting over 14,000 ensembles and choirs, nearly 8,000 of which are based in schools. Over 340,000 children participate in these. We also have Progress 8, which, as I am sure noble Lords will be aware, encourages a broad and balanced curriculum. Of the eight subjects that are measured, three are open subjects, which include arts.

My Lords, despite what the Minister has just said, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Grade, that the Conservatives have allowed the arts and creative subjects in schools to be neglected in recent years—

I paraphrase, of course. Design and technology is one of the subjects that many teachers are now unable to offer because of the Government’s failure to adequately fund schools. A Labour Government will provide an arts pupil premium to allow every primary school child—

I can understand the nervous laughter in various corners of the House. It will allow every primary school child in England to learn a musical instrument, to experience dance and drama and to regularly visit theatres, museums and art galleries. Our aim is for arts facilities in state schools to match as near as possible those in many private schools. Can the Minister tell me why his Government do not match that ambition?

My Lords, I suspect that we have a slightly different emphasis on education and its priorities. However, I assure the noble Lord that the number of art and design teacher trainees has risen nearly every year for the last five years. Indeed, in 2016-17 we had the most we have had in five years.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is absolutely crucial, particularly after 2019, that both our teachers and our young people are kept alive to the glories of European civilisation in all its manifestations, and to the particular contribution that this country has made to them?

My Lords, I strongly support my noble friend’s statement. The EBacc has brought important subjects such as history back into the curriculum. We have seen an increase in the number of pupils studying history, which did not happen under the previous Government.