The Election: Arts and Education

What does a Conservative majority mean for the arts education sector?

 As people woke around the UK last Friday, we discovered that rather than a hung parliament (and days or even weeks of negotiation) the Conservatives received a majority with 36.9% of votes (Labour received 30.4%)[1].  The turnout was 66.1% of the electorate - the highest in 18 years[2].

The Conservative Government:

Nicky Morgan is to stay as Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities

John Whittingdale is the newly appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. He will oversee negotiations for the BBC’s charter renewal. He is a long-time critic of the BBC licence fee.

Find out about other appointments here

Education and Childcare:

As well as being tougher on ‘coasting schools to accept new leadership’ there will be a bill to double free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.[3]

Nicky Morgan has said she will listen to teachers , ‘It's about listening, it's about hearing what they've got to say, tackling things like workload, Ofsted inspections, and building on all the lessons I've learned in the last 10 months.’[4]

The party announced during the election campaign it would open 500 more free schools, protect the schools budget as pupil numbers increase and invest £7bn in “good school places”.[5]

The Conservative Manifesto, as detailed by Cultural Learning Alliance, includes a renewed interest in the EBACC which previously  prioritised STEM subjects  ‘this has served to significantly disincentivise the study of the arts in schools over the last five years.’[6] Pupil premium will be maintained.

The Arts:

Dave O’Brien, in The Conversation[7], predicts further cuts at Arts Council England, and Whittingdale’s focus is likely to be on English Culture. Local cultural provision will be further threatened with a ‘collapse of local support’ as Local Councils have to deliver statutory provision on decreasing budgets.

Cultural Learning Alliance detail how Manchester will be a focus of investment (as does David O’Brien) and Theatres and Orchestras will receive Tax breaks.

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England’s response to the election result includes his dedication to ensuring all decision makers understand the value of the arts and emphasises recent increased funding to Music Hubs.

Publicly funded museums and galleries are likely to remain free.

What does it mean for the arts education sector?

There may be more nursery places through increased 3/4 year old funding- but will there be opportunities and support for creative arts activities?  With a maintained pupil premium, there is potential to demonstrate the positive impacts the arts can have for children in receipt of this. As always, making a clear case for the arts and keeping the arts in the forefront of peoples' minds is essential.

Support for arts education delivered by artists and arts organisations could continue to decrease with future cuts to local and national arts funding predicted. In Lewisham, there is support locally for the arts education sector with LEAN recommended to be funded for another 3 years along with other arts organisations (recommendations go to Mayor and Cabinet today, Wednesday 13 May).

The buzz around creative industries and their worth to our economy (a record 7.69bn in 2013) continues, but how that relates to education policy is yet to materialise. We have seen campaigning from our sector to include the arts as a valued part of education. The arts contribute to a broad, rich curriculum and need to be valued as a subject in themselves; no matter if you continue to study and be part of our internationally renowned arts and creative industries, or go on to do something quite different.

We know there is tremendous support for the arts, with Tate Modern attracting a record 5.3 million visitors in 2012 and, more locally, the Free Time Questionnaire saw young people in Lewisham wanting arts activities. There are always opportunities for renewed thinking and approaches, and many local arts organisations innovate to address the needs and demands of our current social landscape. How negative/positive the situation will be for arts education in 5 years remains to be seen.

Keep an eye on the LEAN bulletin, Twitter and Facebook as we share policy, arts education opportunities, research and campaigns from across the sector, that will undoubtedly take shape over the coming months and years.

 

Elizabeth Murton

[7] http://theconversation.com/what-to-expect-from-tory-cultural-policy-wher...

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More on LEANarts.org:

-Find out more about schools pupil premium and early years pupil premium

-Find out more about Sydenham and Forest Hill Youth Forum's Free Time Questionnaire for young people

Would you like to publish/ republish your arts education news story or blog post on our site? Get in touch with Elizabeth