A new report released by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and A New Direction calls for a greater focus on creative subjects in the rethinking of England’s state education system.
The report, ‘The Arts in Schools: Foundations for the Future’, reflects on policy developments over the four decades since the original influential 1982 Gulbenkian report, ‘The Arts in Schools: Principles, practice and provision’, which helped secure the arts’ place in the National Curriculum and contributed to a new ecosystem of education teams in cultural organisations.
The new report emphasises the importance of the arts for young people’s intellectual and personal development, but it also notes the marginalisation of these subjects in the current school system. The report’s authors and partners are calling on policymakers to reconsider the status of arts in schools as part of a major re-evaluation of the English education system. They are also calling on schools to embrace the arts and value their unique contribution to children and young people’s education, development, and well-being.
Arts organisations are urged to ensure their resources can be easily accessible and relevant to schools, including online, and responsive to their needs. Organisations should also open up opportunities through work experiences, apprenticeships, and paid internships.
The report finds evidence of inspirational practice across the country, but it also notes deep concern about the principles and provision underpinning the arts in schools today, as well as the inequitable access to the arts in schools, particularly among young people in the most disadvantaged areas.
The report comes as a wake-up call for policymakers and education providers to prioritise the arts in their efforts to reshape the education system. As the report concludes, the power of creative exploration and expression through the arts could be central in helping to address the crisis in mental health we find in young people today.
The report’s findings are based on an intensive consultation process over six months in 2022, involving more than 300 experts from the education and arts sectors and young people themselves.
The Arts in Schools: Foundations for the Future(full report)
The Arts in Schools: Foundations for the Future (executive summary)