kulturelle Bildung

20.5.2011 | Von:
Joe Hallgarten

Länderbeispiel England: Vom Goldenen Zeitalter in die Misere

Example England: From Golden Age to Perfect Storm

England is recognised as a global leader in cultural education. But recent changes seriously threaten progress, says Joe Hallgarten. The article outlines the history of arts education in England over the last decade, the challenges that remain, and the current situation.

Young boys rehearse on stage as part of "The Cultural Architects" street dancing performance.© Shine 2009, CCE, Photographer: Dave CoxYoung boys rehearse on stage as part of "The Cultural Architects" street dancing performance. (© Shine 2009, CCE, Fotograph: Dave Cox)


England is recognised as a global leader in cultural education. Levels of international interest − from those who wish to see Creative Partnerships schools in action, to those wanting to learn from the flourishing education departments in our national cultural institutions such as the Royal Opera House and National Theatre − have never been higher. However, recent changes seriously threaten progress. This article outlines the history of arts education in England over the last decade, the challenges that remain, and the current situation.

History and Progress

A golden age only becomes golden with hindsight. Looking back, the first decade of the 21st century clearly witnessed a significant change in the way in which most children in England accessed cultural learning.

Within schools, revisions to the national curriculum refreshed the status of the arts as a statutory entitlement for every child. A network of 450 specialist arts and music colleges was created, aiming to provide expert tuition in arts subjects, and offer their expertise to other local schools and the wider community. Participation and achievement in a wide range of arts-related qualifications increased significantly, boosted in part by the creation of a new Arts Award for young people aged 11-25, and Artsmark, an accreditation for schools to recognise their commitment to the arts [12]. Schools also offered after-school arts opportunities through national funding for an "extended schools" programme. The 2007 Children's Plan stated that all young people were entitled to a broad and rich curriculum, including access to high quality provision in the arts [13].

Beyond schools, boosted by a more than double real-terms increase in national government funding for the arts, additional local funding, and the creation of many new cultural institutions supported by funding from our National Lottery, our galleries, museums, theatres and orchestras began to take their responsibility for education more seriously than ever. This commitment often moved far beyond the typical motivations around audience development, towards a deeper engagement with schools and young people. Whilst the arts, to quote Tony Blair, were becoming part of the New Labour government´s "core script", education was also taking its place in the "core script" of our major cultural institutions. This was boosted by collaborations between our culture and education ministries to fund specific programmes. For instance:

In Music, over £80m pa was provided locally to pay for a year´s tuition for every primary school child in the early years of primary school and to fund youth choirs, orchestras and ensembles. Sing Up, a new programme to put singing back into the primary school classroom, also received £40m from 2008-2011. Youth Music received £10m pa to target music activities in deprived communities.

In Dance, Youth Dance England was funded to take strategic lead for dance within and beyond schools, and given resources to improve overall provision and work with gifted young dancers.

In Film, a "21st century literacy" film education strategy was created to bring together a number of existing initiatives including First Light, which has enabled young filmmakers to create films alongside professionals. Film clubs were also funded in more than 7,000 schools.

In Museums, encouraged partly by free entrance, children´s attendance numbers at national museums and galleries grew to over 9 million. Renaissance funding for regional museums increased the number of children´s visits by more than 80% since 2002, including an increase in hard-to-reach groups [14]. Strategic Commissioning funding of £4m pa enabled large national museums such as the National Gallery and the Imperial War Museum to work with smaller regional museums to develop new learning opportunities for over 60,000 pupils per year [15].

In Heritage and the Built Environment, English Heritage welcomed more than 450,000 school visits to its sites each year, providing activities ranging from interactive Discovery Visits to published guides and downloadable resources. It also provided activities and events for families, and led a new volunteering programme to encourage young people to develop skills in heritage. A new website, Engaging Places, co-ordinated a national offer to all schools [16].

At the fulcrum of all these initiatives lay Creative Partnerships. The largest arts education intervention in the world, this programme aimed to develop the creativity and cultural learning of young people through developing long term partnerships between schools and a wide range of artists and arts organisations, combining the imaginations of teachers and artists to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning. In receipt of over £200m of funding since 2002, Creative Partnerships has worked with over 1 million children in 8,000 schools in deprived areas, across every artform and every area of the curriculum. The programme also developed a cutting edge approach to research and evaluation, including a study showing that young people who have taken part in Creative Partnerships achieve, on average, 2.5 better grades at age 16.


See www.artsaward.org.uk and http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/artsmark
DCSF (2007) Children´s Plan. London: DCSF
See http://www.mla.gov.uk/what/programmes/renaissance
See http://www.mla.gov.uk/what/
See www.engagingplaces.org.uk
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