Forty years ago the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch published The Arts in Schools: Principles, practice and provision. This seminal report was hugely influential with Local Authorities, which then managed the country’s schools; it paved the way for the arts to be included in England’s first National Curriculum in 1988; and inspired many professional arts organisations to engage with the education sector for the first time.
Forty years later we do not have the sustained and equitable practice and provision that The Arts in Schools envisioned. There is a growing body of international evidence asserting the value of the arts in shaping and equipping children and young people, and a range of other metrics, but this awareness has not been absorbed within our education policy and systems.
On the 40th anniversary of the 1982 report, the UK Branch is working with partners to convene a new conversation on the value of the arts for young people, examining the current state of play and what we have learnt over the intervening decades.
This think piece sets the context for a consultation to consider how the conversation on arts education has developed over the years, and how a new set of recommendations could be relevant. The final report will be published in the autumn. Though we cannot anticipate the report’s recommendations at this stage, we know that they will be grounded in the needs of young people and the value of the arts in providing them with foundational skills for life and skills for work – just as they were in 1982. We also know that they are likely to highlight the importance of a collective response, across policy and delivery, and across multiple stakeholders, including policy makers, funders and arts organisations.
Over the coming months, the project will delve into the wide-ranging themes of the original report – including the purpose of education and the arts, diversity and inclusion, and provision beyond schools. A New Direction will bring education and arts leaders from across the past four decades together with young people to review, interrogate, and debate where we go from here. Colleagues from the arts and education sectors are also invited to share their thoughts and opinions throughout the process, which will feed into the final report.
If you would like to give feedback on what you think is missing or should be included in the project, please share your response.
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This project is led by A New Direction and researched and written by Sally Bacon and Pauline Tambling, delivered in partnership with the Bridge Organisations with funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch).