Too many young people are making subject choices at the age of 15 that are “holding them back for the rest of their lives”, the education secretary said last month.
This blog features a leading image taken by myself (@DodgyEye) to support the arts, and more importantly, a speech by Baroness Evans of Bowes Park spoken at The House of Lords on 27th November. Natalie Evans was director of the New Schools Network from 2011-2013 and also the deputy director of Policy Exchange. To read her maiden speech, you will need to scroll to the foot of this blog.
It is always heart-warming to see sensible minds entering the inner ears of politicians …
Support The Arts:
The headline from Nicky Morgan, “holding them back” is enough to divide opinion when information is promoted with little awareness of what makes STEM and Arts subjects accessible to all. I have argued here, that Creative and Applied Imagination is stooped in theory and rigour. I can highlight to anyone that the process of creativity and how this may be applied to suit any given context, requires knowledge, not merely skill. I presented this very topic at the annual SSAT Arts Conference in May 2014 where I first made a connection with The Cultural Learning Alliance.
The Alliance are dedicated to putting the A (Arts) into STEM = STEAM. They have a vast range of evidence and key research findings. which can be summarised into these five headings.
- Learning through arts and culture improves attainment in all subjects
- Participation in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities.
- Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree
- Employability of students who study arts subjects is higher and they are more likely to stay in employment
- Students who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer and are 20% more likely to vote as young adults.
This image led @JeanEd70 to respond with a link to the a transcript taken from The . This blog has therefore been formed the basis of this information regarding The Arts and recent information promoted by Nicky Morgan MP. The discussion below continues for over an hour …
In the words of Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD):
“I therefore end with a plea not for STEM but for STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. We want them all together. We want to provide a broad education for our young people—one which gives them the best foundation for moving forward in life.”
You can read the debate under the title, Schools: Arts Education. To read the full transcript, click here and read from 3.48 pm.
To read Natalie Evans’ maiden speech, you will find this below.
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park:
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is a privilege to make my maiden speech on the important subject of education. I declare an interest as the director of New Schools Network, an educational charity that helps groups set up new, independent state schools. I begin by thanking all noble Lords and the staff of this House for the warm welcome they have given me. In the few weeks that I have been here, I have experienced the genuine kindness and tremendous assistance for which the House has such a well deserved reputation. I particularly thank my two supporters, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish of Furness.
My first challenge on being given this honour was to select my title; not something I ever expected to do. I chose Bowes Park, the area in Haringey in which I have lived for over 10 years. The heart of Bowes Park is Myddleton Road, named after the constructor of the New River, which flows through the area and was built in 1613, providing London with fresh drinking water ever since. Once a bustling high street, Myddleton Road fell into decline for many years but it is now showing encouraging signs of regeneration, thanks to a passionate local community. A new open-air gym—part of our Olympic legacy—a regular street market and, most excitingly, the opening of a café and gallery by two local entrepreneurs, are all playing their part in helping to revitalise the area.
I am delighted to become the youngest female member of the House, an honour passed on to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox. In doing so, I am also delighted to have doubled the number of noble Lords sitting in this House under the age of 40. In the 1984 presidential election campaign, a 73 year-old Ronald Reagan said that he would not make age an issue and exploit 56 year-old Walter Mondale’s youth and inexperience. I hope your Lordships will show me a similar indulgence.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating this debate. I was fortunate enough to go to Henrietta Barnett, an excellent state school, and am well aware of the advantages it gave me. I already know from this debate that your Lordships will agree that all children are entitled to a good education. Because of this, it has been a privilege for me to be involved with free schools: first at Policy Exchange, helping to develop the programme, and most recently at New Schools Network, supporting teachers, parents, charities and community groups in actually setting them up. I am all too well aware of, and have seen at first hand, the passion and dedication of those committed to improving education in their local communities. Across the state education system we are seeing the real, positive impact that giving freedom to our best teachers is having on raising standards, particularly for some of our most deprived pupils. There is exciting innovation: to name just a few of these, we are seeing the first bilingual schools; new approaches to teaching maths, drawing inspiration from the Far East; and schools that have a no-excuses culture, which helps raise the aspirations of their students.
On the subject of this debate, Britain has an unparalleled cultural heritage. Today, as has already been mentioned, our creative industries are worth more than £70 billion a year to our economy. It is imperative that our education system equips young people with the skills and knowledge to take advantage of the opportunities in this dynamic sector. At New Schools Network we have been delighted to support a number of new schools which have taken an innovative approach to arts education.
East London Arts & Music is a school that has direct involvement from some of the biggest names in the music industry. Its mission is to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in that industry, be it as technicians, producers or artists. The world class Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts has opened a primary school whose creative curriculum draws on that city’s rich heritage. Wac Arts uses the performing arts to re-engage young people who have struggled in mainstream education. As has already been made clear in this debate, a well-rounded education is fundamental to ensuring that young people make the best possible start in life. It should be available to all, regardless of their background, and must not become a luxury for those who can afford it.
In this globally competitive world, young people need to develop confidence and resilience. They need to be able to communicate effectively and think creatively. Research demonstrates that participation in the arts can help pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop those characteristics. The importance of arts education across the state sector must not be underestimated. I hope that my short contribution today shows my commitment to ensuring that all young people get the best opportunities in life. I look forward to contributing to the work of the House in this and many other areas.