The Arts in Schools Consultation

A new conversation on the value of the arts in and beyond schools

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. Accountability frameworks have marginalised the arts within schools, which do not have parity with other subjects as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Many of the structural support systems for delivery have been eroded; arts GCSE and A Level take up is declining; and the pandemic has further diminished the opportunities for arts learning experiences.

Four decades on from the publication of The Arts in Schools there is a growing body of international evidence asserting the value of the arts in the lives of children and young people across a range of metrics, but this awareness has not been absorbed within our education policy and systems.

On the 40th anniversary of the 1982 report, A New Direction convened a new conversation on the value of the arts for young people in and beyond schools by examining the current state of play, what we have learnt and lost over the intervening decades, and what a new set of recommendations could look like.

In March 2023, we will release 'The arts in schools: foundations for the future', a follow-up report by Pauline Tambling and Sally Bacon, reflecting on what we have learnt and what we might need to consider for the future of arts in schools.

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