Election 2024

Cultural education: How the manifestos stack up

How do the main parties' promises measure up to the scale of the challenge for cultural education?

How do the main parties' promises measure up to the scale of the challenge for cultural education?

27 Jun 2024, 9:47

If polling is to be believed, we are on track to welcome a new government. Before the summer term ends, a new secretary of state for education will being an entirely new approach to tackling key sector issues. Among these is a stark decline in cultural education, so how do the manifestos promise to fix this?

Cultural education helps children build cultural confidence, develop creative capacity and reach their full potential. It provides them with skills for life as well as skills for work.

Museums (especially local ones) play a crucial role here. According to our recent YouGov poll, 89 per cent of UK adults believe museums are vital to UK culture and consider education to be the most important role of local museums.

Schools are beginning to return to visiting museums after the pandemic, but inequality and barriers to opportunity remain. The big question for all parties is whether they can meet these challenges and make a real change for future generations.

As well as their pledge to recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects, Labour says it will support children to study a creative or vocational subject until they are 16 and launch a National Music Education Network. Their manifesto also makes a commitment to ‘improve access to cultural assets’, requiring national museums and galleries to increase digital access and loans from their collections to communities across the country.

This is exciting. Art Fund launched the Teacher Art Pass to connect educators and museums, enrich the personal and professional lives of teachers and spark creativity and innovation in the next generation.

But while Labour’s cultural education commitments are positive, I’d like to see an additional pledge to support school visits to museums and other cultural activities. Barriers include lack of planning time, travel costs, and inability to cover classes.

Our research has found that pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to be taken to a museum by their school (34 per cent) compared to more advantaged peers (47 per cent). Meanwhile, 75 per cent of London pupils have visited a museum in the past year compared to 57 per cent of those living in the Midlands or Wales and 60 per cent of pupils in Northern England or Scotland.

The next government must support teachers to access these amazing places

For young people to access culture, we require a robust education system that can support trips and visits, especially for disadvantaged pupils.

The Conservative Party doesn’t say much about arts and creative subjects, only mentioning music education. Instead, it pledges an Advanced British Standard: a new approach to 16-19 education which mainly focuses on non-arts subjects.

While a baccalaureate-style system might support students to study more broadly, their focus on STEM and technical subjects misses a big opportunity to develop skills through cultural education. Social mobility cannot come from technical skills alone.

For their part, the Liberal Democrats commit to increase per-pupil funding and to a ‘tutoring guarantee’ for disadvantaged pupils. These are encouraging, and greater funding often means that schools can invest in access to culture.

They also state that arts subjects should be included in the English Baccalaureate, and have committed to expanding creative extracurricular activities, with a new free entitlement for disadvantaged children.

This is a strong start, which could go a long way to breaking down cultural barriers in education. It would be even better to see a commitment to working alongside cultural and heritage institutions on these issues.

We also welcome their explicit commitment to maintaining free access to national museums and galleries, which is not guaranteed in the current economic climate.

It is imperative that the next government recognises the powerful social impact of our cultural organisations working alongside the education system, and supports teachers to access these amazing places.

That’s why we’re calling on the next government to ensure every schoolchild experiences a visit to a museum and gallery every year within the national curriculum.

Cultural education can level the playing field for all students. By committing to practical solutions that address the logistical barriers to cultural engagement, we can ensure that every child can explore, learn and grow through arts and culture.

Latest education roles from

INCLUSION PRACTITIONER

INCLUSION PRACTITIONER

Milton Keynes College

HOSPITALITY LECTURER

HOSPITALITY LECTURER

Milton Keynes College

Vocational Skills Coach and Technician: Science

Vocational Skills Coach and Technician: Science

Milton Keynes College

DIGITAL SKILLS TUTOR

DIGITAL SKILLS TUTOR

Milton Keynes College

EDUCATION and EXAM ADMINISTRATOR

EDUCATION and EXAM ADMINISTRATOR

Milton Keynes College

Caretaker

Caretaker

Milton Keynes College

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Election 2024

Former science teacher and her ex-pupil elected as new Labour MPs

'It's just lovely and I feel like a bit of a proud mum, I'm just so incredibly proud'

Samantha Booth
Election 2024

SEND moved into schools minister McKinnell’s brief

Move to align special needs with schools responsibilities comes after education secretary said she's 'gripping the issue'

Freddie Whittaker
Election 2024

SEND crisis must be ‘first order issue’ for new government

Labour has inherited a system on its knees with councils facing bankruptcy, parents forced into court and schools crying...

Freddie Whittaker
Election 2024

Catherine McKinnell: 9 facts about the new schools minister

Roles have not been officially confirmed, but one of McKinnell's colleagues has said she will cover schools brief

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *