On Wednesday, the House of Lords seemed to focus on cultural discussion. The Earl of Clancarty, a dedicated arts campaigner, asked ‘what encouragement they [the Department for Education] will give to the take-up of arts subjects in secondary schools]. Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, responded with enthusiasm and listed where the arts were key to the National Curriculum.
Lord Nash acknowledged an issue with how arts subjects were grouped at GCSE level and the current difficulty in a student attaining a good spread of GCSE’s across different sections of the curriculum.
Lord Cormack (Con) made the case for encouraging arts and crafts careers and Nash responded by emphasising the need for ‘core cultural capital’ for every student regardless of economic background.
There was a suggestion that DCMS and DfE aren’t working together, which is worrying, and I was staggered to learn that Nash is unaware of Ken Robinson’s All Our Futures, something of a seminal text where cultural education is concerned.
It got worse for the Government as Baroness Jones (Lab) told how the arts community was disillusioned with Michael Gove’s apparent lack of commitment to the arts. This brought forth a rather peculiar dig from Nash at Labour, for introducing ‘dotty’ subjects to the curriculum. Nash stated ‘it is not possible to accuse…[Gove of]…not being absolutely passionate about arts subjects’. Which is odd, because I read and hear accusations like that every day from the culture sector and we can’t all be wrong. It is clear that Gove must work harder to get the sector on side and ignoring that he has an image problem where arts are concerned simply won’t help him.
This report was written by League of Culture’s Director, Vicky Prior, and is not intended to wholly reflect the League’s views.