Artistic endeavour marks us out from the rest of nature as creators and celebrators of beauty. This is why no education can be complete, indeed no programme of education can even begin, without making the arts and creativity central to a young person's life.
Children in England can lay claim to one of the richest cultural heritages available to any generation, anywhere. The Department for Education's aim was to ensure that all our children have the opportunity to rejoice in it. Collectively we will encourage universal access to high-quality cultural education and demonstrate a stronger commitment to excellence in music, film and the arts. Cultural experiences and education should not just be for the privileged few. creative expression is in our DNA and we want all children to grow up experiencing a rich cultural life, supported by high-quality and engaging opportunities available in their local area.
The DfE and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM, to review first music and then cultural education. The outcome of his first review was the ‘National Plan for Music Education' published in autumn 2011. His review of cultural education followed and was published in February 2012 along with the government's response. Schools have an essential role to play in introducing cultural experiences to their students as part of a broad and rich curriculum. They are able to draw on not just local provision, but also an exceptional existing national offer for ideas and support. This national provision is wide-ranging, with cultural organisations, large and small, offering their own unique portfolios. Professional development is also important to ensure that teachers' knowledge is up to date, and that they improve their skill in making their teaching engaging and relevant to their pupils. Evidence was gathered from the world's best-performing school systems shows teachers learn best from other professionals, such as through observing teaching, being observed, and receiving feedback. Our approach to teachers' professional development focuses on improving the capacity for schools to take the lead in the training and development of teachers and creating more opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. The Dfe are supporting a network of teaching schools which specialise in the cultural aspects of the curriculum to play a leading role in developing and disseminating professional development materials and resources for teachers.
Two groups of teaching alliances were selected nationally; each group were awarded funding to explore cultural learning across their school networks. The groups were also tasked with developing activity, materials and resources to support continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers, school leaders and creative professionals. The Schools' Partnership Trust Alliance (SPTA) was nominated as a lead for one of these groups, which included The Hackney Teaching Schools' Alliance. The SPTA group worked together with the HTSA to promote high quality teaching and leadership in arts, cultural and creative education. Bespoke creative programmes were developed, which were relevant to our own school networks and particular context.
This project has strengthened our commitment to Cultural Education as a tool for developing confidence and communication skills and has shown how creative our children and staff really are. The project has also given us the opportunity to capture the valuable partnerships we have with professional artists, cultural institutions and organisations.
The one highlight has been the opportunity to combine our School Direct programme with the delivery of Cultural Education through primary Creativity Week, the alliance Dance Show and the secondary Spoken Word programme.