Grey Bloom by Michael Eden, 2010

News and Policy Brief / Jan 12

6 February 2012

Printable version available here.

January Policy Briefing
Last year the Crafts Council’s wide-ranging programme of work engaged thousands of people nationwide as we celebrated our 40th anniversary. In total 400,000 visitors saw our five exhibitions, 27,000 people attended our craft fairs, and over 7,000 children and young people participated in our schools and learning initiatives. Our joint exhibition with the V&A, The Power of Making, was the most popular free exhibition at the museum in the last ten years. We also developed and sustained our policy and research work on behalf of the sector through a series of research briefings, advocacy events, regular policy updates and consultation responses, amongst other activity.

This month’s briefing follows up major policy announcements from the end of last year, with a particular focus on the update to the National Curriculum Review, and covers new developments relevant to the sector, including news of the Renaissance programme for museums and Higher Education updates.

1) Sector News
Renaissance
On 24 January, the Arts Council England announced that 16 museums will receive a share of £20 million in funding each year for the next three years under its Renaissance programme. As we have reported previously, ACE assumed responsibility for museums from the MLA in autumn 2011. The 16 Renaissance Major partners comprise a range of regional museums, including local authority and university museum services.

More here.

ACE has also announced details of the Renaissance Museum Development fund, designed to facilitate the sharing of expertise and knowledge in the museum sector. The fund will open to applications on 7 February 2012 and close on 7 March 2012, with a total of £8 million available between 2012 and 2015.

More here.

Details of a further fund, the Renaissance Strategic support fund which is expected to be around £15 million a year, will be announced in the autumn. This fund will focus on any gaps or development opportunities not addressed through the Major Partner and Museums Development initiatives.

Art Fund Collect
Finally, in museums news, applications for Art Fund Collect are now open. This partnership between the Crafts Council and the Art Fund, now in its fifth year, has contributed £275,000 to date towards acquisitions of contemporary craft by publicly funded museums and galleries.

Creative Industries Council
The Creative Industries Council (CIC), a working group co-Chaired by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Business Secretary Vince Cable, met for the second time on 24 January. The CIC was established to examine issues in the sector including skills and training, access to finance and intellectual property. In its second meeting the CIC endorsed a report by Skillset which outlines training and skills issues. Skillset undertook a consultation, ‘The Big Questions’, in preparation for the report last year, to which the Crafts Council submitted evidence. Our response stressed the importance of quality craft teaching throughout the education system, the need for better signposting to existing training offers and increased online training provision as well as flexible apprenticeship and work-experience models.

Craft is referenced throughout the final report and some of the proposals correspond to our evidence. Selected recommendations include:

- Create an online professional learning network for employers and individuals, implement sector-wide management and leadership programmes and establish virtual boards of experienced professionals to provide support and guidance to start-ups and small creative companies.

- Establish a single careers resource for the creative industries with authoritative careers information and rich media content, supported by online mentors.

- The impact on the creative industries of all proposed regulatory changes for education and skills must be considered. The Government should seek the views of industry organisations on such issues.

Further details on the Creative Industries Council are available on the DCMS website. The Crafts Council response can be read here and the Skillset report is available here.

2) Education
Schools Education
The Department for Education published an update on the ongoing National Curriculum Review on 19 December. The review was launched in January 2011 with an accompanying call for evidence to which the Crafts Council submitted a response underlining the importance of cultural and practical learning in schools and advocating its inclusion in the National Curriculum. Read our response here.

The remit of the review was to give teachers greater freedom, enable parents to follow their children’s education more closely and define rigorous requirements for pupil attainment, comparable with the most successful international curricula. The review also defined a core set of subjects which would remain on the National Curriculum and asked questions on the Programmes of Study for these subjects, which include English, mathematics, science and physical education.

The Department received over 5,500 responses to the call for evidence and the latest update includes a document which compiles the evidence and a report by the Expert Panel of the review, which sets out a framework for the National Curriculum and makes recommendations based the evidence submitted.

Read more on the review here.

Finally, the review covered questions on whether each of the remaining National Curriculum subjects – including ‘art and design’ and ‘design and technology’ – should continue to be part of the National Curriculum, and the Key Stages at which these should be taught.

The summary report shows that respondents place significant importance on freedom for teachers, creative, engaging teaching and cross-curricular learning. The report also synthesises responses to questions about specific subjects. Findings show that 79 and 78 per cent of respondents, respectively, thought that ‘art and design’ and ‘design and technology’ should remain on the National Curriculum. The vast majority of respondents also felt that these subjects should remain statutory from Key Stages 1-3, with around a third recommending them as statutory requirements at Key Stage 4. The Crafts Council welcomes reference in the report to the importance of craft learning to help pupils develop their ‘skills in creativity, questioning, making judgements, testing and evaluating, and working independently’ (p31).

Read the summary report of evidence here.

The report produced by the Expert Panel provides detailed advice on the structure and content of the National Curriculum, including the subjects it should cover and the purpose and form of Programmes of Study. Critically for the craft sector, the report recommends that ‘art and design’ is retained on the National Curriculum as a Foundation subject from Key Stages 1-3 and that whilst teaching ‘the arts’ and ‘design and technology’ should be compulsory to Key Stage 4 this should comprise part of the Basic Curriculum. Foundation subjects are defined as compulsory subjects with condensed Programmes of Study and minimal or no Attainment Targets and Basic Curriculum subjects as those which are a compulsory curricular requirement with schools determining appropriate content.

Read the report here.

The Crafts Council advocates the teaching of craft in schools because of the range of benefits it engenders. Craft learning has the capacity to aid cognitive development and fosters transferable skills. It provides young learners with a firmer grasp of the 3-D world, allowing them to gain an understanding of materials and processes and to make informed judgments about abstract concepts. This, in turn, can foster important cross-curricular learning benefits; the problem-solving skills and materials knowledge developed through craft practice feed into a range of subjects including STEM subjects and professions such as engineering, software design and medicine. Craft practice can also contribute to well-being and learners’ sense of personal agency as well as creating links between home and school.

Higher Education
David Willetts – STEM to STEAM
In a speech at the think tank Policy Exchange on 4 January, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts argued that the UK’s universities, science facilities and researchers are the country’s most valuable resource to innovate, create jobs and boost growth. In welcome recognition of the vital contribution of arts subjects to innovation and the potential of cross disciplinary work the Minister commented that:

‘This broad research base emphatically includes the arts, humanities and social sciences. They are all part of the science and research ring fence. Increasingly for example research in the physical sciences is linked to human behaviour – not just designing a low carbon vehicle but understanding what makes people choose to drive it – or not. In allocating research funding I have therefore followed the advice of the learned societies and others that we should not shift the balance of funding between the main disciplines. Eric Schmidt of Google caught the mood in his MacTaggart lecture when he said that this arts v sciences debate really ought to be dead and buried and instead we should recognise how complementary they are. I like the idea that instead of just thinking about STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths, we should add the Arts so it becomes STEAM.’

Read the speech here.

The Crafts Council’s research briefing Crafting Capital; New technologies, new economies, demonstrates this in the specific context of craft through a series of case studies.

Read the briefing here.

HEFCE Funding Letter
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has published its annual grant letter from the Department for Business. The letter contains government priorities for teaching funding in universities in 2012-13, these include:

- The additional costs of high-cost subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels including, but not limited to, medicine, science, engineering and agriculture;

- Those subjects which are strategically important and vulnerable and require support to avoid undesirable reductions in the scale of provision;

- The additional costs of high-cost specialist institutions, such as arts institutions, some of which are relatively small;

- Funding to support institutions’ knowledge exchange activities and their engagement with business and the community through the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).

The letter also requests that HEFCE provide an assessment of how new funding arrangements are affecting students and universities by December 2012.

The letter is available here.

UCAS application figures
We reported last month on the downturn in UCAS application figures for the 2012-13 academic year which has had an impact across subjects including Creative Arts and Design Courses and Combined Arts courses. The application closing date for many courses was 15 January and UCAS anticipated a surge in applications ahead of the deadline. The statistics on application choices by subject from 19 December show a decrease of 14.6 per cent to Creative Arts and Design Courses and 13.6 per cent to Combined Arts Courses from 2011 to 2012. This is however an increase from the 21 November statistics which we reported last month.

More here.

On 30 January UCAS published applicant figures up to the 15 January deadline by age, region and gender. We will report further when there is more information on relevant subjects.

More here.

Research Councils
The Research Councils have published their annual impact reports which detail the contribution of their specific research to world-class research and postgraduate training. Read the AHRC publication here.

3) Growth and Innovation
Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth
In further measures intended to facilitate the growth and rebalance of the UK economy the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published its ‘Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth’. The strategy aims to support businesses to invest in innovative products and services and to help Government deliver public services more effectively. Measures include investment in blue-sky research and existing research strengths, greater business to university collaboration and easier access to research and data.

Read the strategy here.

Review of the High Street
Mary Portas, the retail marketing consultant, was commissioned by the Department for Business to undertake a review considering ways to revive Britain’s high-streets in the age of online and convenience retail. The review focuses on re-shaping town centres as hubs for shopping and socialising. Recommendations include concessions on rates for new local businesses from Local Authorities and the removal of unnecessary regulations in order to make trading on the high street easier. The review includes case studies of craft retail and references craft in the context of establishing diverse audiences.

Read the review here.

4) Consultations
National Planning Policy Framework
Last year the Crafts Council submitted evidence to the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on the NPPF. Along with numerous other cultural organisations we were concerned by the absence of references to culture and the arts in the Framework. Our comments stressed that craft and other creative industries as well as cultural participation can make significant contributions to local economies, landscapes and communities and as such should be recognised and supported in planning policies developed by the DCLG.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has now published their response to the evidence. The report makes specific reference to the number of submissions from the cultural sector which raised concerns about the absence of culture and the arts in the Framework, and recommends that the Government should allay these concerns by ‘adopting a more inclusive definition of sustainable development’.

Read the specific reference to culture and the arts in the Committee report here.

Read Crafts Council evidence here.

Well-being
The Crafts Council submitted evidence to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in response to their consultation on the ‘proposed domains’ and ‘headline indicators’ for measuring national well-being. The consultation is part of an ongoing ONS programme to improve understanding of what should be included in measures of the nation’s well-being. The Crafts Council published the research briefing Craft and Well-Being to coincide with the initial phase of the consultation in March last year.

Read our response here and more details about the consultation here.

Apprenticeships
The Business Innovation and Skills Committee is undertaking an enquiry into apprenticeships. Questions cover areas of relevance to the sector including quality of apprenticeships and involvement of SMEs. The Crafts Council will respond before the 3 February deadline.

More here.

EU fund for culture
We reported last month that the European Commission has drawn up plans for a new fund ‘Creative Europe’, which is currently under discussion in the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament and would provide €1.8billion to the cultural sector between 2014-20.

The UK Government, through the Department for Culture Media and Sport, has launched a consultation on the fund to ‘inform its approach to negotiations in the EU Council and European Parliament’.

The Crafts Council will respond to the consultation before the 16 March deadline.

More here

5) In Parliament:
Parliament was in recess from 20 December to 10 January. With the recent National Curriculum update selected questions focus on practical and creative learning in schools.

House of Commons
Creative Education in Schools – 16 January
Don Foster the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath asked the Skills Minister John Hayes what steps are being taken to promote arts and creative education in schools. In light of the report by the Expert Panel of the National Curriculum Review, Mr. Foster raised concerns about the absence of cultural subjects on the E-bac and reduction in postgraduate places for art and design.

Read the discussion here.

Practical learning on the National Curriculum – 11 January
John Pugh the Liberal Democrat MP for Southport initiated a discussion on the importance of breadth in the National Curriculum. He argued that craft and design and technology subjects have often been seen as ‘escape routes from serious academic study’ and highlighted what he described as the ‘very adverse consequences for that line of thought’.

Read the full discussion here.

House of Lords
Design Education – 24 January
Baroness Whitaker asked the House about their response to the Design Commission report ‘Restarting Britain’ which makes the case for Design and Technology teaching in schools, the Crafts Council submitted evidence to the consultation for the report.

Read the debate here.

Read the report here and Crafts Council evidence here.

See also