The Arts in Schools

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 will convene 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.

Find out more

Our new ‘scene setting’ report provides more information about The Arts in Schools, the context in which it was written, the immediate impact it had, and how things have changed in the past 40 years.

Download here

This visual timeline also gives an overview of key developments across the political, social, educational, and arts landscape since the report’s publication.

Download here

Join the conversation

Over the coming months, A New Direction will bring education and arts leaders together with young people to review, interrogate, and debate where we go from here. We are also inviting colleagues from across the arts and education sectors to share their thoughts and opinions to be fed into the final The arts in schools: foundations for the future report, set to be published later this year.

Please share your thoughts and reflections below and get involved in the conversation on social media using the #ArtsinSchools hashtag.

The Arts in Schools: A new conversation

The Arts in Schools: A new conversation

Reflecting on the original recommendations of The Arts in Schools, please tell us...

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