29 June 2022 Member Newsletter (262)

Is it 1982 or 2022?

Forty years ago, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation published a very influential report about arts education. The Arts in Schools led to the funding which established education and outreach departments in arts organisations. Written long before devolution, The Arts in Schools was a vision for the four nations of what could be achieved if the arts and creativity had a central place in the education of children and young people.

The Arts in Schools report set the stage for the arc of my own experience as a learner and educator, from secondary school pupil, to NSEAD General Secretary today. During that time, we have seen the rise of the ‘core curriculum’, the demise of local authority management of schools, the emergence of academy rusts and national curricula that look very different in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Oh, and school inspection.

Much has changed, but some things remain. The 1982 report identified five core challenges for arts education:

  1. Communicating the value of the arts in education
  2. The need for a coherent vision for the arts in schools within an equal framework for all subjects
  3. Linking what is taught, and how it is taught, to the needs of a changing society
  4. The need for new modes of assessment and accountability
  5. What we would now term addressing equity, diversity and inclusion


In a recently published think piece, The Arts in Schools, A new conversation on the value of the arts in and beyond schools, commissioned by Bridge organisation A New Direction, authors Pauline Tambling and Sally Bacon comment:

“For all the many reports, recommendations, and initiatives in the intervening 40 years, it is hard not to see these as being exactly the same challenges that confront us today.”

I have to agree – and to add – these challenges have been driving NSEAD members since 1888. They remain a call to action for all of us.

Michele Gregson

General Secretary


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