The Government recently [3 January] announced: '£80 million for music hubs coupled with further investment in film, dance, theatre and design.' They state this is a 'multi-million-pound culture boost for children in schools investment'.
In their press release, Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards says: 'Music, arts and culture play an essential role in enriching pupils’ education'. But we believe Mr Gibb continues to miss the point – music arts and culture are not an 'enrichment', they are an educational entitlement in their own right.
Since 2010, NSEAD has reported on the impact in our state schools of diminishing investment in art, craft and design. Fewer and fewer young people within the state school system are accessing high-quality art, craft and design education. There are fewer specialist teachers, less curriculum time and budgets for equipment, materials and technical support continue to be cut for those pupils in publicly-funded schools and colleges.
Furthermore, whilst we agree wholeheartedly when Nick Gibb says, 'Our continued investment will play an important role in helping young people widen their horizons and access all the opportunities that learning a musical instrument can provide', government policy has created not only a two-tier system but a subject hierarchy for arts education in the UK, where horizons and opportunities are limited for so many children.
Substantial investment in all arts subjects is required to ensure that every child and young person can access a quality arts education that is their right. We are dismayed that the DfE trumpet a comprehensive 'culture boost' for schools, especially so when the DfE continue to focus such a vast amount of investment in just one arts area – Music. In 2020/21 £85 million will be allocated for music whilst only 4 million will be allocated for pupils 'to put their film making skills to the test, explore museums or take to the stage', say the DfE. This amounts to 4 million spread between art & design, film making, drama and dance.
Furthermore, as long as this investment is distributed through curriculum 'schemes' rather than direct funding for schools, many children and young people will continue to be denied access to quality arts education, that covers the full range of potential artistic and cultural practice.