Wednesday, 23 March 2016

#OurCulture - a little rant about the white paper

The much touted ‘cultural strategy’ white paper is out. 
I'm not impressed. Behind the woolly visions of regeneration, jobs and social mobility powered by the cultural sector (#themeparkBritain) is an aching void in terms of serious investment, or interest in the less tangible, less obviously instrumental benefits of ‘culture’. Everything in this white paper smacks of a very dizzy, close-to-retirement, nanny running around with sticking plasters when her charges are expiring from lack of basic care.

Ebacc, Academisation and focus on STEM subjects represent a concerted campaign to marginalise creative subjects in schools. With breathtaking, bare-faced hypocrisy the #OurCulture white paper sets out the government’s expectations thus:
“All state-funded schools must provide a broad and balanced curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils. Experiencing and understanding culture is integral to education. Knowledge of great works of art, great music, great literature and great plays, and of their creators, is an important part of every child’s education. So too is being taught to play a musical instrument, to draw, paint and make things, to dance and to act. These can all lead to lifelong passions and can open doors to careers in the cultural and creative sectors and elsewhere.”

It then bangs on about the national curriculum as if it were not going to be swept aside in a tidal wave of Academisation and desperate pursuit of league table success where only STEM subjects count.

A fully rounded education that includes creative subjects/humanities should be the basis of universal provision, not something that we have to seek remedies for after the event. Once you lose that universal provision, no amount of access/inclusivity initiatives will repair the damage.

Beyond the classroom, the white paper appears to throw the entire responsibility for access/diversity/inclusivity onto Lottery distributors and the cultural sector – already under immense economic pressure. How is this to be achieved? and how can it ever be more than a piecemeal response when the basics are lacking in terms of provision in schools?

Reverse the proposals for making all schools academies and chuck out the Ebacc. There’s your cultural strategy.

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