Press release

Huge range of cultural opportunities for all young people

Education Secretary Michael Gove today published a document detailing the range of government-backed cultural education opportunities open to all young people in England.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Young dancers. © DCMS

The government is spending £292 million to 2015 on cultural education so young people can benefit from excellent cultural and music activities.

The BFI Film Academy, the National Youth Dance Company and the Shakespeare Schools Festival are among the programmes being funded by the Department for Education.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

No education can be complete without the arts and creativity playing a central role in a child’s life.

Successful schools put culture at the heart of their curriculum. I want all schools to be able to emulate, indeed surpass, those which are currently outstanding.

I hope schools will be excited by these opportunities and will use them to offer all children a cultural education that will engage and inspire them to take part in cultural activity throughout their lives.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Cultural education - a summary of programmes and opportunities - is part of our strategy to ensure that every child has the chance to experience a wide variety of high quality cultural experiences. It shows the breadth of programmes in place to help schools deliver that ambition, but I hope that it also inspires schools and cultural organisations to work more closely together, to find new and exciting ways to engage children in the cultural activities.

We know experiences like these are important not only for ensuring the continued success of our creative industries but also for individuals’ development, and that these experiences remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Darren Henley, managing director of Classic FM, who conducted an independent review on cultural education for the government, said:

Ensuring that children gain an excellent cultural education really does matter, so this new government publication which responds to one of the recommendations in my independent review is an exciting step forward. The ‘Cultural education’ document is both aspirational and pragmatic. It affirms the importance of the contribution that cultural education subjects make in developing the next generation of well-rounded and culturally enriched young people.

HM Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said:

The effective teaching of art, music, drama and other creative subjects is important in ensuring students experience a rich and balanced curriculum. This is something our inspectors pay close attention to when they visit schools. These initiatives, aimed at enhancing the quality of provision in these subjects, are therefore to be welcomed.

The document sets out how young people in England can engage in many cultural education opportunities including:

BFI Film Academy

The Department for Education, with substantial support from the British Film Institute, is developing a new film academy to help train the next generation of talented film-makers. Since January 2013, 24 of the British Film Institute’s regional partners - which include a diverse range of film and media training organisations - have brought rich learning experiences to more than 400 16- to 19-year-olds across England.

Heritage schools

The Department for Education is working with English Heritage to develop a heritage schools programme to ensure that children can appreciate their local area and recognise its heritage and place in the national story.

Museums and schools programme

The Department for Education is providing funding for a museums and schools programme, managed by Arts Council England. It will provide high-quality activities in museums, linked to the curriculum, for large numbers of pupils across England. The department’s funding of £3.6 million is supporting 10 regional museum services in partnership with national museums. The programme has already ensured that thousands of school children are experiencing high-quality visits to museums, in areas where take up has traditionally been low.

The Shakespeare Schools Festival and RSC Shakespeare Toolkit for Teachers

The Department for Education is supporting an ambitious plan to give 50,000 children the chance to stage a Shakespeare play in a theatre by 2014. The Shakespeare Schools Festival provides schools with abridged scripts and rehearsal tips as well as finding local theatres in which to perform. The Royal Shakespeare Company will provide all state-funded secondary schools with a free copy of its RSC Shakespeare Toolkit for Teachers.

Poetry By Heart

This national poetry recitation competition inspires poetry teaching in schools and encourages pupils and teachers to access our world-class literary heritage. The competition enables pupils to develop self-confidence and greater cultural and creative understanding.

Dance and Drama Awards

These scholarships offer financial support to talented actors and actresses at 20 leading dance and drama schools In England.

Music education hubs

The Department for Education committed more than £171 million between August 2012 and March 2015 for a network of 123 music education hubs across England. Hubs ensure that every child aged 5 to 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to sing, as well as to perform as part of an ensemble or choir.

In Harmony

This programme aims to inspire and transform the lives of children through community-based orchestral music-making. Building on the success of Venezuela’s El Sistema project, the programme raises the expectations and improves the life chances of children through high-quality musical education.

National youth music organisations (NYMOs)

The Department for Education and Arts Council England jointly fund NYMOs, offering high-quality opportunities for the most talented young musicians in England to develop their skills and perform in national ensembles.

The Music and Dance Scheme

This internationally renowned scheme supports exceptionally talented young musicians and dancers to receive world-class training in their chosen field alongside a good academic education. The Department for Education is providing £28.1 million for 2012 to 2013 to enable 2,200 pupils to benefit from this inspirational programme.

National Youth Dance Company

The Department for Education jointly with the Arts Council England is funding the new National Youth Dance Company to showcase and nurture young people’s talent and give them opportunities to develop their skills to the highest levels.

The Sorrell Foundation’s national art and design Saturday clubs

Saturday clubs offer talented pupils the opportunity to access additional high-quality teaching in art and design through free Saturday clubs sited in local arts colleges and universities.


This scheme promotes proficient, prolific reading by all children. In 2011 to 2012, funding enabled Booktrust to deliver gifts of books to all children in 5 age cohorts from 9 to 12 months to year 7 pupils. The department has awarded Booktrust a new grant of £12 million to March 2015 to continue this project and extend it to a new programme targeting the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds.

Cultural passport

The Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have co-invested with Arts Council England to develop an online service which will allow children and young people to record, share and review their cultural learning and experiences both in and out of school.

Bridge organisations

Schools can contact bridge organisations, funded by the Arts Council England with additional investment from the Department for Education, to support their pupils’ cultural education. Bridge organisations, have an important role to play in signposting schools to the wealth of resources available to them, alongside other local and national cultural education providers.

Cultural education is available to download on GOV.UK.

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Published 5 July 2013