Press release

Vision for cultural education will inspire all children and enrich lives

The Henley Review of Cultural Education and the government's response.

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

New national youth dance company to be formed

The first national youth dance company is to be set up as part of a review designed to ensure all children have their lives enriched by cultural education.

An academy for young film-makers and a national network of art and design Saturday clubs - based on the model established by Sir John Sorrell - are other schemes that the government will confirm today (28 February 2012).

Darren Henley, the managing director of Global Radio’s national classical music station, Classic FM, said his recommendations, published today, would make England’s cultural education “the envy of the world”.

His proposals cover all areas of cultural education and are intended to ensure that all children leave school as “well-rounded individuals with a knowledge of the world, past and present, around them”.

He said many schools were already providing pupils with a high standard of cultural education, with excellent facilities and good teaching in art and design, design technology, music and the performing arts.

But he said it was now time to extend the reach of cultural education so that all children, especially those from poorer backgrounds, accessed the arts.

Education Secretary Michael Gove and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the report. The Department for Education will invest £15 million over three years, pump-priming the system to make Mr Henley’s recommendations a reality.

Mr Henley said that the dance company will “showcase and nurture young people’s magnificent talent in the areas of both contemporary and classical dance”. It will, in particular, aim to develop young dancers from poorer backgrounds.

They include:

A new national youth dance company

This will provide opportunities for 30 young people - aged 16 to 19 - every year. The DfE and Arts Council England will each provide £600,000 over three years. It will work on a similar model to other national youth organisations, including the highly regarded National Youth Choirs, which perform at some of the UK’s most famous venues, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, and the National Youth Theatre. Arts Council England will manage the development work to set up the new company.

New national art and design Saturday clubs

Funding of £395,000 over three years, and additional funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, will be used to establish a network of clubs based on the model set up by Sir John Sorrell. The clubs give schoolchildren access to specialist equipment and tuition at local colleges and universities.

‘Heritage schools’

English Heritage will work with schools to encourage them to explore historical sites in their local area. This proposal will receive funding of £2.7m over three years.

A new film academy for young people

This will be led by the BFI. It will receive £3m from the Department for Education over three years, to support film education for all children and young people. The academy will work with schools, colleges and industry to identify and develop young film-makers and film professionals with exceptional levels of creative talent, technical skills, commitment and tenacity.

Supporting teachers to improve the quality of cultural education in schools

This will include more training and mentoring for new teachers and continuing professional development for experienced teachers. The new teaching schools will be invited to draw up a programme of work. This will receive £300,000 funding from DfE over three years, supported by non-departmental public bodies.

A new DfE/DCMS ministerial group

This will give responsibility for cultural education a joint focus.

A new national plan for cultural education

This over-arching strategy will set out a clear pathway from early years through to young people studying cultural education subjects at the highest level.

A new cultural education partnership group

This will be made up of lottery distributors - Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the British Film Institute - working with museums and galleries, English Heritage and other partners to improve cultural education for young people across the country.

Darren Henley said:

All children can and should benefit from receiving a wide-ranging, adventurous and creative cultural education.

School will inevitably form the most significant part of a child’s cultural education. This is particularly the case with children who come from the most deprived backgrounds. In these instances, many of their parents and carers may themselves not have been lucky enough to benefit from a wide-ranging cultural education.

There is therefore a gap in understanding and experience among the influential adults in these children’s lives.

We need to bridge the divide so that all children, from whatever background, experience the richness of a varied cultural education.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Britain has forged a well-deserved reputation in popular culture - in film, dance, music and art.

But I want to introduce more children to high culture, so they are as interested in Classic FM as they are in 6 Music.

There are some brilliant examples of schools giving their pupils the opportunity to experience the full range of cultural subjects - both in school and outside the classroom - and in many families culture is a part of their everyday lives.

But this is not always the case. Many children, especially poorer children, do not visit museums or art galleries, or go to concerts or the theatre, with their families.

That is why we must strengthen what is offered in schools. Cultural education must not be a closed shop for poorer pupils. I want to end any suggestion that high culture is only for the privileged few.

Michael Gove added:

A national youth dance company is long overdue. It will act as a centre for excellence, an inspiration for dozens of young dancers, especially those from less affluent backgrounds.

We have outstanding youth orchestras and choirs - it is high time we had a dance company of similar stature.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Our children’s cultural education is one of the most important aspects of their school life. We are setting out an action plan to ensure that all pupils enjoy a cultural education that will give them knowledge and skills they will draw on for the rest of their life. The UK has a proud history of producing world-leading performers and artists and we want that to continue.

Darren Henley has once again done an excellent job bringing together the many people who can nurture an interest in arts and culture in our young people. I am particularly pleased that the BFI, ACE, HLF and EH have come together to form a partnership, ensuring the wonders of our great cultural heritage are enjoyed by all children.

Sir John Sorrell CBE said:

It is great to see the Government investing in the future of the creative industries which provide significant revenues and jobs, give an exciting edge to our nation’s culture and identity, and position Britain as the best possible creative partner to the world.

Artist Antony Gormley said:

The Saturday Club is very important because it is about real exchange and the use of that wonderful, magical time in our lives when we are absorbing what the world has to offer.

Actor Damian Lewis, star of Homeland and _Band of Brot_hers, said:

Any scheme that promotes opportunities for people from all backgrounds is worthwhile. For art to continue to be truly representative of who we are, it’s important that these kids have a voice. Hopefully The National Youth Film Academy will help with that.

Dancer, Liam Mower, 19, who played the lead role in the musical Billy Elliot, winning an Olivier for his performance, and currently appearing in New Adventures’ production of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! said:

The formation of a new national youth dance company is fantastic news for young people across England. Any scheme that enables more young people to pursue careers like mine is brilliant news for the dance sector.

BFI CEO, Amanda Nevill, said:

Talent is universal but opportunity is not and the new film academy initiative is all about creating greater access to more opportunities for young people to develop their skills and talent. British film and film-making talent is world class - you just have to look at our success at the box office and the awards season to see it. But we must not lose the momentum. We are really excited to be able to establish this new academy programme as it dovetails neatly with the continued investment we and our partners are putting into making sure film is at the heart of education.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said:

Outside every school there is a rich history. In the high street, the housing estate, the park, riverside and field, every town, city and village is full of places in which significant events have taken place. We want every child, their parents and teachers to enjoy and take pride in the heritage of their local area and to understand the part it played in the rich story of England. Our Heritage Schools initiative will bring history to life both in the classroom and out of it, weaving it into the life of the community and endowing present and future generations of children with a vivid understanding of the place in which they grew up.

Notes to editors

  1. The Henley Review of Cultural Education.

  2. The government’s response to the Henley Review of Cultural Education.

  3. Darren Henley is the managing director of Global Radio’s national classical music station, Classic FM. He joined the radio station in 1992, first as a journalist and then as a programme producer. In 2000 he was appointed managing editor, with responsibility for all of the station’s on-air programming. Four years later, he was named station manager with a brief that was widened to include all aspects of Classic FM’s business. He was promoted to managing director in 2006. Since the beginning of 2007, he has worked closely with music educators, ministers and civil servants as chairman of the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group, and as chairman of the Tune In Legacy Group. He has served on the DCSF/DCMS Music Programme Board and the In Harmony Steering Group.

In 2010, he was asked by the DfE and DCMS to undertake an independent review into Music Education in England. As a result of one of his recommendations, the government published the first National Plan for Music Education in 2011. He is the author of 21 books about classical music and musicians, including an award-winning series of audiobooks for children. Darren studied politics at the University of Hull. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Management.

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Published 28 February 2012