Schools facing shortage of drama teachers, Labour claims

03 May 2023

Schools are facing shortages of specialist teachers in key areas including drama, posing a threat to children’s education, Labour has warned.

Analysis found that more than one in five drama lessons were taught by a non-expert teacher last year, The Mirror reported. 

The teaching analysis follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he plans to get all children to study maths until the age of 18, despite a shortage of specialist teachers. He has so far failed to set out how he plans to resolve the shortage. 

In a speech to the NAHT union’s annual conference on Saturday, Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson vowed to hire more teachers using money raised by ending tax breaks for private schools.

Labour wants to axe these schools’ charitable status, which exempts them from charging VAT on fees. The party estimates that the change would raise £1.7bn per year for the state education system.

“Labour will recruit thousands more teachers to ensure pupils are taught by specialist teachers in each subject, and drive higher standards in schools. We will pay for this by ending tax breaks for private schools,” the party tweeted last week.

“Staff shortages are a growing problem, extend widely across many different subject areas and are impacting education on a daily basis,” said Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

“The expectation to have a specialist teacher at the front of every classroom is not an unreasonable one, but is not the reality for many pupils. Schools are increasingly being forced to turn to supply staff to cover for vacancies.”

This can be disruptive for students and also raises costs for schools, he added.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said there are 24,000 more teachers working in classrooms in England than in 2010.

“Conservatives are delivering higher standards for children by recruiting and training excellent teachers, helping them to fulfil their potential and grow the economy,” he said.

But the analysis showed that ongoing shortages of specialist teachers is also affecting other subjects, including physics, French, German and maths. 

Guildhall to launch performance training network for children

02 May 2023

Guildhall School of Music and Drama is set to launch a new national training network in performance and production for children and young people across England.

The network aims to “broaden the country’s talent pipeline” and will incorporate five existing centres across England, as well as an online centre for remote study.

It will offer one-to-one training, as well as group lessons and holiday courses in music and drama. 

Centres in Waterloo, the Barbican, King’s Cross - all in London - and Norwich and Taunton will form part of the network, each run in partnership with local arts venues and education providers, the Stage reported.

The network demonstrates “the depth and breadth of Guildhall School’s commitment to children and young people”, said Jonathan Vaughan, Principal of Guildhall.

“Our vision of becoming a sector leader in lifelong learning in the arts is being realised as we work to ensure the boundaries between the different levels of our training are porous and that people at every stage of life can learn with Guildhall School,” he said.

Alison Mears, Director of Guildhall Young Artists, said that a lack of investment in the performing arts in schools over the past decade had “closed down” opportunities. 

“Guildhall Young Artists is our response, as a leading conservatoire, to help increase and broaden the country’s talent pipeline, and to enable more young people to perform, create, improvise and collaborate at the highest level,” she added.

Bazalgette: Creative industries must address skills gap

24 Apr 2023

Creative Industries Council co-Chair says the sector must better explain career pathways to parents, teachers and pupils to recruit future talent.

Campaign aims to boost recruitment of young creative talent

A young producer works on film set
21 Apr 2023

New initiative asks cultural organisations to pledge one training or entry level role each year to boost early career opportunities for producers and creators.

Creative degrees can deliver skills and employment

Ravensbourne University London, Film and TV department. There are two people setting up a camera in a workshop.
18 Apr 2023

In Culture Minister Lucy Frazer's first address to the sector, she highlighted the skills gap facing the creative industries. So how can industry and education come together to address this? Andy Cook of Ravensbourne University has some thoughts.

Sadler’s Wells announces dance project for young people

17 Apr 2023

Sadler’s Wells has shared details of a choreographic project for schools and youth groups that will offer a chance to perform on one of the venue’s stages.

Making Moves will see 48 school and youth dance groups in England selected to take part each year, to create new dance works inspired by some of the world’s most renowned choreographers.

Starting in September this year, the initiative will provide participating groups with digital toolkits created by four professional dance artists, including a theme, suggested music, sources of inspiration and creative ideas for generating movement.

The group’s dance work will be performed at a regional venue during spring next year, with eight groups invited to peform on one of Sadler’s Wells’ stages in July 2024.

Director of Learning and Engagement at Sadler’s Wells, Joce Giles, says Making Moves will “celebrate the creativity and talent of young people”.

“We want to inspire young people by connecting them with the creative ideas and approaches of some of the most exciting dance artists making work today,” Giles added.

“Any school or youth group passionate about dance and performance should apply, and we look forward to making new connections with groups across England as part of the project's inaugural year.”

Access a priority for Scottish youth music funding

11 Apr 2023

More than 60 youth music projects in Scotland have received funding in a bid to 'drive inclusivity and tackle social issues'.

Nearly £1.7m has been provided to 63 community music projects through the Scottish Government-backed Youth Music Initiative (YMI).

The funding is administered by Creative Scotland.

Most of the funded projects – 58 in total – received awards through the Access to Music Making stream, aimed at young people who face 'opportunity barriers'.

The remainder were funded via Strengthening Youth Music. This supports individuals, organisations and networks which undertake 'strategic action' to promote the country's youth music sector.

Morag Macdonald, YMI Manager at Creative Scotland, said the funding was "supporting an incredibly diverse array of projects that will create meaningful opportunities for children and young people to take part in music activities right across the country".

Now in its 20th year, projects funded by YMI in this latest round include Paisley-based Kibble Education and Care Centre, Music Space in Glasgow – a new initiative produced by AC Projects, the organisation behind the city's Counterflows festival – and Angie's Project in Edinburgh, which focuses on electronic music production education.

YMI's flagship funded projects include the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, Highlands-based Fèis Rois and Lothian’s A.R.T.S Afternoon. 

Arts Council Northern Ireland awards £110,000 to community projects

05 Apr 2023

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has awarded £110,000 to 22 projects through its Small Grants funding programme.

The initiatives receiving support span the regions of Down, Mid-Ulster, Armagh, Fermanagh, Antrim and the North West.

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for good causes, we are delighted to announce today funding to support 22 fantastic projects, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects through to professional productions,” said Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“This valuable funding programme will support a variety of high quality arts projects in locations across Northern Ireland, including performances, workshops and tuition.”

The Lurgan and Armagh George Russell Festival Society has received funding to support its George Russell Festival, a history, literature and art festival that began on 1 April and continues until 10 April. 

Funding was also awarded to Tempo Maguires GAC to provide weekly low-cost traditional museum classes; Lilac Cancer Support Ltd to recruit an artist to work one day per week in the Art Development Studio at its Community Hub; North West Cultural Partnership to fund a May to July festival celebrating the opening of a new £1.8m arts centre, Seaview Integrated Primary School for a 10-week block of dance classes; Down Academy Pipes and Drums for a music tuition programme at a local primary school; and Africa House NI for a series of arts development workshops and training for the African diaspora community. 

Digital theatre project seeks to address online radicalisation

05 Apr 2023

A digital theatre group is working with young people in Edinburgh to tackle the online radicalisation of masculinity and 'Incel' (involuntary celibate) culture.

Civic Digits will co-produce a new theatre production, 'Many Good Men', with the Edinburgh-based Stellar Quines theatre company, YouthLink Scotland, Zero Tolerance Scotland and Heart of Midlothian F.C.

Award-winning playwright Clare Duffy, Civic Digits’ Founder and Artistic Director, said: “We're planning to support two groups of young people to write and direct two new forum theatre plays about the radicalisation of masculinity online. It will be performed by professional actors at Hearts F.C. stadium.”

The project will involve working with groups of 15–to 18-year-olds in their communities and will be developed over the next nine months.

The performances at Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh will take place in December.

'Many Good Men' is one of 46 projects to receive a total of £1.6m in National Lottery funding in the latest round of Creative Scotland’s Open Fund awards. 

Other funded projects include the 2023 editions of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and Edinburgh Festival Carnival, and this year's Open Studios Hebrides.

Paul Burns, Interim Director of Arts at Creative Scotland, said "a range of new and important stories will be told as part of the latest round of Open Fund awards". 

Utopia Theatre secures premises for new Youth Academy

05 Apr 2023

African theatre company Utopia Theatre has secured dedicated new premises for its recently launched Youth Academy in Sheffield.

The Youth Academy launched earlier this year and will move from its current home in St Mary’s Church to the new venue in the coming months. 

Utopia Theatre will use the new space to host workshops and performing arts classes for young people of African and Caribbean descent, as well as those from other minority groups. It will also offer a mentoring and training programme. 

The new venue is a 171-square-metre former hairdressing shop unit, located on The Moor. It was secured with the help of Hammond Associates, a Leeds-based company that specialises in making empty commercial property available to artists, arts and community-based charities.

The new premises, which are being offered rent and service-charge free on a temporary basis by landlord NewRiver Retail, will be fitted with workshop and rehearsal spaces.

The theatre will also maintain its base at The Crucible Theatre, where it is a resident company.

“It’s important that our Youth Academy members, alongside our brilliant team at Utopia Theatre, feel a sense of belonging and ownership and I’m confident this will provide a fantastic collaborative, supportive and vibrant workshop and rehearsal space,” said Mojisola Kareem-Elufowoju, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre.

“It’s also important for us to be able to play our part in the regeneration and re-use of The Moor in Sheffield, so bringing a new lease of life to this area of the city is a real bonus. 

“We are immensely proud of our Sheffield roots and it’s brilliant to be able to play our part in shaping the future of the area by making use of commercial space which is otherwise unused.” 

Lewisham, London's Borough of Culture engaged majority of local schools

04 Apr 2023

Lewisham starts work on a cultural strategy following successful stint as London Borough of Culture focused on young people, community and cultural activism.

Major study to explore impact of online arts on mental health

Young woman looking at images in a gallery
03 Apr 2023

Researchers from Oxford University will help young people create an online museum to support the mental health of diverse and underrepresented groups.

Eastbourne community arts programme awarded £480,000

03 Apr 2023

A community arts programme in Eastbourne scheduled to coincide with the 2023 Turner Prize has been awarded £480,000 in funding from Arts Council England.

The funding will support Towner Eastbourne, the gallery set to host the Turner Prize later this year, along with a range of local partners, to boost creative and cultural opportunities in the seaside town.

The funding has been allocated from ACE's Place Partnership Fund, backed by the National Lottery, and will facilitate Eastbourne ALIVE, a project aimed primarily at children and young people and those from disadvantaged communities.

Headed by Project Director Sarah Dance, the project aims to create a new legacy for Eastbourne by broadening access to art and culture through creative experiences and activities in and around the town. 

“Our ambition is to place the town’s image firmly in the hands of young people, harnessing their creative energy for years to come,” Dance said.

The project, which is backed by East Sussex County Council, involves community partners including Compass Arts, which will curate a visual arts exhibition in hotels along the seafront, with an open submission programme intended to serve as a platform for vulnerable and disabled artists.

Devonshire Collective will work with local young people and marginalised communities to co-curate a series of commissions, events, talks and films inspired by the Turner Prize in multiple locations.

Towner Eastbourne is also set to deliver an engagement project that will provide exclusive access to the Turner Prize exhibition, artist-led activities and a digital and printed toolkit for Year 9 students in local schools.

The project will also engage East Sussex Public Health to measure the impact of creative projects on young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. It includes a partnership with Talent Accelerator to encourage and support young people interested in creative industry careers.

“We know that creative opportunities can have a powerful impact on children and young people’s lives - supporting their confidence, encouraging them to develop and embrace new ideas, and helping them to build connections,” said Hazel Edwards, Area Director, South East at ACE.

“The creative skills development and career pathways embedded in this project will ensure that there is an important legacy to Towner Eastbourne hosting the Turner Prize.”

Performing arts centre secures government youth funding

03 Apr 2023

A performing arts centre in Norwich will receive £460,000 from a government fund.

The Garage in Norwich, a charity established in 2002 to support young people, particularly those that are disadvantaged, vulnerable or with limited opportunities, will get the money to improve its dance, drama and music facilities.

The money comes from the second round of the government's Youth Investment Fund will distribute a total of £90m to 43 youth centres.

The BBC reports that the Garage's Chief Executive, Adam Taylor, said the centre has been "working furiously" for 12 months to secure the investment.

"It's an amazing sum of money and we're incredibly fortunate to be in this position," Taylor said.

"It means we can repair our boiler which broke last year, and refurbish our cafe and bar and dance studios, which will help us earn money to support our charitable work with those facing challenging circumstances.

"The rest of the money will enable us to continue opening our doors to thousands of youngsters every day so they can take part in activities that give them the chance to change their lives."

The arts in schools: Foundations for the future

Carlton Keighley students at The Hepworth Wakefield
30 Mar 2023

The 1982 publication ‘The Arts of Schools’ was hugely influential with local education authorities and arts professionals. Here Sally Bacon and Pauline Tambling share the findings from their new consultation, more than 40 years later. 

Programme aims to 'make young people feel welcome' at museums and galleries

27 Mar 2023

A training programme has been launched as part of efforts to make the heritage and culture sector a more welcoming place for teenagers.

The free I’m A Teenager… Get Me Into There! programme from Wigan-based cultural education charity Curious Minds is aimed at staff and volunteers, particularly those who deal directly with the public.

Created in response to research that suggests teenagers often feel unwelcome in venues such as museums and galleries, the programme has been designed to make staff more confident in their dealings with young people.

Kelly Allen, Executive Director of Social Justice at Curious Minds, said: "Experience has shown us that every single adult interaction really matters to young people, especially when they’re doing something that’s new to them. 

“It also affects their willingness to engage with that artform elsewhere, so the responsibility to get it right is huge.”

The course can be accessed in three ways: online by downloading a teaching pack to run activities with staff/volunteers; or as a tailored, in-person version for venues, facilitated by Curious Minds staff.

The I'm A Teenager... programme began life as a partnership with national youth charity UFA and the Lancashire Library and Museums Service.

The latest version was developed as part of Curious Minds’ Hope Streets initiative, working with five museum partners across the North West of England.

Cardiff theatre company wins Calouste Gulbenkian Award

23 Mar 2023

Re-Live Cardiff, a theatre company working exclusively with veterans and the elderly, has been selected as the main winner of the annual Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Award for Civic Arts Organisations.

The organisation was awarded £100,000 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which has been running its award for outstanding community engagement work for three years.

Two further prizes of £25,000 each were awarded to Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, for its work with asylum seekers and women, and to People United, a Canterbury-based charity working with young refugees.

“The organisations we chose to receive this year’s award stood out for us because of the ways in which they are pioneering and embedding new ways of co-creating with their communities, putting people at the heart of their thinking,” said chair of the panel Baroness Deborah Bull.

Re-Live Cardiff helps veterans, the elderly and people with dementia to write and perform their stories as plays, as well as offering training for health and social care workers.

“We're so thrilled to have this recognition. This work has transformed lives amongst underrepresented communities across Wales,” said Karin Diamond, Re-Live’s Artistic Director.

“Now we have the potential to expand our work, which has already begun to grow internationally, shape policy and improve lives in Wales and beyond,” she added.

Golden Thread Gallery worked with local organisations to produce “Welcome to Belfast” information packs in Arabic and Farsi to help migrant women integrate in Northern Ireland, as well as creating art packs for child refugees.

“We have big plans for the future and will be creating a Process room for communities to engage with our work, as well as developing new connections with schools and groups,” said Sarah McAvera, the gallery’s Deputy Director.

People United’s “Future of Care” programme has collaborated with Kent Refugee Action Network to help young refugees and asylum seekers express themselves through painting.

“Having the resources to continue our collaboration, enabling young refugees and asylum seekers to use art to reflect on and articulate their experiences, is so exciting”, said Janice McGuinness, CEO of People United.

Swansea performing arts schools under new ownership

23 Mar 2023

A performing arts franchise in Swansea is under new ownership following a six-figure funding package from HSBC.

Swansea’s Stagecoach Performing Arts franchise includes eight schools – three main, four early and one further stages school - and caters for around 400 performing arts students aged four to 18.

It is part of the Stagecoach Performing Arts network, which was been operational for 26 years, and is the largest network of part-time performing arts schools in the UK.

The Swansea franchise has been acquired by teacher Kelly-Marie Rosina Williams and her husband Benn.

The HSBC funding will facilitate growth and expansion plans, including the creation of a new school and early-years class.

Williams, Principal at Stagecoach Performing Arts Swansea, commented : “Students are the heart of the Stagecoach Performing Arts school, and it is my goal to ensure they continue to thrive throughout this seamless transition which simply wouldn’t have been possible without the support of HSBC UK.”

Where’s the Arts Premium for schools?

Jeremy Hunt at the Despatch box in the House of Commons
23 Mar 2023

The cultural learning sector was hoping Jeremy Hunt would use his first budget to deliver one of the Conservatives’ manifesto pledges – the Arts Premium for secondary schools. Baz Ramaiah was not totally disappointed.

Eight new National Youth Music Organisations

a group of children play musical instruments
21 Mar 2023

The number of National Youth Music Organisations more than doubles as part of government plans to improve access to music opportunities.


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