Uighur child refugees from China
A panel of 22 experts will oversee the development of a new cultural education plan for young people. Photo: AFP / Ozan KOSE

A panel of 22 experts will oversee the development of a new cultural education plan for young people. The plan highlights the importance of high-quality cultural education. The members of the panel include representatives from the performing arts field, museums, heritage and youth sectors and creative industry.

The plan will engage with children, young people, teachers, school leaders and professionals in cultural, creative, education and youth studies.

This news comes after the Conservative government announced plans to cut funding towards higher education arts and design courses. In 2021, Gavin Williamson, the former Education Secretary, revealed that the culture and creative arts education budget would be cut by 50 per cent.

The budget cut was put in place to focus on "high-value subjects" instead.

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraged young people to seek career opportunities in industries other than the creative arts and cultural field.

The Arts and Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson, argued: "Cultural education is a vital part of children's learning and development. It opens their eyes to the life-enhancing benefits that culture and creativity bring. It also helps to nurture the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the arts and creative industries – enriching the lives of us all."

Lord Parkinson also noted that the new plan will "help us bring forward an ambitious plan to provide creative opportunities for all children and young people and support our vision to maximise the potential of our creative industries".

Since the cultural education plan was approved in 2022, the UK government has been undertaking around 50 listening exercises, and working with organisations like the Confederation of School Trusts, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Youth Agency, Creative UK, the Royal Society of Arts and the Arts Council England's Youth Advisory Board.

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Barbara Keeley, the Shadow Arts Minister, highlighted the decrease in the number of students that have chosen to study arts GCSEs since 2010. She revealed that the number of 14 to 16-year-olds that desire arts qualifications has fallen by 40 per cent in the last 13 years.

However, in 2022 UCAS reported that there has been a rise in students wishing to study subjects in the creative arts industry at a degree level. The UCAS data revealed that there were more than 4,000 applications for arts and design courses in 2021, compared with 2019 applications.

In 2021, there were more than 271,000 students applying to design, creative, and performing arts degrees.

Speaking of state-funded education systems omitting arts subjects from their curriculum, Barbara Keeley stated: "Despite the clear benefits of the arts for young people and for the creative economy, there has been a systematic exclusion and downgrading of arts subjects and experiences within the state-funded education system."

Lucy Grainge, a Creative who worked with the National Centre for Craft and Design, declared that if creative and cultural education were to stop "the push the creative industry is having at the moment to diversify and give access to those who maybe wouldn't originally have access, will become redundant".

In 2023, the UK invested more than £75 million into the creative arts and culture sector. The creative arts pledge aims to create more opportunities and job roles for young people.

According to CIPD research, a huge 98 per cent of arts learning and development practitioners strive to develop a positive culture for learning.

Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, stated: "It is important that schools provide an extensive knowledge-rich curriculum that includes the arts, music and heritage."

"The cultural education plan will help pupils instil a love and interest in culture throughout their education, along with guidance for those who wish to pursue creative and cultural industry careers," Gibb added.