1. Education and learning
1.1 The Scottish Government should guarantee the equitable provision of cultural education both in formal and informal education for young people.
A commitment to young people, ensuring access to cultural and creative formal and informal education supports the long-term economic, social, and cultural capabilities of the population. Research shows that participating in structured arts activities increases transferrable skills, including confidence and communication by between 10-17%.
Access to participate freely in cultural life and the arts is noted as a right in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UNCRC also acknowledges that State Parties must "recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts". The current Programme for Government (PfG) commitment to youth arts (Sistema and the Youth Music Initiative) states that "cultural and creative activities helps young people grow confidently as citizens, playing an important role in the development of an overall wellbeing economy". The PfG also sets out the intention to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scottish law.
Scottish Government support for existing initiatives that aim to improve access to culture for young people, and whose objectives relate to child attainment and wellbeing, includes Sistema Scotland's Big Noise programme, the Youth Music Initiative and the Music for Scotland manifesto delivered in partnership with the Music Education Partnership Group, each supported by recent evaluation. Scottish Government could harness existing resource to extend such ways of working into other art forms and to scale up existing evidence based programmes to ensure increased access to a diverse cultural education for young people, irrespective of where in Scotland they live.
In scaling up and extending existing initiatives, recognition must be given to the different needs of, and resources within, communities. Overarching national approaches do not always operate at a level of granularity that is able to take into account the differing contexts and priorities of diverse communities or the complexities of different families. Embedding artists in schools, while welcome, may not be sufficient: additional resource, not limited to financial resources but including appropriate space and equipment, cultural organisations and artists, is likely to be required. This will need to be used in a more targeted manner to build a sustainable cultural ecology appropriate to each place, and relationships which are a necessary precondition to facilitating opportunities for young people to engage with cultural education both in and out of a formal education context, across Scotland. To maximise the potential of interventions, careful consideration should be given to developing the links between formal education, families, and local communities. The Scottish Government should consider engaging directly with communities in scaling up or creating new cultural initiatives in cultural education. Consideration should be given to how reinvestment and the realignment of funding can be put in place to ensure equity of access to opportunities for young people across Scotland.
1.2 Relevant agencies should be charged with developing a national plan to embed artists and other creative practitioners in all schools, in ways that align with the curriculum.
The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) aims to promote a holistic understanding of what it means to be a young Scot growing up in today's world and to optimise the contribution of education to the wider vitality of Scotland's economy, society, and culture. CfE places high importance on literacy and numeracy and while value is placed on a holistic education, it does not match the bolder inclusion of culture in the curriculum seen in Nordic countries, New Zealand, and Canada. Cultural education is integral to the strength of communities, economic progress, the international reputation of Scotland, and to individuals' collective sense of identity. Developing a curriculum in which the arts are afforded the same importance as science, technology and maths has been shown to produce more collaborative, disciplined and inquisitive individuals and is reflective of the contribution of arts, humanities and the social sciences to people, the economy, and the environment.
CfE is supported in Scotland by the requirement of a three-year Community Learning Development plan that includes specific information on how it helps to underpin the curriculum. The Scottish Government should encourage stronger connections at a local level to ensure that local authorities and schools are both aware of and making use of the cultural resources available to them - that is, cultural initiatives and projects, artists, and practitioners - and ensure culture is a key consideration in this planning. This could be supported by a commitment to refresh, renew, and promote the Creativity Portal, supported by Education Scotland and Creative Scotland, to support and empower schools in choosing the arts and heritage programmes and organisations that could work with them. Effective delivery of this recommendation is contingent on accepting recommendation 1.1. Without a guarantee of equitable provision and access to artists or arts organisations there is an inherent inequity which results in a differential experience depending on school and location.
The Arts Alive programme, which the Scottish Government runs in partnership with the Scottish Book Trust, is a programme which not only creates opportunities of access to culture for young people, but also creates opportunities for artists and practitioners through workshops and residencies. The Creative Wellbeing Fund, part of the recently refreshed Creative Scotland and Education Scotland Creativity Action Plan, provides funding designed to help school partnership groups work together with a creative partner to increase learner wellbeing. The PlaCE programme, funded in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council, offers school children an opportunity to engage with creative professionals from Edinburgh Festivals. The Scottish Government should be proactive in identifying where success is occurring at a local or regional level and, as with the examples in 1.1, identify ways in which they can be scaled up and resourced appropriately to support a national plan to embed creative practitioners in Schools.
98% of primary school teachers feel culture is critical in education, however 73% feel under resourced to deliver culture as part of the curriculum. To embed culture in the curriculum fully, Scottish Government will need to consider how to address the capability of educational professionals to deliver this. Combining the expertise of Education Scotland, Arts in Education Recovery Group, the creative workforce, and the National Performing Companies would allow the upskilling of education professionals in a cultural space. Funding already provided to Higher Education Institutions could be utilised to support this upskilling, particularly those in the technical education or Professional Graduate Diploma in Education space. This work should take into account the concerns noted in the section above regarding the importance of engaging with communities and enabling targeted approaches where required.
To implement the development and delivery of this recommendation it would be crucial to involve creative and educational agencies in a partnership approach, linking in with Local Authorities.
1.3 Greater support and guidance should be provided to education professionals and young people to help demonstrate accessible pathways into careers in culture.
There must be equitable access for young people from any background to a career in the cultural and creative industries, and investment in cultural opportunities is one of the key elements to this. The Culture Counts manifesto highlights that access to cultural experiences will spark ambition in children influencing life-long professional goals. Existing research demonstrates that careers in the culture sector are often seen as unattainable or not viable professions to young people from certain backgrounds. The culture sector is one of the poorest in terms of demographic, and socio-economic, diversity. This reduces the breadth of voices and experiences that are shaping the cultural outputs of Scotland and, in turn, what that says about a contemporary Scottish cultural identity. It is therefore vital that routes to careers in culture are clear and supported by educators, parents, and career advisors.
The link between schools and further and higher education needs to be strengthened to secure the skills pipeline, supporting new jobs. Vocational learning routes, like apprenticeships, are an area in which to do this; however, investment is required to develop suitable programmes that recognise and respond to the specificities of a sector heavily populated with sole traders and small businesses. With high levels of freelance workers, the sector has not been able to effectively adopt an apprenticeship model based on the assumption of continued employment by a single organisation. Building on the foundations of the Creative Learning Plan, the Scottish Government should ensure that existing career initiatives, like Developing the Young Workforce, Modern Apprenticeships, and Graduate Apprenticeships are better equipped to support careers in the creative and cultural industries, signposting to a wide range of careers across the sector.
The Scottish Government should also develop nationally recognised vocational learning routes in schools, and through informal education settings, to increase awareness and signpost opportunities to apprenticeship positions, cultural skills development, and entry opportunities into cultural professions. To realise the delivery of the recommendation, Skills Development Scotland would play a key role.
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