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‘Schools must focus on the arts for top rating’: Harman

29th April 2015

SCHOOLS will be penalised in their Ofsted rating if they do not give students an outstanding “artistic and cultural” education, the deputy leader of the Labour Party said on a visit to Brighton.

For too long arts, culture and creativity have taken a back seat in schools, Harriet Harman said as she unveiled a charter for culture and creative industries.

Speaking at the Theatre Royal she said artistic flair should be encouraged in youngsters as part of a broad and balanced education, instead of being viewed as an added extra.

Under a Labour government the pledge would mean schools will only be able to gain an outstanding Ofsted rating if their focus on the arts is excellent.

The shadow secretary for culture, media and sport said everyone should have access to arts, regardless of their school, background, or where they live in the country.

She said: “Every single individual should have the opportunity to explore creativity, starting as a child. Arts, culture and creativity is a big answer to questions about jobs.

“They are the jobs that people want to do. Brighton is a cultural hot spot and I have had so many wonderful cultural experiences here which is why it’s a great place to launch the charter.”

Ms Harman said government departments like health and education all needed to work better together to involve the arts and warned of the detrimental impact on arts and tourism if the UK was to leave the European Union.

The onus, she said, would be on local authorities to ensure the additional money was fairly spread. But details of where the money would come from and how it would be filtered down were not disclosed. Ms Harman did say the money would not come from cuts.

She also dismissed the charter as another attempt to control the curriculum and said: “Michael Gove has downplayed arts, culture and creativity in school and his predecessor has even said it would hold you back in life. This is wrong.”

William Deighan, headteacher of Vardean School in Brighton, welcomed the announcement but said the charter needed to go further by helping schools to be better equipped to offer arts.

The charter will also protect intellectual property – a legal term for creations including music, literature, artistic work and inventions – so artists continue to reap the rewards of their hard work throughout their life.

Ms Harman said Green Party proposals to limit UK copyright terms to 14 years would be “catastrophic”.

Read more on the Argus website