Schools will only be judged “outstanding” by Ofsted if they offer creative subjects and cultural opportunities to their students, should Labour come to power after May’s general election.
Under plans unveiled by the party’s leader Ed Miliband, schools will be asked to appoint a “local culture champion” to forge links with arts organisations and after-school clubs will be encouraged to offer music, drama, dance and other creative activities.
And as part of Labour’s intention to demand that Ofsted inspectors judge schools on their “broad and balanced” curriculums, schools will only be rated “outstanding” if they are providing sufficient access to the arts.
Last week, Mr Miliband told TES in an exclusive interview that the “denigration” of creative subjects under the current government was “terrible”.
A Labour government would also guarantee to continue free access to national galleries and museums and encourage the Arts Council to use grants to fund reduced-rate theatre tickets for young people. Creative industries and arts organisations that receive government grants and contracts would also be required to offer more apprenticeships.
Labour cited the Warwick Commission’s findings that the number of primary school children taking part in music had fallen from more than half in 2010 to under a third in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of arts and culture teachers in schools has fallen by 11 per cent since the last election and in 2013, only 8.4 per cent of students combined arts and science subjects at AS-level.
“In my view, this is a direct consequence of a backward-looking, narrow educational philosophy from a government that has gone from the Gove regime to the Gove regime in all but name,” Mr Miliband said.
“We have to turn that around. That is why the next Labour government’s mission is to guarantee every young person, from whatever background, access to the arts and culture – a universal entitlement to a creative education for every child.”
According to Labour, there is currently no formal requirement for arts and cultural education in schools and a number of schemes introduced by the previous Labour government to improve access have been cut. This has led to the number of primary school children taking part in music, for example, dropping from 55 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2013.
The party even claimed that education secretary Nicky Morgan suggested recently that “arts subjects hold children back”.
In response, a Conservative spokesman said Mr Miliband was making promises “which he knows he can’t pay for”.
“Labour’s policy is in chaos. Only last month Ed Balls said, ‘I’m afraid there will be no new money for the Arts Council’ and that ‘there will be no additional funding for local government’.”
“The only way to properly fund the arts and make sure our children get the best cultural education is to stick to our long-term economic plan that is a building a better and brighter future for Britain.”