Miliband promises arts at the heart of Labour government

Ed Miliband has said that Labour will ‘put policy for arts and culture and creativity at the heart of the Labour government’s mission’ if the party gains power in this year’s general election. The Labour leader was speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre.

‘Britain will be a prouder, richer, stronger country when we give everybody the opportunity to develop their creativity, expand their horizons, enhance their talents and make a life for themselves in the arts and culture: old and young, rich and poor, north and south.’

Despite his backing of arts and culture, Miliband would not confirm that there would be no further cuts to the arts, saying: ‘I can’t make promises about what funding’s going to look like in the future.’

Ed Miliband speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre (Credit: Ian Watts)

Ed Miliband speaking at the Creative Industries Federation at Battersea Arts Centre (Credit: Ian Watts)

In his speech, Miliband also quoted from the Warwick Commission’s report, and said: ‘If we care about the opportunities for the young, the findings of the Warwick Commission should worry us all.

‘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.’

In Miliband’s speech, Labour backed the Warwick Commission’s recommendation that schools will only be able to receive an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted if they offer creative subjects and cultural opportunities within a broad and balanced curriculum.

Other policies announced during the speech included: strengthening creative education in schools by encouraging afterschool clubs to offer music, drama, dance, art, sport or other creative activities; building better career pathways into the arts and creative industries by increasing the number of apprenticeships; and widening free access to museums and galleries.

Ministers slash value of 3000 vocational courses

Over 3000 vocational qualifications have had their value cut by ministers, losing the exams recognition in the league tables. Currently some courses, such as nail technology and fish husbandry, can be equivalent to up to 4 GCSEs.

The government has accused some schools of using these kinds of vocational qualifications as a way to boost their ranking in the league tables. Education secretary, Michael Gove said: ‘For too long the system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere’.

After the cuts, schools will still be able to offer these qualifications but there will only be 120 courses that will be applicable to appear in the league tables. Vocational subjects that will still be included in the league tables are health and social care, sport, media, music and performing arts.

The past seven years has seen the number of students participating on vocational courses rise by a staggering half a million, according to statistics from the department for education.

General secretary of National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, said in response to the news: ‘It should not be up to the government to decide which exams are of more merit than others. This is something which should be assessed by major stakeholders such as the teaching profession and awarding bodies. Vocational education has often suffered from being viewed unfavourably. These reforms are likely to exacerbate the vocational/academic divide.’