I was also deeply moved by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cashman. He took the subject that I was going to talk about briefly this evening. We have had many debates on arts education in the House. I normally find myself talking about music education, in which I have been involved since the golden age of instrumental teaching in the late 1950s and 1960s. I have continued to feel very strongly about the kind of opportunities that ought to be given to children and were given to them when the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, first picked up his violin from under his desk.
Today I want to say something about teaching the visual arts, although I feel rather ashamed of speaking in such an amateurish way, after hearing the extremely professional speeches of my noble friend Lady Kidron and the noble Baroness, Lady Nye. I pick on the visual arts simply because I think that, if a parent has a child who is enthusiastic and talented musically, it is usually possible, if you have the money, to find very good teaching outside school, even very good choirs and orchestras on Saturday mornings to fill the gaps that perhaps the school is not doing anything to fill.
In the case of the visual arts, it is very difficult to find any parallel way of getting your child taught art. In fact, you probably do not think of doing such a thing. I therefore believe that schools have an overwhelming responsibility for teaching children in the visual arts from a very early age. This is not only a matter of allowing children to have the fun and experience of self-expression. Some children do not particularly enjoy expressing themselves through the visual arts. However, a good teacher of art teaches children to look; to see things that they probably would not look at or see otherwise. A lot of us—grown-ups as well as children—scurry along the street or tear down the motorway without looking at what we are passing as we go. The talent of looking and seeing needs to be followed up with being taught—it needs teaching—the skill of representation, which is a very natural human instinct, as we know. Thousands of years ago, human beings were representing what they saw on the walls of caves and so on.
If children are not taught to see and properly look at things in school, they are being deprived of something that is almost like a new sense of what the world is like, what their place in it is, and how they can contribute to the things that people want to look at. Of course, this is not just a matter of teaching children to draw or to paint, although these skills are crucial, as any practising artist will tell you. You must be able to draw before you can do anything. It is also a matter of seeing what is a good design and what is a bad design. It does not matter whether the object is a chair, a building, a window or a cushion cover. The ability to look and to discriminate between something that is
worth doing and something that is rubbish needs to start at a very early age and to be taught in school, because it will not be taught outside school. The failure of maintained schools to keep up this tradition of teaching art as an integral part of the curriculum is socially undesirable, if not disastrous.
Every Government has been in danger of this, and the present moment, with the utterances of the current Secretary of State, is a particularly good one to raise this point. Successive Governments have tended to take the attitude towards art teaching that Sir Keith Joseph once referred to as the “leather blotter view” of the arts. That is, a leather blotter may be an agreeable thing to be given, and you put it on your desk, but it is totally dispensable. Everybody can live without a leather blotter. That attitude is certainly exemplified in what we have most recently heard from the department, which I find incredibly depressing.
Therefore, let us, and the Government, give up that view. Otherwise, I fear that what will happen, which is happening increasingly, is that students who enter architectural schools and design colleges, join a national youth orchestra and maybe go on to become professional instrumentalists—all these people who enter the artistic world, which includes the world of design—will come from middle-class or relatively affluent families. That is not only grossly unfair to all the talent there is in children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but is the most appalling waste of talent. We have only to think of people such as the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, and David Hockney to realise that there is no class distinction in talent in the arts. We waste one of our greatest assets as a country if we fail to allow the disadvantaged end of the school population to benefit from the kind of teaching they ought to have. That is especially true in the case of the visual arts because, as I say, it is very difficult for any parent, however enthusiastic, to substitute for the teaching of the visual arts skills that their child ought to be getting at school.
Lord Moser (CB): My Lords, I join my colleagues in thanking the noble Earl for introducing the debate, and not least for his opening remarks. I share his pessimism about the present situation at government level. We have a great deal to worry about; other speakers have given examples.
I look back to a bit of luck in the sense that for my first 13 years I lived in Berlin. I do not like to talk about those days for obvious reasons, but as regards the particular subject that we are discussing today, I wish that we were like Berlin in those days. It is very simple. The society as a whole—leaving aside Hitler and all that—always regarded music and the other arts as totally central to our lives. That was reflected in the schools, so my school life, in an ordinary state school in Berlin, was packed with all the arts, notably music. I was lucky in that respect because it was not just about playing but about participating in all possible ways. I was even luckier because when I came to this country at 13 my parents had the good sense to choose a school which was also passionate about the arts. All those who stress the importance of what happens in one’s early days are right. That is when it has to be started and also when one has a great deal to worry about.
I shall confine my remarks to two subjects. First, I shall say a few words about music, simply because it has been my passion and almost predominant activity during my long life. I declare an interest as a trustee, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, one of the major philanthropic foundations in this country. It has given a great deal of money to the arts for a very long time, partly due to its founder, Paul Hamlyn, who also came from Berlin and had a passion for the arts.
I recall a particular moment, about 12 years ago, not long before he died. I had become so worried and disappointed—and angry, in a way—because, if I remember the figures correctly, at that time only 11% of secondary school children went on with music beyond the moment when they were allowed to give it up. The rest just could not wait to give it up because it was badly taught and there was not much enthusiasm in society as a whole for the young to get into the arts. That led me to persuade Paul Hamlyn to give a great deal of money—many millions over the years—to what we came to call Musical Futures, which is a method of teaching music in a totally different and attractive way. Teachers had to be taught how to do it in a way that attracted youngsters. It has been running for 10 years in secondary schools and has succeeded quite well. Results have been good. It is now about to go private and will be replaced in our foundation by other activities related to arts education.
We started by inviting Katherine Zeserson from Sage Gateshead. She has written a wonderful report called Inspiring Music for All,which is the foundation for other things that we might now discuss and fund. It is clear from everything we know and from what others have said that part of the problem is the teaching profession. Teachers are poorly taught; they teach poorly and quite a few schools are without a head of music. It is a disgrace. There is a great deal to be done and we may set up a commission to deal with it.
My final point is that it is not simply about having more rather than fewer music teachers, or drama teachers, or literature teachers. It is not just that specialist teaching needs strengthening, it is also about the influence of the arts on the whole life of a school and on all the teachers and pupils. We must not think purely in terms of the specialist side of the subjects, although they are important. There is a great deal that can be done and, of course, what ultimately matters is the outside influence. The good news is that the BBC is getting more and more active—the local authorities less so—and the Government, as other colleagues have said, want this to be done. But it is a declining area when it ought to be a growing one.
Lord Smith of Finsbury (Non-Afl): My Lords, I begin by expressing my interest as a patron of the BRIT school in Croydon and as chairman of trustees in the Wordsworth Trust and the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, both of which have substantial educational and school engagement programmes.
The case for the overwhelming importance of arts education in our schools has been compellingly made by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, in introducing this debate and by the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of
Bowes Park, in her excellent maiden speech and by all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. On a personal note, I add what a privilege it is to speak for the first time in a debate alongside the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, who has been a dear friend and comradely fellow campaigner for many years.
The case for the arts in education has also been compellingly made by Sir Ken Robinson in his outstanding report some 15 years ago, by Darren Henley in the two reports that he has produced more recently and by many other studies—as well, of course, by a multitude of successful examples in school after school up and down this country. Why on earth, therefore, is it not a more automatic part of the curriculum and rhythm of school life and educational provision in this country? Some schools shine, while many do not. It depends on individual teachers and head teachers and individual circumstances. It should not have to be a lottery; we should be aiming for all schools to shine in arts provision.
This is not just a nice to have thing—it is an essential. I say this for two fundamental reasons. First, education is all about drawing young people to fulfilling their fullest potential in all senses and ways, and that has to include engagement in the arts, culture and creativity. It is about lifting horizons and exploring new ways in which to see and understand the world. It is about understanding humanity and emotion and what makes us all the people we are; that is what education is all about and it is what the arts fundamentally can offer to education.
I take just one simple example, taking place out of school rather than in school, but the principle is exactly the same, a thing called the Hartcliffe Boys Dance Company, started in Bristol many years ago by a visionary man called Vic Ecclestone. Instead of lowering horizons for the teenage boys on the Hartcliffe estate in south Bristol, an area of enormous deprivation, he decided to lift their horizons and introduced them to the power of modern dance. Not only that, but he persuaded them to write, perform, choreograph and video an opera about the Prometheus myth.
This was not teaching kids how to be a good DJ; it was about really challenging them—lifting their horizons and enhancing their life skills. The excitement and the sense of achievement and self-worth that they were able to achieve through this transformed not only their lives but the entire estate that they lived on. This is incalculably rewarding. It ought to be part of the warp and weft of our education provision, for whoever, from whatever background, to benefit from.
Let us not forget the importance of creativity in subsequent employment and career opportunities, either. This is not just about the creative industries, devoted though I have been for many years to the promotion of their role in our economy. They are, of course, hugely important, and account for about 6% to 7% of our national economy. Creativity matters elsewhere across the economy as well, in all other businesses and public organisations.
Yet what do we do about creativity for our school pupils? We squeeze it out of them. A child of five will sing and dance, express themselves, paint and make music with free abandon and enormous creativity. We
then spend the next 10 years of their educational experience teaching them that that is not important. It is, and we should teach them that it is. We should encourage children to continue with creative spirit, if they have it.
I have one more thing to say. When I was Secretary of State for Culture, I was very proud to have established what we called the creative partnerships programme. It was about linking artists, performers, creative businesses, directors and producers with schools in some of the most deprived areas of this country. It gave pupils the chance not only to experience and learn, and to enjoy the arts, but to practise the arts: to direct a play, to make a movie, to compose a piece of music, to design a dance—and to paint, to act, to dance, to design and to make music. It was not just about enjoyment and experience and preparation for creative careers; it was also about enabling the whole of the rest of the school to benefit from the experience that those pupils were having. In Ofsted inspection after Ofsted inspection, the schools that were part of the creative partnerships programme outperformed other schools by miles. That programme has now been abandoned. I was very sorry to see it go, and I hope that one day, either it or something very like it may be put in place once again, to lift the lives of countless pupils up and down the country.
Lord Aberdare (CB): My Lords, I join in the congratulations to my noble friend the Earl of Clancarty on obtaining this excellent debate, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on her splendidly well judged maiden speech. I declare my interest as a member of several music-related all-party groups, including the Parliament Choir; my membership of the latter may mean that I have a rather limited amount of voice left after the concert last night. Apart from that, I could probably have outdone the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, in terms of my total lack of artistic talent in my schooldays.
At this stage in the debate much of what I planned to say has already been said, which I regret may not prevent me from repeating it, probably a good deal less eloquently. I share the concern expressed about the recent words of the Secretary of State for Education, which I will not repeat again but with which I profoundly disagree. STEM subjects are vital, not least in developing skills needed for employment, and we need more young people to study them to a higher level. However, they are not alternatives to arts and humanities subjects but complementary to them. We need from our education system rounded individuals with not just STEM-based skills but the sorts of skills better developed by arts subjects including creativity, imagination, innovation, team work, discipline, self-esteem and entrepreneurship. I agree entirely that the emphasis should be on STEAM, not STEM.
There is no shortage of evidence, both anecdotal and research-based, for the beneficial effects of arts education. Much of that was set out in a very helpful Library note produced for this debate. The list of benefits cited in research is a long one. Beyond those skills that I have just mentioned, it includes reading
skills, general literacy, language acquisition, maths, visual and spatial intelligence, working memory, brain plasticity—whatever that may be—thinking skills, personal and social development, confidence and motivation to study. That is just a selection that I took from the literature. Many of those skills are recognised, not least by employers, as key skills for the digital economy of the future.
Perhaps in the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, I might remind noble Lords that the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, which he chairs, is ranked third of 154 higher education institutions in the country for employment, with 98.8% of UK-domiciled students in jobs or further study six months after graduating. Of the two institutions ahead of that one, both with a score of 100%, one is the Royal College of Music. So much for arts and humanities not helping to enhance employability.
I will now focus more specifically on music and ask whether our schoolchildren are getting what they deserve in music education, and indeed what they are promised by the Government’s commendable and visionary national plan for music education. There are many excellent and inspiring music education activities and initiatives around the country. On Monday I attended an outreach programme supported by the Worshipful Company of Musicians at Argyle Primary School in Kings Cross, one of 84 outreach programmes this year. Two groups of children listened in thrall to a young violinist from Estonia talking about and demonstrating her instrument. Many of those children, mostly either Bangladeshi or Somali, were themselves learning to play the violin, while others were learning the tin whistle. Apparently, that reflected the interests of the previous teacher with a passion for the ceilidh.
The pianist James Rhodes’s “Don’t Stop the Music” campaign on Channel 4 included an instrument amnesty, which led to more than 3,000 instruments being pledged for donation to 150 schools so that their students could learn on them. This morning I visited the Royal Opera House Thurrock, which is involved in an impressive range of education programmes, including the new Thurrock Trailblazer project initially involving 21 local schools, with plans to extend to all 52 schools in the borough.
I have heard about numerous other brilliant initiatives backed by the BBC, the Mayor of London, the City of London, Sistema England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and many more, not forgetting the DfE itself and the Arts Council. There are lots of good news stories, yet the whole seems somehow to add up to less than the sum of its parts. A review published in July for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation found that,
“the quality and reach of schools-based music education is still unacceptably variable and inconsistent—at both primary and secondary”.
“Sustained, progressive music education tends to be the preserve of children born to wealthier parents … 40% of children from the lower social grades who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn at school”,
yet Arts Council research shows that students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree. I have a number of questions to ask the Minister focusing on the music education plan, but also relevant to other arts education more widely.
First, what can he do to ensure that Ofsted takes music and arts education more formally into account in its inspections? We know how important Ofsted inspection results are in determining priorities for schools, so why can it not be made a requirement for a school to offer good or outstanding music and arts provision in order for it to be rated good or outstanding overall? That might also help to convince some of the more sceptical head teachers and governors about the merits of arts education.
Secondly, what steps will he take to improve the availability of teachers with the necessary training and skills to teach music or art? The shortage of skilled, confident music and arts teachers is a constant refrain, yet I understand that, for example, the primary teaching module that was developed as part of the national plan for music education receives no funding from the department.
Thirdly, what can be done to improve the availability of information about what is actually happening in schools across the country to identify areas of weakness and to disseminate and promote good practice? The monitoring board originally set up as part of the national plan has been redesignated as a cultural education board, but nothing has been published on its actual views about the progress being made.
Fourthly, what can the department do to broaden the impact of schemes such as “Don’t Stop the Music”, so that more schools benefit from them? The national plan needs to embrace such initiatives, so as to enhance its effectiveness in reaching those parts that have so far proved difficult to reach.
Lastly, what can be done to ensure that the available funding addresses the challenges posed by geographical areas and categories of students that are currently not getting the benefits that they should, and also to reassure music education hubs that they can plan ahead in the confidence that their funding is likely to continue at its current level beyond 2016? I look forward to the Minister’s response and, following his encouraging answers to the first Question this morning, which I was sorry to miss, perhaps he should consider giving it in Latin.
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, I do not think I am going to rise to that challenge. It is a pleasure to respond to this debate and I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for giving us the opportunity to raise these crucial issues, despite the air of pessimism that we seem to have engendered as the debate has gone on. I feel that I am among old friends here, with some new conscripts added. I particularly welcome the contribution of my noble friend Lord Cashman, whose personal testimony and insight this afternoon captivated us. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Evans, for her incisive and articulate maiden speech. I look forward, given her education background, to debating education policy with her at length in the future.
I mentioned old friends from around the Chamber, because when we have debated these issues in the past, we have reached a wide degree of consensus about the value of the arts and creativity in their own right—an importance that I think we all agree needs to be grounded in education from an early age. We also acknowledge its wide reach into our economy, our health and well-being and our society as a whole. As a number of noble Lords have said today, the creative industries have been acknowledged to be growing three times as fast as the national economy, and now make a contribution of more than £71 billion. So it is a worthwhile cause in itself.
However we measure it and through whatever prism we view the contribution of the arts, their significance to our society is impressive. In previous debates on the arts, Ministers responding have agreed with the central premise. How could they not, since the evidence is overwhelming? I am sure that the Minister will do so again today and will give us examples of some lovely projects and initiatives that have been introduced in schools during this Government’s reign. It would be churlish not to welcome them, and we do—but, sadly, they do not make up for the more substantial losses affecting arts education overall. As the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, said, they should be the icing on the cake, not the cake. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, said, when there is a piecemeal distribution, we risk cultural capital becoming the preserve of the elite and the privileged. We are in danger of that now.
Ultimately, the Government will be judged by their overall record of support for the arts—and, as we have heard as the debate has gone on, this has left us with a series of very serious questions. For example, we have debated several times the effect that the disastrous reorganisation of the curriculum has had on the teaching of arts subjects. In retrospect, it was clearly a mistake to announce an EBacc system that gave no priority to arts subjects.
While this has now been supplanted by the Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures, which have slightly more flexibility, the take-up of arts subjects at GCSE is continuing to fall. Meanwhile, the important issue of discounting the value of arts subjects against each other continues to rumble on, with an inevitable negative impact on the take-up of certain arts subjects. To compound the problem, teacher-training places in arts education have been cut by 35%, as we have heard, with specialist arts teachers inevitably being cut and affecting the quality of teaching at all key stages in the future.
Yet we have heard from several noble Lords about the transformative impact that an inspiring, qualified art teacher had on them. We have also heard that arts activity at primary level has been cut by almost a third and after-school cultural activities are also being cut back. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, that hot-housing at primary level and the lack of play have a corrosive effect that needs to be addressed.
Thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, we had an excellent debate on music hubs a couple of weeks ago—a policy which at that time we all supported. But even there the Minister was forced to admit that, despite
some notable exemplars, their coverage was patchy and that disadvantaged children were particularly losing out in the provision.
What are we to make of Nicky Morgan’s more recent speech to which noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others referred? Will the Minister let us know if he agrees with her comments? Of course we want to encourage more young people, particularly girls, to study more STEM subjects, but you do not do it by rubbishing arts and humanities and saying that they will not lead to decent careers. After all, 34% of chief executives from FTSE 100 companies have an arts background. How could she get the message so wrong, and what does this tell us about the Government’s commitment to arts subjects in the future?
Surely what we want to encourage is a broad education which embraces a mixture of arts and science, literally transforming STEM to STEAM with the arts taking their rightful place, perhaps even with universities offering more courses that combine arts and science disciplines. I applaud the joint master’s degree initiative at the University of London to which my noble friend Lady Nye referred. More of those sorts of courses should be offered. We want young people to be both creative and analytical and to have an education which ceases to stereotype them by the subjects they study and builds on their individuality.
As the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, said, investment in arts education is more than the sum of its parts. We all seem to have quoted Professor Ken Robinson this afternoon, and I have my favourite quote, which is that,
“creativity, like learning in general, is a highly personal process. We all have different talents and aptitudes and different ways of getting to understand things. Raising achievement in schools means leaving room for these differences and not prescribing a standard steeplechase for everyone to complete at the same time and in the same way”.
That is the real challenge to this Government going forward. As several noble Lords pointed out, it is also that creativity that employers are craving their employees to demonstrate; it is obvious that film-makers need digital and visual literacy, that drama teaches confidence and communication, that engineers also need to be designers, that scientists need innovation skills and that craft skills are crucial for practical application.
So what would an alternative approach to arts education look like? It would make it a priority that that every child should have the opportunity to engage in the arts throughout their education, and we are consulting on how to make that happen. It would ensure that children from disadvantaged families do not miss out in the knowledge that access to high-quality arts and culture helps to close the attainment gap in educational outcomes. It would give every child a regular programme of access to the arts to see theatre and dance productions, to hear a wide variety of music and to visit museums and galleries. It would give every child opportunities to express themselves: taking part in art, drama, music and theatre, and learning how to perform on stage and create their own art.
It would reverse the negative messages about the importance of the arts in the performance and attainment measures and reject the binary choice between science and the arts. It would review the implementation of the music hub programme and consider how the aspiration that every child should learn a musical instrument and experience whole-class ensemble teaching could really be achieved. It would be imaginative in using new technology to support children’s creative learning. It would consider whether Ofsted should be able to rate a school as outstanding if it does not provide an outstanding cultural and arts education. It would build on the proposals for wrap-around education for primary schools from 8 am to 6 pm, and develop an exciting programme of extracurricular cultural activities, welcoming arts experts into the school to run workshops and short courses. It would also work with the Arts Council and the National Skills Agency to provide more high-quality apprenticeships, as an alternative to university, in the arts and culture sectors.
The previous Government had a great record of promoting and supporting the arts. Their achievements are too many to list here, although a number of my noble friends have already done so. However, those working and learning in the sector know our values and our record and will have confidence that we can deliver for them again. I will be interested to hear whether the Minister supports our aspirations for arts education provision in the future and I look forward to his response.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, on securing a debate on this important subject. I also congratulate the other speakers on their contributions. In particular, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on her eloquent maiden speech. We have worked closely together on free schools and I have been immensely impressed by her judgment and analysis. I am sure that she will make a very valuable contribution to your Lordships’ House.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Nye, mentioned, many noble Lords will have seen the book, The Virtuous Circle, by Sir John Sorrell, Darren Henley and Paul Roberts, published earlier this month. It makes the argument that cultural and creative activities and learning should form a vital part of the everyday lives of all young people. It is a compelling argument and I commend it to your Lordships. However, most of us already know that a rich cultural and creative learning experience is an essential part of a good education, particularly for those disadvantaged pupils who may otherwise have a cultural deficit which will hold them back. That point has been made by many, including Diane Abbott, who has articulated it so eloquently.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, referred to the danger of the arts becoming the province of the rich. Sadly, it is true that that has, proportionately, been the case for some time. This is the most socially immobile country in the developed world. That is why the Government are particularly focused on improving the life chances of disadvantaged children and arresting the decline in academic and cultural education which took place under the previous Government.
No one should be in any doubt that the Government fully accept the case for arts education in schools. We recognise the arts as an integral part of children’s development, and believe strongly that every child should experience a high-quality arts and music education throughout their time in school. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others made the case that arts subjects should have an equal place in the curriculum. Arts subjects do have the same status as many other important subjects. To answer some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, music, art and design are statutory subjects in the national curriculum, so every child in a maintained school must study these subjects from the ages of five to 14. Singing is included in the national curriculum. Pupils must also study drama as part of their English studies, as well as dance. Dance has been a compulsory element in the curriculum at key stages 1 and 2 for some time and, since September, it has been compulsory at key stage 3.
It would not be appropriate, of course, to force students to study arts subjects at key stage 4. Children need to choose options that reflect their individual interests, strengths and future career choices. Children do not have to study arts subjects at key stage 4, nor do they have to study humanities, languages or design and technology. However, all children in maintained schools must be offered the opportunity to study history or geography, a modern foreign language and design and technology. They must also be offered the opportunity to study at least one subject from the arts entitlement area, which includes music, art and design, drama, dance and media arts. These are not soft subjects; they combine creativity and practical skills with academic rigour. Our reform of GCSE and A-level exams is designed to ensure that all exams are equally challenging.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and others asked about the role of Ofsted. All state-funded schools are required to offer a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils, and Ofsted inspects against that. It is currently consulting on increasing the emphasis in the inspection framework given to the breadth of the curriculum.
Prior to January 2012, inspections included a minimum of 27 graded judgments with four additional early-years foundation judgments and four additional sixth-form judgments for schools with these settings. We slimmed down the number of judgments from a maximum of 35 to four to focus Ofsted inspections more clearly, and that was warmly welcomed. However, we will be interested to see the outcome of the consultation.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, and others mentioned changes in relation to accountability measures and how they will affect arts subjects. From 2016, the Government will remove the existing headline attainment measure of pupils achieving five or more A to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, which has encouraged schools to place far too much emphasis on lifting pupils over the C/D borderline. The shadow Secretary of State has acknowledged the mistake of the previous Government in focusing exams far too much on what he called the
great crime of the C/D borderline. We have introduced the EBacc as a first step to a fairer accountability system.
I have listened to many speeches stating that the arts have been downgraded by this Government. I have stated that that is not the case and I will statistically disprove it shortly, but we must also recognise our starting point. This Government came to power facing some depressing facts about our education system. We started from an extremely low base. We slumped down the education international league tables under the previous Government and, at the end of last year, the OECD told us that our 2012 school leavers—Labour’s children—were the most illiterate in the developed world, coming 24th out of 24 countries for literacy and 21st out of 24 for numeracy. That is shocking.
Under the previous Government, the number of pupils taking a core suite of academic subjects fell from 50% to 22%. In my view, that Government practised the greatest confidence trick ever perpetrated on the British public; namely, the scandal of the misuse of equivalents, under which subjects that were of little real value were overvalued in the GCSE equivalent tables. Subjects such as a higher-level BTEC diploma in fish husbandry were equivalent to four GCSEs, despite the fact that there were no exams and it was all coursework. Other favourites of mine are cake decorating and hazard control. We have stopped that and, thanks to the policy of this Government and partly to the EBacc, the number of pupils now taking a core suite of academic subjects—so essential to those pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to make up for cultural deficits—is now back up by 64%. The assumption that under this Government the curriculum has changed from one that is rich in the arts for many students to one that is not so rich is false. Under this Government, it has changed from one which for so many pupils consisted of a curriculum of English, maths and some low-value so-called vocational subjects to one that is far broader in terms of academic and cultural subjects. That is the reality.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, talked about the effect of the EBacc, and the fact that it has led to a fall in the number of pupils taking GCSE music and to a decline in other arts subjects. I am pleased to have the opportunity to put the record straight. The number of GCSEs taken across all subjects has fallen nationally since 2010 as the cohort has reduced and as more children have taken vocational exams. Therefore, it is no surprise that the number taking GCSEs in music and the arts has fallen. Since 2010, the number of entries in all key stage 4 exams in music has gone up by 7%, in art and design by 4% and in drama by 3%. The average number of key stage 4 exam entries in arts subjects per pupil has stayed level since 2010. In 2014, more year 11 pupils took GCSEs in arts subjects than in 2013, including more than 3% more in music, 6% more in art, 10% more in performing and expressive arts, and 11% more in media, film and TV studies.
floor standards. This will look at pupils’ progress over eight subjects—English, maths, three further EBacc subjects and three other high-value qualifications. Up to three arts subjects per pupil, including music—the noble Lord, Lord Moser, will be pleased to hear—will count, as will grade music exams at grade 6 and above. Including eight subjects will encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, rather than to focus their attention on only five subjects. As a result, schools will have a greater incentive to offer a range of arts subjects, to allow pupils to study more than one arts subject, and to teach those subjects well. The average number of GCSEs or the equivalent that pupils take is now more than 11, so pupils will be studying a broader sweep of subjects than eight and it is likely that many of them will be arts subjects.
The new progress measures will also incentivise schools to focus on improving the grades of all pupils, and coasting schools with strong intakes will be encouraged to get the best from their pupils. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, referred to the recent speech of the Education Secretary on STEM, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I do not think that the Secretary of State thinks that STEM subjects are necessarily more useful than the arts and humanities, but we need to improve the take-up of STEM subjects, as we are doing. We believe that a balance of STEM subjects, humanities and arts subjects will equip pupils to thrive in modern Britain. Indeed, the Secretary of State is a great believer in building character, for the formation of which a curriculum rich in the arts is so important.
It is important for pupils to study the arts for a variety of reasons. The noble Lord, Lord Bichard, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, spoke about the contribution that the arts make to the UK economy and the skills that are needed by the creative industries. My noble friend Lady Evans, the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, and others suggested that studying arts subjects has a positive impact on a variety of skills that all employers find attractive: teamworking, confidence and communication skills. These are important, but they are not the whole story. Participation in the arts helps build character. Children and young people who apply themselves learn the value and rewards that come from hard work and practice.
Even without all those benefits, however, we believe that arts subjects are worthy of study in their own right. They are part of our cultural heritage. Children’s education is not complete until they have learnt to dance and to take part in drama, or until they have learnt to draw, paint and work with clay and other materials. It is not complete until they have learnt to sing, play a musical instrument and compose, or until they can understand staff notation, without which many musical doors will remain closed to them. All children should have the chance to study the work of great artists, craft-makers and designers, the work of great composers and musicians, and the work of William Shakespeare, the greatest of English playwrights.
Today, people of all ages still enjoy singing, dancing, playing instruments, acting and making art. The latest Taking Part survey shows that 99% of children aged five to15 have engaged with the arts in 2013-14. The
report by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music shows that more children than ever are playing musical instruments: 76% of five to 14 year-olds say they know how to play a musical instrument. That is up from 41% in 1999. However, 15% of five to 17 year-olds said that they had never played an instrument, and 40% of the children from lower socioeconomic groups who have never played an instrument said they had no opportunity to learn one at school. We need this to improve. A child’s economic background should not determine whether they are able to play a musical instrument, or whether they are able to continue to play and make progress.
Our music education hubs were set up with four core roles: to ensure that every child aged five to 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through whole-class ensemble teaching programmes; to ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people; to provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform; and to develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil sings regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area. The hubs will receive at least £17 million more in 2015-16 than they did in 2014-15 to help them make a reality of this vision. Schools need to play their part, too, by providing opportunities for pupils to sing in choirs and play in orchestras. There are many examples of good practice, and it is wonderful when we can celebrate them.
Earlier this month, at the School Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, in front of an audience of thousands, Katie Crozier from Brampton Village Primary School in Cambridgeshire was awarded with the Classic FM primary music teacher of the year award. When she started at the school, there were eight singers in the choir and no orchestra. Six years on, there is a choir of more than 100 and an orchestra of more than 50. What a wonderful difference one teacher can make.
Secondary schools will, by their nature, have specialist teachers in the arts, as they do in other subjects, but some schools are specialising even more. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, mentioned the BRIT School: an independent, state-funded city college for the technology of the arts, dedicated to educational and vocational training for performing arts, media, art and design and the technologies that make performance possible.
The noble Baroness, Lady Evans, mentioned the East London Arts and Music school and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, a free school. We have funded a further five free schools specialising in the arts, several UTCs and nine studio schools specialising in the arts. My department supports a number of initiatives in addition to those provided by the music hubs designed to ensure that young people have access to good quality music education, which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned.
We support In Harmony, a national programme that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in six deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making. We support Music for Youth, a national music education charity providing free access to performance and audience opportunities for thousands of young musicians across the UK, and we support the national youth music
organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, which provides opportunities for the most talented musicians to perform at a high level.
In addition, our music and dance scheme enables exceptionally talented musicians and dancers to achieve their full potential by funding full-time education at eight specialist schools. They include the Royal Ballet School, the Yehudi Menuhin School, Elmhurst School for Dance and the Purcell School, which was home to the winner of this year’s “Young Musician of the Year” competition, Martin James Bartlett. The music and dance scheme also funds training at a network of 21 music and dance centres of advanced training across the country, including the junior departments of all the English music conservatoires. Jointly with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, we fund students aged 16 to 23 through the Dance and Drama Awards to attend a range of 19 specialist dance and drama schools.
Those schemes are great ways to ensure that talented pupils from all backgrounds are able to achieve their potential. We also fund a wider range of cultural education programmes: the Sorrell Foundation’s Saturday art and design clubs, which provide opportunities for 14 to 16 year-olds to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local university or college for free; the British Film Institute’s Film Academy for budding young film-makers aged 16 to 19; the National Youth Dance Company; and a museums and schools programme that aims to increase the number of high-quality educational visits by school pupils from areas which currently have lower than average cultural engagement; the heritage schools programme, run by English Heritage; and an expansion of the Arts Council’s bridge organisations.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned teachers. The proportion of music ITT trainees with at least a 2.1 has increased substantially. Now, 82% of them have a 2.1, which has risen since 2011-12 by 13%. We have increased the range of bursaries; we offer £9,000 for those with a first-class degree. The Government have supported teaching schools to designate 145 specialist leaders of education in arts subjects.
The noble Baroness, Lady Nye, asked about the teaching and learning of drawing. We have improved the emphasis on drawing in the new national curriculum. In key stage 1, children must be taught to use drawing to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination. We have also improved the emphasis on drawing in the proposed content for the new art and design GCSE, which requires students to demonstrate an ability to use drawing skills.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, mentioned discounting codes. As he acknowledged, we changed discounting codes for drama and dance and art and photography, and I believe he welcomed this. If evidence is presented as to why other arts areas are distinct enough, we will of course review the discounting codes.
I hope your Lordships will agree that, together with the policies I have already outlined, this package of programmes demonstrates our strong commitment to arts education. Once again I thank all noble Lords for participating in this important debate.
The Earl of Clancarty: My Lords, I thank every noble Lord who has spoken in this debate. I particularly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Evans of Bowes Park, on a very valuable contribution, and extend a warm welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Cashman.
I need to say that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber, very much wanted to be here today to talk about his work with schools, but was unable to because of other commitments. However, hot off the press as it were, he has given me a quote which I think makes an interesting observation:
“There is currently no legislation that ensures every child has an entitlement to high quality arts provision throughout their education. High quality teaching and in depth experiences benefits not just individuals, but schools, communities and the wider economy”.
That chimes with the fundamental point that many noble Lords have made: that a good arts education is a necessity. This is apart from the huge importance of the arts and creative industries to our economy, a fact many noble Lords rightly emphasised.
I thank the Minister for giving a comprehensive reply to this debate and answering many noble Lords’ questions. We can certainly argue about the statistics. Significant concern about the future of arts education in schools has been expressed today from all sides of the House. Many have said that the arts need to have a central role in the curriculum. I hope that the Government will take away these concerns and reflect on them carefully. I beg to move.
Motions to Approve
Motion to Approve
Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): My Lords, it may be useful if I give the House some background to this order. The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre—JTAC—has raised the threat level for international terrorism from “Substantial” to “Severe”, as it assesses that a terrorist attack on the United Kingdom is highly likely. The House will be aware that earlier this week the Home Secretary stated that we believe that more than 500 British nationals have travelled to Syria and Iraq and thousands from other European and western countries have joined them. The threat from ISIL is clear. It is one of the most serious security challenges we face today. However, it is not the only threat we face, and your Lordships will know that the groups before your Lordships today operate in Libya and Egypt as well as in Syria.
In Libya, violence and instability have provided an environment for groups such as Ansar Al-Sharia–Benghazi to operate. Syria and Iraq have become the crucible of terror and violence in which groups such as Jaysh al Khalifatu Islamiya, al-Nusra Front and ISIL operate. Egypt has seen a significant increase in criminal activity and terrorist attacks on police and security forces by groups such as Ajnad Misr and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
We can never entirely eliminate the threat from terrorism, but we are determined to do all that we can to minimise the threat from terrorism to the UK and our interests abroad. Additionally, it is important that we demonstrate our support for other members of the international community in their efforts to tackle terrorism, wherever it occurs. Proscription is an important part of the Government’s strategy to tackle terrorist activities.
The three groups named in the order are: first, Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi, or AAS-B, also known as Partisans of Islamic Law; secondly, Ajnad Misr, also known as Soldiers of Egypt; and, thirdly, Jaysh al Khalifatu Islamiya, or JKI, also known as Army of the Islamic Caliphate. We propose to add these groups to the list of international terrorist organisations, amending Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000. This is the 16th proscription order under that Act. As noble Lords will appreciate, I am unable to comment on specific intelligence. However, I can provide a brief summary of each group’s activities in turn.
Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi, or AAS-B, is a Sunni Islamist militia group that has an anti-Western stance and advocates the implementation of strict Sharia law. AAS-B is involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya. On 11 September 2012, members of
AAS-B took part in the attack against the US special mission and annex in Benghazi, killing the US ambassador and three other Americans. AAS-B continues to pose a threat to Libya and Western interests and is alleged to have links to the proscribed organisation Ansar al-Sharia-Tunisia and al-Qaeda. The US designated AAS-B as a terrorist organisation in January 2014 and the UN listed the group on 19 November.
Ajnad Misr is a jihadist group based in Egypt. The group is believed to be a splinter group of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, or ABM, which was proscribed on 4 April. Ajnad Misr has stated that it seeks to protect Egyptian Muslims and avenge alleged abuse against them by the Egyptian security services. Ajnad Misr is believed to have been active since 20 November 2013, when it attacked an Egyptian checkpoint. The group announced its establishment on 23 January 2014 and has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on the Egyptian security forces since 2013, including the attack in April at Cairo University that resulted in the death of a policeman and injured three others, and the bomb attack near the foreign ministry in Cairo that killed three police officers in September. The Egyptian authorities banned Ajnad Misr in May 2014.
Jaysh al Khalifatu Islamiya, or JKI, is an Islamist jihadist group active in Syria. The group consists predominately of Chechen fighters. JKI has assisted al-Nusra Front and ISIL in conducting attacks. In February 2014 Abdul Waheed Majeed, a British individual linked to the group, carried out a suicide attack on a prison in Aleppo, resulting in prisoner escapes.
Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides a power for the Home Secretary to proscribe an organisation if she believes that it is currently concerned in terrorism. If the statutory test is met, the Home Secretary may exercise her discretion to proscribe the organisation. In considering whether to exercise this discretion, the Home Secretary takes a number of factors into account. These are: the nature and scale of an organisation’s activities; the specific threat that it poses to the United Kingdom and to British nationals overseas; the organisation’s presence in the United Kingdom; and the need to support other members of the international community in tackling terrorism.
Proscription, in effect, outlaws a listed organisation and makes it unable to operate in the UK. Belonging to, inviting support for or arranging a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation is a criminal offence, as is wearing clothing or carrying articles in public that arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. Proscription can also support other disruptive activity, such as the use of immigration powers, including exclusion, prosecutions for other offences, messaging to deter fundraising and recruitment and EU asset freezes. Additionally, any assets of a proscribed group are liable to seizure as terrorist assets.
The Home Secretary exercises her power to proscribe only after a thorough review of the available relevant information and evidence on the organisation. This includes open source material, intelligence material and advice that reflects consultation across government, including with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The cross–Whitehall proscription review group
supports the Home Secretary in her decision-making process. The Home Secretary’s decision to proscribe is taken only after great care and consideration of the particular case and it is appropriate that it must be approved by both Houses.
Having carefully considered all the evidence, the Home Secretary believes that AAS-B, Ajnad Misr and JKI are currently concerned in terrorism and that it is appropriate to exercise her discretion to proscribe them.
Lord Triesman (Lab): My Lords, I support this order. I have a couple of questions, on the basis that this at least was familiar terrain to me at an earlier stage. I thank the Minister for his detailed and helpful description of the purpose.
As the three organisations were being described, it was clear that there had been a considerable period in which there had been a review of their activities and a review against the standards that the Home Secretary applies in making the judgment and then seeking the view of the cross-Whitehall group. In one case—I think it was that of AAS-B—this discussion follows fairly closely on a decision that has been taken by the United Nations. In the case of the other groups, the issues seem to have been discussed in international fora relatively earlier.
My anxiety—it is no more than that—about which I am seeking clarification is whether it is not possible for the UK Government to move relatively faster when threats from these kinds of groups materialise. I recognise and respect the concept of thoroughness, and most certainly it should never be done in a way that does not take full account of all the facts. However, it may be that the reality is that a number of these groups have been operating in a hostile way for rather longer than we should tolerate, and in those circumstances there may be an argument for a methodology that gives more pace to what is required for the security of our country.
I ask that not because I want anyone to abandon thoroughness or the Home Secretary to take precipitate decisions that do not make sense—I would not advocate that—but I want to make sure that at the very earliest moment the calibration of threat shows that the people of this country, and those with whom we also have interests through our alliances and through other routes, are protected. Is there a view that the process could be faster? I hope that that is a simple point, which I make in support of the order being sought.
Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of the purpose of, and need for, this order, which we support. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Bates, for his letter to my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon, setting out the reasons for the order.
As the Opposition, we are obviously limited in the response we can make, since we do not have access to the intelligence that presumably has led the Home Secretary to go down the road that she wishes to take. The Explanatory Memorandum sets out some information about the three organisations that are covered by this order and will be proscribed under Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They are considered
to be organisations that commit or participate in acts of terrorism, prepare for, promote or encourage terrorism, or are otherwise concerned in terrorism. The Terrorism Act 2006 also included in the grounds for proscription organisations that unlawfully glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism.
These organisations appear to have been involved in activities justifying proscription for a little while, the point made by my noble friend Lord Triesman. One was involved, as the Minister said, in an attack that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans in Libya more than two years ago. Why has the Home Secretary decided to lay the order now, rather than at an earlier date?
The report earlier this week from the Intelligence and Security Committee referred to difficulties expressed by the Metropolitan Police in prosecuting charges for membership of a proscribed organisation, and it appears that there have been very few such successful prosecutions. Why is this the case? Presumably, an order such as the one that we are discussing comes about because there is hard evidence of the terrorist-related activities and aims of these organisations, and evidence that there are people who are active in these organisations. Why is it, then, that once an organisation has been proscribed, the evidence that must surely have been accumulated to justify the proscription order in the first place is not then used as the basis for making the case to prosecute successfully at least some of those presumably involved in those organisations? It would be helpful if the Minister could say why successful prosecutions appear to be the case very infrequently. Can he also provide, now or subsequently, information on the number of people who have been, first, prosecuted and, secondly, successfully prosecuted under each of the 15 orders that have previously been laid under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000 for supporting, belonging to, inviting support for or arranging a meeting to support a proscribed organisation? The point of these questions is simply to try and establish exactly what, and how much, these orders are achieving in reality.
There is also provision under the Terrorism Act 2000 for the Secretary of State to remove an organisation from the list of proscribed organisations. How often has this happened, and in respect of which organisations? If no one has been prosecuted, for membership of a particular proscribed organisation, either at all or within the past few years, would that be regarded by the Government as a reason for considering the removal of that organisation from the list? Are the Government satisfied that the organisations already proscribed still represent a terrorist threat to this country, and do the Government regularly review the situation to satisfy themselves that the case still remains for organisations already there to continue to be on the proscribed list?
Do the three organisations that we are discussing today use social media to promulgate their unacceptable aims and objectives? If so, has action already been taken, or is it going to be taken, to seek to ensure that this no longer continues to be the case? In indicating again that we support the order, I nevertheless hope that the Minister will be able to throw some light on the issues that I and my noble friend Lord Triesman have raised.
We believe that the three organisations should be added to the list of proscribed organisations. I am glad of and acknowledge the support that we have received from all corners of the House, not only on this but in the previous 15 proscription orders. The noble Lords, Lord Triesman and Lord Rosser, talked about the timing of proscription. The decisions on whether and when to proscribe a particular organisation are taken after extensive consideration and in the light of a full assessment of the available information, identifying whether a group is currently concerned with terrorism and meets the statutory process for proscription. There is then the discretionary element—that the Home Secretary has to decide whether it is right in the light of our national interests, even if it meets the statutory definition of terrorism, to proscribe the organisation. Sometimes it may not be. It is important, for example, that it does not adversely impact any ongoing investigations and supports other members of the international community. It is not appropriate for us to discuss the specific intelligence that leads to the decision to proscribe.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also asked about the low number of prosecutions for proscription offences. In answer to his specific question on numbers, between 2001 and the end of March 2014, 33 people have been charged with proscription offences as primary offences in Great Britain and 16 have been convicted. The Terrorism Act covers a broad range of offences and different offences may well be adopted on the basis of the evidence that is presented. However, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service continue to examine these issues carefully.
We regard proscription as a valuable tool, as it supports other disruptive activity, including immigration disruption, prosecutions for other offences, messaging to deter funding and recruitment and asset freezes. The assets of a proscribed organisation are subject to seizure. Although we realise that issues are involved in the numbers of prosecutions, there have been some, and it is worth noting that, in its report yesterday, the Intelligence and Security Committee said that,
In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser’s question about how many groups have been deproscribed, at the moment there is one: the People’s Mujaheddin of Iran. He also asked why evidence is not used to justify the proscription of a group to prosecute individuals such as members. The test for proscribing a group is whether it is concerned with terrorism. The evidence that is relevant to that test is not relevant to an assessment of whether particular individuals are members or supporters of that group.
In terms of any progress on deproscription and whether it is reviewed continuously, we do not give a running commentary on proscribed organisations. On 10 December 2013, the Minister said that he would only consider deproscription on application. Anyone or any individual connected with the organisation at any time can apply for deproscription and the Home Secretary is required to determine that application within 90 days. In addition, it is important to note that Section 10 of the Terrorism Act provides that evidence of anything done in relation to a deproscription application is not admissible as evidence in proceedings against an individual for an offence under that Act. Therefore there is no disincentive there to apply for deproscription.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also mentioned action on social media. Some 65,000 sites have been taken down, 42,000 of those within the last year. Therefore there is a lot of activity in that area, which is obviously a very relevant one. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, which was presented to Parliament yesterday in the House of Commons, will contain provisions on that, and this House will have plenty of time to talk about social media in the context of counterterrorism.
I hope that I have answered most of the questions. I will now summarise. Proscription is based on clear evidence that an organisation is concerned in terrorism. It is the Home Secretary’s firm opinion that on the basis of the available evidence, all three groups named in this order meet the statutory test for proscription, and it is appropriate in each case for the Home Secretary to exercise her discretion to proscribe these groups. Therefore, I commend this order to the House.