HL Deb 08 June 1992 vol 537 cc1135-62

Debate resumed.

4.58 p.m.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, perhaps we can now leave the Continent of Europe and one or two other matters and return to our schools. When one speaks in the middle of a debate and everyone gets up to leave one knows what it must be like to be a comedian who dies in the house. I am sorry, but I must return to the subject of the debate.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain—it now seems a long time ago—referred to the magic things that the Government were doing for the Arts Council, for heritage and for drama. In the last part of her speech she asked some relevant questions, but this Question put down by my noble friend refers to schools. Unless things have changed, when a school wanted to take part in anything connected with the Arts Council, the Arts Council did not do it for nothing. There may have been change. The Government or the Arts Council may have become munificent. We should keep to the subject put so admirably by my noble friend. We must protect the arts (visual and static) if we are not to lose them altogether.

I was reading Uncle Tom's Cabin to one of my grandchildren yesterday. Significantly, slaves were punished if they learnt to read. For many centuries the working classes were punished if they learnt to read. Why? When we can read we begin to see things differently; we begin to think. Everything that happens in school must have relevance to the life the child will live afterwards. When I taught in primary school, a long time ago, we had strange things like examinations, fire drills, gates that shut so that child molesters could not get in. I know that we have advanced since then, but I wonder how far.

If it is not compulsory to include the arts in the curriculum one is inclined to ask: why? Will we have a nation of computer operators who do not know who Shakespeare was, have never seen a ballet, never performed in something or painted a picture themselves? Is that the kind of society we want?

I want everyone to have a decent job. That is the entitlement of every human being. But work is not the only part of life; we hope that in future we shall have more leisure time. It is a fact that has never been verified, but we know that the people who have had the worst education invariably have rather dull, static jobs. They do not live in exciting houses because they are not given a high wage. Their leisure is extraordinarily limited, confined to watching the box. If noble Lords think that they can learn anything from television nowadays they must be out of date. It is frightening that night after night rubbish is churned out for people to watch. It is equally frightening to think of the papers that people read. I was in a hospital ward with 11 beds and out of the 11 people eight took a paper owned by a certain Australian; only three other papers were sold. I became worried. Is this the electorate? Are these the people who vote? Our only hope for schools is to bring to the children every kind of experience that we can offer.

I quote D. H. Lawrence because it is extraordinary how accurate he was. About 50 years ago he said that most entertainments are described as anti-life, a view of the world in which progress is conceived to be the seeking of material possessions. How could he have known that so far ahead? But he did, and that is exactly what we are reduced to.

Yesterday I received the prospectus of two private schools where I shall give prizes. It is significant that their curriculum still includes the arts. The prospectus says that all girls go on to a higher education, the majority proceeding to university. GCSE is taken by all of them. Subjects taught include religious studies, English language, literature, maths, French—all the usual ones. Then we come to art, music, dance, drama, games, swimming. If that is good enough for private schools it is certainly good enough for state schools. They are entitled to it.

My son had the misfortune to be made redundant as head of his department after 30 years in a school —a destructive experience. He was a brilliant classics student from Cambridge, but his subject was English. He was recently interviewed by a head who said, "Yes, I'll offer you the job. By the way, you now have to include drama". Being an honest man, he said, "I can't take drama". When he came back and told me, I said, "You take the English and I'll take the drama".

Is that how such subjects are regarded? Are they just tacked on to something else? They do not merit this lack of consideration. We are entitled to believe that we are an educated nation.

What does "education" mean? It means that we enjoy all the visual arts, sports, participation in activities with other people in our spare time, discussions, and books. Those are all a part of education. Yes, maths is important and so is science; though scientists are doing some things that are dangerous and they should have a rest. But let us have something else as well—the arts.

I remember another quotation, from Auden. He said: Here were decent, godless people, Their only monument the asphalt road And a thousand lost golf balls". That may be what your Lordships want, but it is not what I want. I want an educated nation in the true sense of the word, particularly including the arts.

I hope that the Question tabled by my noble friend Lady Birk will be answered because the problem must be examined now or it will be too late. She is always well on the ball and we are lucky in having the Minister, Lady Blatch, because she will probably give us the answer. If it is "no", let us plead with her to look again at the matter.

5.6 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, if there is any doubt as to whether the Question on the Order Paper is necessary—as seems to be suggested —the House need not only rely upon my assurance that it is, I can quote more authoritative sources. For example, the Question asked Her Majesty's Government, how they propose to protect the arts in schools, now that they are no longer guaranteed under the national curriculum". If I am not mistaken, the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, says that the Question is unnecessary, the arts are already protected under the national curriculum. I believe that we can safely say that my noble friend on the Front Bench is right and the noble Baroness is wrong, but there is no need to rely on me for that.

I draw on another source. The National Campaign for the Arts has produced a paper which gives a little detail and may help to clarify the subject. It states: Only visual arts and music are … core subjects in the National Curriculum and of the ten core subjects they alone become optional at Key Stage 4—for children between the ages of 14 and 16. Drama and media studies have been absorbed into English; dance has been absorbed into PE and can be dropped at Key Stage 3 (11 years old). Schools are not required to offer any arts subjects for children between the ages of 14 and 16". Perhaps I may gently suggest to the noble Baroness that the quotation shows that the Question is necessary.

However I do not have to rely on that source. Noble Lords will recall that as recently as last Tuesday the noble Lord, Lord Palumbo, addressed a group of us in Committee Room 5. He gave us a note of what he would say and began by referring to education: Education is perhaps the most important issue in the strategy". He was talking about the amazing document, Towards a National Arts and Media Strategy, produced by the Arts Council. I shall say a word about that later, if it is in order. His note continued: it is at the heart of developing an interest in and an understanding of the arts and media. The Department of Education and Science should make an arts subject a mandatory part of the national curriculum for the 14–16 age group. The central place of education in the arts must be reflected in the support and funding provided for arts organisations. If it is to be a key part of their work it must be funded as such, not as an add-on". I believe most of us would agree with those comments. As the quotation was taken from the words of the noble Lord, Lord Palumbo, we can reasonably say that he would not make a point of the necessity of the arts to the 14 to 16 age group if it was unnecessary to do so. He has made the point that an arts subject should become a mandatory part of the national core curriculum for the 14 to 16 age group.

I must ask myself whether it is appropriate in this short debate to wander away a little from the Question on the Order Paper. I believe it is appropriate to do so because education of the young can only be effective if young people are educated in the arts as a whole. Young people need not only to be educated in the arts but they must also be shown the arts. The arts need to be taken into schools and young people need to be taken to theatres and to art galleries. In other words, they need to be introduced to the reality of the arts and not merely be lectured about them.

It is important, therefore, that theatres throughout the country should be enabled to provide scholastic education. The funds for providing such education have been seriously cut. Therefore, the amount of theatre to which young people are exposed today is very much reduced and they see much less theatre than has hitherto been the case. Some companies specialising in theatrical education for children are in serious financial difficulty. I hope that when the Minister replies to this debate she will address that point. I hope she will either say that that problem will be faced or, if she thinks there is no problem, she will explain why she holds that view. If she thinks there is no problem, that is contrary to what I believe are the facts.

I wish to talk a little about the Government's proposal to reorganise the structure of the arts. Noble Lords may be surprised to hear me say that I think the Government are absolutely right in principle as regards what they are doing in this matter. Long ago when I was a Minister myself I tried hard to persuade my colleagues that it was necessary to appoint a Minister who could cover the whole area of the arts, media, heritage and other such areas. By virtue of the width of that coverage such a Minister would rate a place in the Cabinet where he could speak for himself and not merely have to rely on speaking through intermediaries.

The Government are therefore absolutely right to have established the structure that they have. The Government have taken my advice. This is about the only occasion they have ever done so and perhaps they will never do so again. Therefore, I must make the most of this occasion. I repeat that the Government are right in principle as regards the structure that they have established, but they have got into a terrible mess.

I believe the noble Baroness will not disagree with me when I say that the Secretary of State really has only one Minister under his direct aegis, as it were. He is taking on an enormous task; in fact, the task is staggeringly big. At the moment I do not believe the Secretary of State has enough help. The noble Baroness who is to reply to the debate today may be the right person to add to the group. Then the Secretary of State would have a couple of Ministers to help him. That is the minimum number necessary to carry out this task properly.

Another curious matter has arisen. Before the Secretary of State was established in his present role the Arts Council embarked on a massive document entitled Towards a National Arts and Media Strategy. The Arts Council has taken a couple of years to compile that document. The document is an illustration of the Arts Council stepping right outside its own ground because it is not up to the Arts Council to say what should be done about the media. If that role belongs to anyone, it belongs to a Minister and not to the Arts Council. Nevertheless, the Arts Council has suggested what should be done about the media.

As the Secretary of State is short of a Minister, perhaps he had better take a look at the Arts Council's document—in any case, that document will be presented to him—and decide to what extent he agrees with it. I believe he will discover there is a lot of good stuff in the document. It is not absolutely perfect and I disagree with some of it, but a lot of work has been put into the document and I suggest that the Government should give it serious consideration.

I suggest to the Arts Council that the Minister well understands the necessity for co-operation between the media and the Arts Council. I am sure he understands that they must work closely together. However, it is not the job of the Arts Council to tell the BBC what to do and, equally, it is not the job of the BBC to tell the Arts Council what to do. One of the virtues of appointing a Minister responsible for the national heritage is that we may escape from the situation where people try to do each other's jobs, because someone is in charge of the whole matter. Therefore the Arts Council can get on with its job of supporting the arts and the BBC can get on with its job instead of treading on each other's toes.

The BBC is an important patron of the arts. However, what the Arts Council states about the BBC in the document I have referred to is not necessarily wrong. Nevertheless, those two organisations should not tread on each other's toes. The trouble is that we have never quite got right the structure of the arts in this country. The Government have made an attempt to get that structure right, but they will have to tread carefully in the matter of structure as it is easy to make a serious error. Everything depends on the relationship between the parties. If we can get the relationships right, everything will go smoothly. If we get the relationships wrong, chaos will ensue. I have ranged rather wide of the Question on the Order Paper, but, I could not resist doing so. I must beg your Lordships' pardon if I have done so.

5.16 p.m.

Lord Marlesford

My Lords, I propose to speak briefly in this interesting debate. I wish to say straight away that I personally am a great supporter of the national curriculum but I believe it must be a balanced curriculum. We must have a curriculum that involves computers and the arts. I say with great respect to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, that she was a little harsh on computers. If Britain's economic performance has suffered from anything it has suffered from insufficient computer education rather than from insufficient education in the arts.

The noble Baroness was also a little harsh on television. I have always thought one of the great achievements of the Government led by the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, was the establishment of the Open University. I doubt whether the Open University would have ever got off the ground without television. I have enjoyed some of my most memorable experiences in art education when watching Open University television programmes on the arts.

I express the hope to my noble friend that the process of setting up the national curriculum involves real consultation. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, has just referred to Key Stage 4 which is concerned with arts and music for the 14 to 16 year olds. I understand the National Curriculum Council consulted on that matter. The conclusion it reached was not the conclusion implemented by the Secretary of State, who decided to include neither arts nor music in the national curriculum. I hope this Government believe in openness and participation. That must mean real consultation. Consultation cannot be a sham.

I have been reminded of a letter which was written to The Times many years ago by A.P. Herbert after he had sat for the nth time on a Royal Commission and had his advice rejected. He said that the Government were like an elderly hypochondriac, always asking for a second opinion but never taking it.

5.19 p.m.

Baroness Lockwood

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for tabling her Question this afternoon. I believe it is well known in the House that my noble friend has been concerned about the teaching of the arts in schools, not only since the national curriculum was introduced but also prior to its adoption.

I recall the debate we had in Committee on the Education Reform Act 1988 when my noble friend, as she indicated, sought to introduce an amendment which would have linked the various aspects of the arts as an integrated subject instead of their being diversified as they are at present. The Minister responding to that debate was the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. She indicated that the Government were concerned that replacing art and music as foundation subjects with some generic title covering all the creative arts would result in less attention being given to arts subjects in the national curriculum and in those subjects being treated with less rigour. She also said that the Government did not want to lose sight of the particular attributes of each individual arts subject.

We have to ask whether those objectives are being achieved. It seems to me that we are now moving in the opposite direction from that in which the Minister indicated at that time the Government wanted to move. As my noble friend Lord Jenkins said, dance is included in physical education and can be dropped at the age of 11. Art and music, the only two core arts subjects in the curriculum, are now being dropped as compulsory subjects from Key Stage 4, at the age of 14. That does not seem to me to be treating them with the rigour and attention suggested by the Minister. It will be seen as a downgrading of the subject and could well have repercussions on parental choice, the availability of qualified teachers and general employment prospects in the field of the arts and culture generally.

Despite all the excellent initiatives and projects outside the curriculum which the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, mentioned and which we all applaud, if arts and music are not compulsory subjects up to the age of 16 there is a likelihood that many parents will be tempted to direct their children's choices into other options to the detriment of a balanced education. At present 45 per cent. of children study art and design to GCSE level. I am sure that we would all agree that British designers have an excellent reputation, and that is probably due in no small part to the strength of education in that subject. We have to ask whether that will continue if the subject is regarded as being of less importance or whether the planners of the curriculum will be forced to reduce the opportunities for art and design as an optional subject in order to make more room for other compulsory subjects up to Key Stage 4.

Similarly, the teaching of music in British schools during the past four or five decades was much envied by other countries but regrettably the availability of resources has been eroded. There is already a shortage of music teachers. I should like to ask the Minister what effect the Government expect this change in the national curriculum to have on the supply of music teachers. Is it a case of trying to spread jam more thinly? If so, is there not a danger that the supply of music teachers will become even more acute as the career opportunities in education decline?

One other aspect of the orders which I should like to mention as being of some concern is that affecting the ethnic communities, a subject mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. There is a view in some quarters that the national curriculum syllabus is rather narrow in its representation of art and music and appears not to encourage the inclusion of other cultures such as those in multi-cultural areas of the country—Asian, African and Caribbean cultures. I understand that the orders have been amended since originally drafted, but there are still some reservations as to whether the orders are sufficiently wide to accommodate the multi-cultural arts. I should like the Minister to comment on that.

Some authorities with multi-cultural populations have developed programmes of teaching which have combined the different cultures and have led to the enrichment of the education of both indigenous and ethnic children. That is particularly so in those areas such as Bradford, where museums and art galleries provide a resource for teaching which reflects the whole of the cultural diversity of the city.

The question also arises, and again perhaps the Minister will comment on it, as to whether the shortened timescale—the fact that art and music are not to be compulsory after the age of 14—does not make it more difficult to include the various cultures in the curriculum.

We are all concerned, and have been since the 1988 Act, that the national curriculum should present a broad and balanced educational experience for all pupils. We have to ask whether the introduction of the present orders meets that aim.

5.28 p.m.

Baroness David

My Lords, I am very glad that my noble friend has asked this Question because it enables many of us to voice some of our anxieties about the state of the arts in schools—and of course the state of the arts in schools affects the future of art in society as a whole.

Most of us present accept the premise that, if we are to have the broadly-based and balanced curriculum which Section 1 of the Education Reform Act demands, the arts must form an integral part of it. That has been stressed in the past over and over again. In 1982 there was the excellent report sponsored by the Gulbenkian Foundation, The Arts in Schools —Principles, Practice and Provision, which should be compulsory reading for all involved in education. The report stated: For the reasons we elaborate throughout the Report we are not prepared to concede that the Arts can be options on the curriculum which can, under pressure of time, space and resources be dispensed with … We want to form a body of enlightened opinion drawn from all walks of life which will bring general public opinion to share our conviction and see our vision of the role of the arts in general education and the role of general education in the life of our mass industrial society". What has happened? On the credit side, as has been said, we have a Minister in the Cabinet, Mr. Mellor, who is responsible for heritage. But I was disappointed that in his article on 25th May in The House Magazine devoted to heritage he made no mention of arts in schools. That must surely be the foundation of what he claimed to be his department's function in enabling people to reach the summit of cultural, artistic and sporting achievement while helping the rest of us to enjoy our participation in all those activities.

Mark Fisher in an accompanying article at least recognised that and that our education and training system for the arts in schools and colleges was in danger of breaking down, a situation made worse by Kenneth Clarke's perverse decision to meddle with the reports of the national curriculum working parties on the visual arts and music, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, and Sir John Manduell.

So now the visual arts and music are separate core subjects —as has been said, dance and drama having been absorbed into PE and English—but only to age 14. In 1988 from the Labour Front Bench we argued continually against making the core curriculum too prescriptive. We saw the dangers of trying to squeeze all those subjects into the compulsory school programme. We argued for greater flexibility. Our predictions have been justified by the constant changes that the Government have had to make since the Act was passed. Only last week we heard that technology was in real trouble.

The danger is that if a subject is not on the prescribed list it will be ignored. For instance, dance, which is one of several elements in the PE curriculum, is to become compulsory for primary pupils but not for secondary pupils. So after the age of 11 a pupil may have no further teaching in that discipline, which is a pity because some children are very good at it. They can express themselves in dance, get great satisfaction from it and show their ability there when they may have much less talent in other fields or in academic subjects. I see that both the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers at their recent conferences were against dropping music and art at Key Stage 4.

We have all been very much aware of the controversies over the arts and music working party reports and the way that they have been treated by Kenneth Clarke. I regret very much that the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, was not able to speak in this debate. It would have been informative to hear his views. He must have been very annoyed to have his recommendations changed radically. He did not mince his words. He said: Clodhopping and mindless changes to art teaching in schools are being considered by Kenneth Clarke". In outspoken comments, which parallel protests about the music curriculum, he said that the National Curriculum Council was trying to cram a lot of 'isms into an already full programme for five to 14 year-olds.

The council rejected the working party's recommendation for an integrated approach based on three attainment targets in making, investigating and understanding. Instead, prompted by Kenneth Clarke, it proposed two targets, one in knowledge and understanding and the second in making and investigating. Dividing the curriculum into two meant that pupils would spend half their time in active mode, painting or making things, and half their time in talking about art history, instead of integrating theory and practice.

There are also criticisms about the insistence by David Pascall, chairman of the National Curriculum Council, on detailed knowledge of Western art and major figures, altering the worldwide scope of the original proposals. This point was touched on by my noble friend Lady Lockwood and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. In a multi-cultural society, the original proposals seemed to me to make sense. There have been similar criticisms of the final music proposals.

I want to ask the Minister how her department expects teachers, and in particular primary teachers in schools where there are not specialist teachers, to deliver the curriculum in arts and music. To underline this point I should like to read out to the House what pupils are expected to do by the age of 11 as indicated in the document Art in the National Curriculum which was published in April. I imagine that I have the final version. By the age of 11, at the end of Key Stage 2, pupils should be able—and this is just one of the things that they should be able to do: [to] begin to identify the characteristics of art in a variety of genres from different periods, cultures and traditions, showing some knowledge of the related historical background". The programme of study demands that pupils should: look at and discuss art from early, Renaissance and later periods in order to start to understand the way in which art has developed and the contribution of influential artists or groups of artists to that development". The examples given are that pupils could: talk about how subjects are illustrated in Egyptian wall painting, on Greek vases, Assyrian relief panels and in the Bayeux tapestry; discuss how Breughel the Elder depicted the everyday life of Flemish people in the 16th century; compare how nature is represented in Impressionist paintings by Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Renoir, Degas, with the work of Turner, Constable and Hiroshige". I admire a great many primary school teachers, but even with specialist arts teachers there may be some problems about this programme. We have also been warned that the evidence available indicates that many primary schools would not be able to deliver the national curriculum in music without substantial and continuing support through in-service training for the whole staff. I must ask the Minister whether that in-service training will be forthcoming.

I am sure that noble Lords will agree with another comment. In a classroom with many West Indian or Asian children there is some justification for broadening the curriculum to embrace Caribbean and Indian traditions, though it is a rare teacher who is equally knowledgeable about raga, reggae and Rigoletto. Granted that teachers, and particularly primary teachers, will need help, what will be the position of advisory and peripatetic teachers who have been essential in helping with those subjects? Cuts in spending by LEAs because of overall restrictions on local authority spending and poll tax capping have meant a serious deterioration in these services.

I can give the House two recent examples. The Basildon Towngate Theatre has been forced into liquidation because of the withdrawal of local authority grant. Perhaps I may quote from an article about it in The Times: The disappointed performers include local amateur groups and hundreds of local schoolchildren, who had been rehearsing for a gala in July. The theatre was also a base for 'Towngate about Town', an 'outreach' group which ran theatre workshops for adults and children and toured local schools with a small team of performers". My other example is Coventry Peripatetic Music Services. Subsidies for instrumental music lessons are to be ended to save £200,000 in the current year, £373,000 next year. Parents will be required to pay increases of between 200 per cent. and 833 per cent., depending on the student's level. More than 4,800 children used the service last year.

Another related question that I should like to ask the Minister is how opted-out schools will cope with their music and art teaching. The LEA gave invaluable help with its advisory teachers, its peripatetic teachers and its inspectors. Without those back-up services what will happen? Considering the restricted timetable, will there be any plans to extend after-school arts provision? Will there be local school clusters to provide a broad range of disciplines—for example, subjects which disappear from the timetable, such as dance? Has the Minister any forward-looking ideas to offer to make up for the difficulties that we envisage will occur?

What plans does the department have for teacher training to cover the new situation and new curriculum? The decision to remove responsibility for teacher training from higher education institutions and pass it to individual schools will place an almost impossible strain on specialist arts teachers. Birmingham Polytechnic has been told to wind up its Drama in Education course after next year's intake and Middlesex Polytechnic have been told to close its course at the end of this year.

I have said that there are a great many problems about delivery of the arts in school. The Department of Education —I presume it is the Department of Education to which this Question is directed—must recognise those problems. I hope that in her reply the Minister will tell us how it is proposed to solve them. I look forward very much also to her reply to the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, whose questions were very relevant.

5.40 p.m.

Baroness Brigstocke

My Lords, first, I must make a double apology—to the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and to my noble friend the Minister—for missing my place early on through my own fault, and also in that I am obliged to leave the Chamber early as I have a long-standing appointment at the Department of National Heritage. At least the noble Baroness will approve of the reason for my absence. I am profoundly grateful to her for raising the question of the arts in schools. Her timing is naturally impeccable. This week there can hardly be a family in the land which does not have a teenager sitting an examination, whether it be a 14 year-old sitting for the first time a SAT (standard assessment test at the end of Key Stage 3) or a 16 year-old sitting a GCSE, not to mention thousands of older students taking A-levels, BTECs, NCVQs, City and Guilds or RSAs.

Examinations are an important element in the learning process. They are important for the teachers in order to demonstrate what their pupils have learned not necessarily what the teachers have taught. They are important for the pupils to help them monitor their own progress and to train them for those frequent occasions in later life when they will be required to deliver against the clock, on time, regardless of their inclination or feelings.

However, examinations are only one element in the learning process. Let me say in parenthesis that after years of inadequate and insufficient testing, we may be in danger of overdoing it. I am, however, sure that the Government will listen to the real concern voiced by the teachers who are operating the tests. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, has already urged the necessity for consultation. I hope that we shall soon settle down to a system of testing which has the necessary rigour on the one hand but without unnecessary overloading and stress.

The national curriculum is a safeguarded basic minimum for every single school child in the country —at least it ought to be. It is a great step forward and we should be proud of the great Education Reform Act 1988. But that is all that it is or can be: a basic minimum, a starting point. The new Government have a glorious opportunity to build on that basis. I am sure that they will do so.

At present our systems of examination and assessment test only certain kinds of ability or capability. But schools are places where much more can be learned than mere facts. Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University propounded several years ago the theory of multiple intelligences: the theory which isolates seven kinds of intelligence. It is suggested that in schools we test mainly logicomathematical and linguistic skills. However those are only two of the seven. According to Howard Gardner, the others are musical, aesthetic, spatial and physical skills, and two kinds of personal skills—interpersonal and intrapersonal. Interpersonal skills cover how good one is with other people, how well one works in a team, on a committee, in the cast of a play, in an orchestra, as a member of one's family or as a member of the community. Intrapersonal skills cover how comfortable one is with oneself, how honest about one's own strengths and weaknesses, self-discipline, self-confidence and motivation. Those mainly unexamined and unexaminable abilities must be fostered and developed in our schools. They are the lifeblood, the inspiration, to fill in the bare bones of the curriculum.

Perhaps it is not feasible to make drama, dance, music and the arts compulsory in the bare bones curriculum after the age of 14. But it is feasible to help schools to be places where every 14, 15 and 16 year-old has the chance to act, play a musical instrument, sing, draw, paint, sculpt, pot or sew. I want girls and boys to be literate—I include, I have to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, computer literacy—and fluent in, say, German, numerate, and able to play the cello, the bassoon or even the triangle, or able to take part in a class or school play, even if it is only managing the props or devising the lighting system.

Now that schools will be running their own budgets, what is to become of the local orchestra and the local education authority's central pool of peripatetic music teachers? Who will give help and encouragement to teachers not only of English but also of history and languages to use drama as a real learning resource?

In 1914 in Glasgow my mother, who was a student teacher at the time, wrote her MA thesis on "The graphical representation of all subjects": learning through looking, training the eye and the ear, learning by doing and by trying. As the great American educator, John Dewey, put it, we must safeguard the arts in the middle and later years of schooling.

Let me conclude with a story. I hope that it illustrates how dangerous it can be to compartmentalise our school education by putting academic subjects on one side and non-academic subjects—the arts, music, drama and dance—on the other. Many years ago two parents brought their 16 year-old daughter to me asking whether I would take her into the sixth form. The mother was a well known ballet dancer, the father an eminent surgeon. The daughter, Caroline, had spent her entire school career at the Royal Ballet School. However, she had just learnt that certain small and to me totally invisible physical characteristics would prevent her from reaching the top of the ballet world. Caroline therefore decided to follow her father and study medicine. Imagine the alarm of the science teachers when I begged them to accept Caroline for an A-level course in biology, chemistry and physics. She had studied only a little chemistry and absolutely no physics at that time. However, she possessed two qualities: the determination and self-discipline which she had acquired by the rigorous study of ballet, of dance. The science staff, bless them, accepted her and Caroline passed all three A-levels, graduating with a first class degree in medical studies from Cambridge. She is now a lecturer in the medical faculty at Birmingham University. I have two former pupils who took the opposite course. One was a graduate in modern languages, the other in classics. They now are embarking on successful singing careers.

Therefore this is my plea to the Government. Please build on the basis of the fine national curriculum and do not destroy the wonderful achievements of the 1970s and 1980s when we had spectacular county youth orchestras and when class music and practical art were thriving in so many state schools—more successfully than in many independent schools at the time, I have to admit.

Our new Secretary of State for National Heritage wrote in a recent edition of The House Magazine: We want to ensure that more and more people can share the enjoyment and benefits that participation in sporting, cultural and artistic activities can bring". I am sure that the new Secretary of State for Education will realise what that means in terms of provision for drama, dance, art and music in our schools.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I should like to reply since I have been attacked on two counts about computers. As an ex-teacher I have never seen so many appalling mis-spellings and so much indifferent English as I have since computers began to turn out those dreadful things that they call letters. That is why I do not like computers.

5.50 p.m.

Lord Ritchie of Dundee

My Lords, in speaking so near to the end of the debate my problem is that I have heard and learnt so much. I have scribbled a great deal over my script and I now find that I am unable to read that. I have also crossed out a great deal of what I had intended to say because other noble Lords have spoken more ably. Therefore, I ask your Lordships to excuse me if I am a little inarticulate.

I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, for introducing the debate. It is evident that many noble Lords think deeply about the subject and therefore the debate has been thoroughly worthwhile. I wish to take a slightly different approach and quote from the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, who unfortunately is not present today. Last autumn we debated special education, a subject in which she is expert. In speaking about education generally, she said: the purpose of education for all children, whatever their abilities, is to improve their understanding and enjoyment of the world, and thus to improve their chances of obtaining freedom, independence and an ability to make choices and therefore gain some meaning to their lives". I believed that to be the definition of a true educationist. I apologise for using that term, which is disapproved of by my noble friend Lord Airedale, but I believe that the word has meaning.

The noble Baroness then contrasted that definition by saying: The principle behind the Education Reform Act 1988 seems radically different. If anyone is defined as having needs in that Act, it is not children but society or employers who need a workforce with certain competences in order to meet the economic demand of society as a whole".—[Official Report, 20/11/91; col. 938.] I sympathise deeply with the view that she, as a true educationist, produced.

In my experience, children learn in two main ways. The first is by the motivation of achievement. They must have the feeling that they are learning; that they have learnt one thing and can put it behind them and go on to the next. That is a linear approach whereby one collects achievements. They may be good test results, knowledge of certain books, certain stages of learning and examinations. The second and more important aspect of school life is the imaginative or emotional experiences which one can have as a child. Such experiences are to be had mostly between the ages of seven and 14.

The national curriculum necessarily works in the first way. That is the linear approach, taking no account of the second approach and the enrichment which children need to obtain. That is the source of my discomfort about public division, which I protested about during debates on the Education Reform Act four years ago. I remember in particular an argument about art and music which took place in the small hours. I had forgotten that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, introduced the amendment, but I remember that I supported it, as did my noble friend Lord Donaldson. We wrestled during those small hours; but the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, hardened her heart. In the end we had to accept the Government's wishes, and art and music were set in concrete as part of the national curriculum. However, other aspects of the arts were left out.

Today there has been a great deal of talk about drama being an important artistic activity. It was described by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, as a growth activity. I know that to be true because I began producing plays in schools during the 1940s. I was considered to be most daring when I produced two scenes from Shaw's "St. Joan". Now I read about schools which produce "West Side Story" or "The Sound of Music" and think nothing of it.

I do not believe that the importance of drama in schools can be overestimated. I have seen children grow in confidence and gain an incredible sense of achievement. They have learnt and gained an imaginative insight into characters and situations and have developed in language, articulation and critical faculty. I have seen children watch with a most critical insight what was happening on stage. They also learn discipline and team effort. However, drama was not mentioned but was tacked on later as part of English. I note that it is not mentioned in the English curriculum. There are only three passing references in an HMI publication, which is the study of the implementation of the curricula requirements of the Education Reform Act as regards English.

Dance is mentioned in detail in the curriculum. The activity has fared better therefore, although it is optional after the age of 11. In the autumn of 1985 the National Foundation for Arts Education published a circular which stated: Her Majesty's Government does not have an adequate conception of the arts in education—except one rooted in old-style grammar school subjects of art and music, with the concession of drama within English and dance within P.E.". In 1982 the Education, Science and Arts Committee of another place stated: The term 'the arts' includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television, radio tape and sound recording, the arts related to the presentation, performance, execution, and exhibition of such major art forms, and the study and application of arts to the human environment". The Government's response to that in the national curriculum was not adequate.

The mid-1980s was in some ways a false dawn before the introduction of the national curriculum. The forerunner of the National Curriculum Council, the School Curriculum Development Committee, launched the Arts in Schools project. The objects were to ensure an appropriate balance between the arts and other major areas of the curriculum, between different arts disciplines and between young people's own creative work and their critical understanding of the arts. That gave rise to some admirable projects in schools. For example, my local comprehensive school in Rye, Sussex, undertook a project with the first-year children aged 11. They put aside a 70-minute double period and they chose as their topic the lifeboat disaster that occurred in 1928 in Rye where a 17-man crew of a lifeboat set out one terrible night to rescue a ship in distress and the lifeboat went down with all 17 on board.

The children of the school took that as the subject of their project. They compiled many documents about it. They wrote about it. They went to see people whose parents remembered the disaster. They visited and acted out life as it would have been in Rye harbour in the 1920s. They danced. They painted it and sang about it. Some of the fifth and sixth year children joined in.

That seems to me to be true education in the highest sense. It is of inestimable benefit. It includes history, geography, research, writing, painting, drama and music and also promotes links with the community, constitutes cross-curricular work and teaches resourcefulness among the children.

The point that I am trying to make is that the arts enter into everything. As the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke (who is no longer in her place), said, we cannot compartmentalise subjects in that way and say that the arts are on one side and science is on the other. In fact, the arts enter into everything. Much learning is done through the arts. How can you learn about acoustics without learning about music, or learn about technology or biology without drawing, or learn about social studies without architecture, without knowing the effect that buildings have on people?

Such an integrated approach, which all schools should have, needs time and staff. If there is no 70-minute double period available, which the Thomas Peacock school in Rye had for its project, the project cannot be undertaken. That double period is no longer available because the school is so preoccupied with fulfilling the requirements of the national curriculum. There is no longer time available for such projects.

Also, there is the question of staff. Such an approach in education is labour intensive and requires high levels of staffing. Very often the schools cannot afford the staff that they need. In fact, our local MP visited that school a short while ago when the headmaster complained that he found it difficult to make both ends meet. He was told to cut down his staff. The last thing to be cut should be staff because, apart from the children, they are the most important part of the school.

I believe that an integrated approach throughout the school is needed. I do not believe in setting arts on one side and science on the other. The children need that integrated and holistic approach—I use one of the "vogue" words. I hope that that sort of approach will not be edged out by the demands of the national curriculum, which are extremely exacting. As the noble Baroness, Lady David, pointed out, the things that children are expected to know now for the arts syllabus make one's head reel.

I do not believe that we have got it right yet, and I urgently reinforce the plea of the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, that within two or three years the matter should be reviewed by the Government. It may well be that it will be decided that we have not got it right and that all arts subjects after the age of 14 should be optional in the sense that children must be required to take a selection of them. However, we should not have this rigid insistence on art and music with the other subjects forgotten about. At that age all arts subjects should be optional, with a wider choice. I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to give us some encouragement in that respect.

6.4 p.m.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, we have had a fascinating debate on an extremely important subject. It may perhaps be said of the Secretary of State for Education, as Job said of God: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away", because, despite the wording of our Question, and to be fair to Her Majesty's Government, it must be said that in some ways, the arts now have a stronger place in the curriculum than they have ever had. As my noble friend Lady Birk said, the national curriculum has not destroyed a golden age of arts education because there never was one. Indeed, if it had been suggested in the Cardiff High School, which I attended in the 1940s, that we should give our attention to folk dancing and classical ballet, the members of the rugby XV would have offered quite a robust reply.

However, by defining art and music as foundation subjects for age range five to 16 years, and then making them optional at Key Stage 4, when the organisation of the national curriculum became problematical, the Secretary of State has done the equivalent of the three card trick: now you see it, now you don't.

The Government's thinking seems to have become rooted and fixed in that subject approach. They think of art and music with drama and dance packed off into English and PE respectively. That is it; the arts are settled. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, quoted from the 1982 definition of the arts which was endorsed by the Education, Science and Arts Committee of the House of Commons. The famous words were: The term 'the arts' includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art", and so on. That was 10 years ago and the arts have diversified greatly since then, but the Government have steadfastly ignored both the definition and developments. For them the arts are what they have always been: art, music, a bit of dance for the juniors and drama tucked up in bed with English. That is in a land where our theatres perform the works of Shakespeare, Shaw and Soyinka. That is not a curriculum which plans for and looks forward to the 21st century. It cannot facilitate change. It is stuck in a terrible timewarp of timidity.

However, we have no alternative but to accept that art and music are the school subjects and that the orders for art and music will not be changed in the foreseeable future. The National Curriculum Council has generously allowed that the orders are not a straitjacket but are flexible and are a framework for understanding the subject. With the greatest of all possible respect, I say, "Tell that to the non-specialist teachers in the primary school sector, especially those in small schools and in rural areas". How well my noble friend Lady David made that point. Devoted, experienced and able as most of those teachers are, they will not have a clue as to how to interpret the mechanisms of the orders unless they are given far more guidance about the possibilities of interpretation than they have so far.

I am told by the National Foundation for Arts Education—the professional experts in this matter—that it understands that non-statutory guidance provided by the National Curriculum Council will concentrate on Key Stage 2 and will not give suggestions for the in-service training of teachers. If that is so, I must ask the Minister in her reply to tell us what support, in the interpretation of the orders for the arts over and above the non-statutory guidance, Her Majesty's Government intend to provide for teachers.

Similarly, this House should be told what plans the Government have to provide LEAs and schools with additional finance for training and resources in the implementation of the orders for the arts. They have provided finance for other subjects. Are they prepared to make equal provision for the arts? The Government are directing schools to teach a wider and more demanding curriculum but have said nothing so far, that I have been able to find, about the resources necessary to equip teachers with new skills. They will the end; so far, they are silent about the means.

There is another worrying question. Will teachers and their pupils be assessed on their performance in that element of the curriculum which they have been told to do and which many of them at present are unable to do? As the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke, said, examinations pose problems for the examiner and the examinee. Teachers are ready, willing and able to improve their competence in those new areas but how can they do so when there is such scanty provision for in-service training? LEA support systems simply cannot provide the in-service training and there is no other source of funds. Is it then fair to assess children and their teachers on such a ramshackle basis?

I am forced to ask whether the Government have really considered the effects of making the arts optional at Key Stage 4. The independent schools take much greater care, as my noble friend Lady Phillips said. Obviously schools will take subjects which can be dropped at age 14 less seriously than those which cannot. Provision for the arts will be downgraded and uncertain. It will be anyone's guess how many pupils will select any one option. Teachers will probably not encourage pupils to specialise in subjects which may or may not be available in that specific school after they are 14. In most cases the arts will be marginalised and undervalued. My noble friend Lady Lockwood made that point most strongly.

The exceptions will be places like the Yehudi Menuhin School which caters for those most brilliantly gifted in the arts. But such segregation is the absolute denial of arts education for all. Arts are not solely for the infant prodigies on the violin. By the way, it is vital that those who are infant prodigies on the violin should have an educated audience to play to or indeed an audience at all. That is very much a part of what arts education is all about. But it is equally important that the person who makes planning decisions in a council office should have received an education which included an understanding of the visual quality of our environment. Visual literacy is vital. Too many of us grew up visually illiterate with dire consequences for our world. We need look no further than Marsham Street to prove that. Art education must be about the ability to see our world. It is not enough to memorise the dates of Leonardo da Vinci and the major works of Masaccio.

However, the die has been cast. In January 1991 the then Secretary of State announced that art and music would be optional at Key Stage 4. That was a perverse decision, as my noble friend Lady David pointed out. I do not believe that anyone who has spoken this afternoon supported it. Then followed the draft orders and statutory consultation, and what a farce it was. The overwhelming majority of those consulted favoured keeping art and music as foundation subjects until the age of 16 and supported the working parties. That view was ignored.

I ask the Minister whether or not it is a fact that the final date for submissions was 4th March 1992; that over 800 responses were received and nevertheless, that the orders were placed before Parliament on 10th March. Can such responses be digested and conclusions drawn in four working days? Or does that suggest that the decisions had already been made and that the consultation was no more than a tedious formality? How wise of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, to remind Her Majesty's Government—most tenderly—about that point.

The NFAE, in its response to the NCC Key Stage 4 consultation, drew attention to Section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988. It stated that the school curriculum should promote, the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society". Section 1 also requires schools to prepare, such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life". Do the Government really believe that the "spiritual, moral [and] cultural" development of a child is more or less complete by the age of 14—at the end of Key Stage 3—and that thereafter further spiritual and cultural development is available as an option? Is it not rather the case that the age of 14 to 16 is the very time when mature and adult interests are formed and when pupils can be introduced to the world of the arts outside school? That was a point well made by the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain.

Paragraph 6 of the proposal included the words, all schools should offer some form of aesthetic experience in the curriculum for all 14–16 year olds". The first point to make in that regard is that an aesthetic experience is not the same as an artistic education. Education in the arts is what we should all be talking about, as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, and my noble friends Lord Jenkins of Putney and Lady Birk pointed out. Perhaps the Minister will enlighten us as to what precisely would be the nature and quality of the proposed "aesthetic experience". Will it be the headmaster reading a Shakespeare sonnet to the assembly once a month? Will it be a bunch of gladioli in each classroom? Or will it be a compulsory look at the prettiest girl or boy in the class? Each of those could be some form of aesthetic experience. What exactly do the Secretaries of State have in mind? One finds it difficult to give credence to the idea that the Government took that statutory consultation seriously.

Can the Minister explain why the orders for England and Wales differ? It seems that the Secretary of State for Wales accepted the recommendations of the final working party reports. The Minister of State, Sir Wyn Roberts, is said to have made some such comment as, "We asked for the best advice; it seemed silly not to take it". On the other hand, the Secretary of State for England chose to ignore the working party reports. Therefore it seems that the orders for England now contain two rather than three attainment targets to make it simpler for teachers, and yet the NCC maintain that all the content of the previous three attainment targets is contained within the two.

We all know that Welsh children are infinitely more intelligent, artistic and hardworking than English children. But can the Minister explain to the House the manifest discrimination against English teachers who, it seems, are not clever enough to grasp three attainment targets but must have them simplified into two? Surely attainment targets should be the same on both sides of Offa's Dyke.

The orders for art and music are woefully woolly and will create great confusion among the teachers. They imperfectly reflect the dedicated work of the two working parties. They arise from a narrow ideology and take no notice of the consultations. The decision to make the arts optional at age 14 shows clearly that the Government are not prepared to give the arts the status of the other foundation subjects in the curriculum. How can the Government refute the charge of philistinism in education when the arts are the last subject to be considered, the least to be encouraged and the first to be dropped when Key Stage 4 gets crowded?

Like my noble friend Lady Birk, I beg the Government to reconsider the decision to make the arts optional at Key Stage 4 and at least make it mandatory to study one of the arts to the age of 16. We have a new Secretary of State. He has every opportunity. Otherwise, the words of Job will apply to the succession of them: "Miserable comforters are ye all"

6.17 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, first, we are grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, not only for the Question that she posed to the House today, but also for her major contribution to the arts and heritage both inside and outside Parliament. Perhaps I may say also how much I admired the relaxed style with which the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, dealt with a rather noisy exodus from the House when we had all sat patiently through two long Statements. I know the feeling. It is right to liken it to dying on stage when the audience has lost interest.

Having said that, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, in that she found it difficult to agree with the Question. I do also. I hope that I shall be able to convince people that the words of the Motion that the arts, are no longer guaranteed under the national curriculum" are simply not sustainable as a statement. The importance of arts teaching in schools cannot be over-emphasised. Particularly valuable is the contribution that it makes to enable children to develop creativity and appreciate it in others as part of our rich heritage. The arts are an integral part and an integral element of a child's preparation for adult life.

The Government recognise that. By including art and music as foundation subjects of the national curriculum, we have not only enhanced but assured the position of arts education in the school curriculum. It is this Government who, for the first time, have made available and guaranteed that they will require all pupils aged from five years to 14 years to pursue art and music. That is nine out of the 11 years of a child's life. It will be guaranteed as part of the curriculum. It is a fervent hope that, on the basis of a sound grounding in the subject, that for the final two years of their lives at school that they will continue to find art and music available to them as subjects. No child from here on will leave school without a rigorous grounding in these subjects.

We are fortunate in this country to have many diverse and successful examples of school arts provision. The standards of excellence achieved by school pupils in the expressive arts are particularly impressive. In May 1991 the Department of Education and the Office of Arts and Libraries jointly published Arts and Schools. Following on some of the matters which I have heard today, it is clear that the booklet has not been read. I recommend it to noble Lords. The booklet emphasises the importance of the arts in schools and in the school curriculum. It describes some of the ways in which arts organisations can collaborate with schools to widen the boundaries of classroom learning. The booklet is designed to encourage and to make a contribution to the development of arts education, not just as a separate area of study but also as an integral element of children's education.

The kinds of work which are noted in the booklet include arts residencies where practising artists in all disciplines go into schools to work alongside teachers. Such residencies are increasingly sought by schools, both to supplement areas of the curriculum for which the school may have no expertise and to introduce new techniques and understanding.

Work experience in the arts is now more common in secondary schools as a result of the success of TVEI in schools. It has made work experience in the arts for 14 to 16 year-olds increasingly popular as a discipline and as a vocational "taster". Professional organisations are changing and broadening their approaches to schools and the community. We were graphically reminded by the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, about a number of organisations. Included among them were the English National Opera company, the Royal Opera House, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the London Sinfonietta, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. All of them are active in their particular fields.

The work of museums and galleries is also becoming increasingly important as many have transformed their methods of stimulating interest in their collections and thereby developed their rich educational potential. Here it is worth mentioning a new museum which is shortly to open in Halifax named Eureka. It is a state of the art museum for children which will involve not only looking at exhibits but will also provide a hands-on museum experience for young people. It will be very exciting.

The benefits of such activities are various. Pupils learn new practical skills. Success in art or performance often builds confidence in other areas of the curriculum. We should pay tribute to those involved in this work which so enriches the school curriculum, to the teachers involved in such projects who work hard to prepare children for them, and to continue to develop children's skills and understanding after the formal project has ended.

I should also mention the role of business sponsorship in arts education. I should like in particular to mention the work undertaken through the Sainsbury arts education awards sponsorship scheme, the Barclays awards for youth music theatre, and the Lloyds Bank young theatre challenge run in association with the National Theatre.

Not all excellence derives from outside the school. There are many schools in this country which have developed a well-deserved reputation for their arts education. To mention just two, and recognising the many of which I have no knowledge, the Pimlico school in London has a special commitment to music. On Saturday mornings it becomes a centre for young musicians with some 400 primary and secondary pupils attending. Strength in art and design is a feature of the Chenerit school in Northamptonshire. The school benefits from good links with local companies which produce working briefs for the school's design work in textiles.

Perhaps I may add one or two examples of my own. In my own local authority area of Cambridgeshire some very impressive work is being done with art for young people with disabilities. The orders for the national curriculum contain provisions for the teaching of children with disabilities and in using the arts to do just that. A week ago I visited an excellent special school in Humberside. There were children at the school with profound difficulties. They were not only trying to perform "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat", but also doing the art work. They were also working with materials. It was very exciting work. All of that was going on within mainstream education.

The Government themselves have encouraged the development of the Britschool as part of the city technology college programme. The college is located in Selhurst, Croydon, and has a catchment area of 10 South London boroughs. The British Record Industry Trust has contributed more than £2 million to the establishment of the college, which is the first school of its kind dedicated to education and vocational training for the performing arts and the technology which makes performance possible.

We must not forget our tradition of using not just the formal curriculum but also extra-curricula work to enrich children's education. Perhaps I may take the example of instrumental music teaching. We are all aware of the international recognition given to the remarkably high standards achieved by the best of the many bands, orchestras and choirs which exist at school, area and county level in the country. Again, only a few weeks ago I was privileged to be present at a wonderful concert given by the British Youth Brass Band at the Barbican centre. All the participants were products of schools from across the United Kingdom. The standard was phenomenally high.

Only yesterday I spent the afternoon with my own local peripatetic music school which was celebrating its 25th birthday. It was alive, thriving and very vigorous and celebrating in front of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester. It was a very happy occasion. The arts are alive and flourishing with young people in our schools and outside of them. It is the high standards of excellence and the diversity of arts education which ensures that the cultural heritage and artistic life of this country is nurtured and sustained for the good of us all.

Perhaps I may refer to another school in the heart of Cambridgeshire; namely, the Ramsey Abbey school. It discovered a motte and bailey castle. I want to use that point to say to the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, how wrong he is about putting subjects into little boxes. The national curriculum can become a vehicle for achieving some of these things right across the curriculum. This particular project has contributed to the science, history, English and arts curricula. That can go on and on. The school has just won an award for that, without losing the rigour of any of their subjects in themselves.

While it is right that I take credit for the introduction of the national curriculum for art and music, I recognise that it does not appear in a vacuum. It is rather that the national curriculum in these subjects builds on a long tradition of arts education in schools, setting out the curriculum for these subjects in the form of a carefully structured framework of attainment targets and programmes of study. These requirements will be introduced progressively into maintained schools from September. They will provide a structure within which aspirations and standards will be raised and the range of skills, knowledge and understanding will be widened. The national curriculum will provide a sound basis for challenging and rigorous courses of study in art and music for all pupils.

The Government's support for the arts in the curriculum is not confined to art and music. The other foundation subjects of the national curriculum provide further opportunities for the development of the arts in schools. Dance and drama are just two examples. I do not join with the scoffing at dance in PE. Dance can be a pure subject within the physical education curriculum. It is physically demanding. It is very important for the co-ordination skills. It has great educational merit. Where it is taken on by young people as an option past the age of 14 years, I believe that it is as valid an education option as many other subjects.

Dance is included within physical education. It is compulsory for all pupils up to the age of 11 years and an option for pupils aged between 11 years and 16 years. Now that there is a more interesting option for physical education it might just be that more children will take advantage of it. The provisions in the order will ensure that dance has a more secure place in the curriculum than it has ever had before.

Drama is included in English and I do not scoff at that, though one or two Members of the House did. Although not a separate foundation subject, drama has an important role to play because of the numerous potential links that it offers to the rest of the curriculum—to subjects such as history and religious education.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, posed a number of specific questions. Perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness, and to others among your Lordships who commented on the place of dance and drama in the curriculum, that I hope that my brief comments will have assured them that we are committed to the place of those particular arts within the curriculum. I can also assure the noble Baroness, who was absolutely right to raise the important point of monitoring, that the Government will monitor the place of the arts within the national curriculum. The new arrangements for the regular inspection of schools will give us extensive information about arts education. The National Curriculum Council also has a general duty to keep the curriculum under review and is monitoring the implementation of each subject as it is introduced.

I am sure that the noble Baroness will be aware that the proposal for a national dance centre is a matter for another department. However, I am the last person to pass the buck to another department when an issue has been raised during a debate to which I have to reply. I understand that there is pressure for a dance house, possibly in London, and that Lady Harlech is chairman of a group that has commissioned a feasibility study into the possibility of such a centre being housed in the Lyceum Theatre. That is one of a number of options. We must be sure that, if such a centre is found, it will have the capacity and the range of facilities required and, most importantly, that funding is available. I shall register the interest of the noble Baroness with my colleagues and shall speak across the departments about it.

The Government propose to amend the national curriculum to remove the requirement for art and music to be studied by all 14 to 16 year-olds. This change is part of a package of measures which have been made mainly in response to teachers' concerns about pressures on the school timetable for this age group. Perhaps I may link this point with that raised by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, and with the concern that is felt by my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth who has not participated in the debate. It is important that space in the curriculum post-14 is made available for more vocational subjects, but it is wrong to believe that when young people study technology or craft and design art is somehow excluded. Art is very much a part of technology and is taught to great effect in many of our schools.

The Government believe that the requirement to study full courses in all 10 national curriculum subjects and religious education is too rigid and limiting for 14 to 16 year-olds. Those who pleaded for flexibility pleaded for total flexibility, which would have guaranteed absolutely nothing in the national curriculum. I think that we were right to start with the framework and to respond sensitively to the requests from teachers to introduce space in the curriculum to allow some flexibility post-14. The requirement to study those full courses restricts opportunity for the pupils concerned to pursue other courses of study outside the national curriculum framework either in other academic subjects or in vocationally relevant study. As the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, mentioned, this issue is more pressing in Wales as schools are additionally required to provide Welsh as an 11th foundation subject. The time simply would not be available.

Our intention is to ensure that the curriculum framework does not become a straitjacket, and to promote flexibility. Art and music have not been singled out for attention in that respect. The proposal is part of a series of changes that we have introduced to allow increased flexibility and choice in the 14 to 16 curriculum. Pupils will be able to choose, for example, between studying history and geography. There will also be the opportunity for 14 to 16 year-olds to take short rather than full courses in other foundation subjects.

In the arts, we want all schools to offer some form of aesthetic experience in the curriculum for 14 to 16 year-olds. I do not make light of that choice because when we are talking about art, we are clearly talking about photography and pottery among other subjects. We are talking about art in all its forms as an experience and as the basis for courses that can be followed by pupils in that age range. That might be achieved through a study of art and music or it could involve a concentration on drama or dance. We believe that all pupils should have the opportunity to continue their development in the arts. We expect the great majority of schools to offer art and music to pupils who wish to continue their study of those subjects after the age of 14. Guidance will be made available to teachers.

The noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, was concerned about guidance. I can assure him that detailed guidance will be given to schools, but he should also know that a great deal of information has already gone out to schools which are rather overawed by the amount of information that they have received. Clearly, however, where it is helpful guidance will be provided.

I have dealt with the point that was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, about subject division. It simply is not true. Art, craft and design, technology, work with textiles and other materials, dance, drama, photography, theatrical activities and the art of communication can all be covered in English, science, technology, physical education, religious education and even in the study of a modern foreign language.

I should have to question the organisational abilities of the head teacher who says that a school cannot cope with a 70-minute double period. Again, only a few days ago I was in a school that operates 90-minute periods in blocks of three. That school has cut out all the running around school when changing periods, but is managing to change teaching styles within those 90-minute periods.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, asked what had been lost from the advice of the arts and music working groups. I must advise her that absolutely nothing has been lost by reducing the attainment targets from three to two. It is a matter of organisation. All the content of the three original attainment targets is now contained within the two targets. Several noble Lords have made the important point that we are not talking about separate blocks or separate compartments. There can be—indeed, there should be—an integrated approach to the teaching of these subjects and to the achievement of the attainment targets.

I should like to write to the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke, on the points that she has raised. The noble Baroness, Lady David, was concerned about in-service training. Perhaps I may advise her that £176 million has been made available this year to support training and to provide equipment for the national curriculum. Only two subjects—maths and science— are actually named in that respect and beyond that it remains for the local authorities and the schools themselves to determine their priorities. Indeed, an additional £380 million has been made available since 1988. I have been asked how grant-maintained schools can cope. From my visits to them, and from my other knowledge of them, I know that they are coping very well.

Our plans for teacher training raise a more interesting question because, as the noble Baroness knows, a debate is currently taking place about the primary curriculum and the preparation of teachers for it. I hope that she will forgive me if I leave that question in abeyance because it is an interesting debate and I have no doubt that it is one into which she will have an input.

In answer to the point raised about teacher supply, perhaps I may say that new initial training courses have been introduced. The supply of new music teachers, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, made an important point, is improving. We are also making provision for in-service training to improve the quality of existing teachers and the scope of their knowledge and skills.

The noble Baroness also referred to multi-cultural arts. Again, the art and music orders emphasise the western European heritage but make it clear that the traditions of other cultures, especially those shared by minorities in this country, should be covered. There is no problem with time. Teachers can draw on a wide range of examples from different cultures to illustrate knowledge, skills and understanding. The noble Baroness also asked what effect the national curriculum changes would have on pupils in the post-14 age group. I believe that I have addressed that point in answer to other questions.

The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, made an important point which I have taken on board. He is right that education is not only about academic life. As several noble Lords have said, it is about the spiritual, cultural, physical and academic development of the child. That is now built into the legislation. It was included in the 1988 Act and is also part of the 1992 Act. Its provision will be covered by the inspection process. It is important that we care about the whole child.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, suggested that I might take on the position of assistant to the Secretary of State for National Heritage. Perhaps I may make a plea to the noble Lord. I am already the Minister responsible for science, technology, education and the inner cities—and all sorts of other things. I do not want another job to be added to my portfolio.

In response to the points that have been made about computer literacy, I repeat that the arts must not take second place. These subjects can live happily together. Art is a very wide subject, cutting across design and technology among others.

The Government have shown their commitment to build on the existing achievements of schools in arts education through the introduction of the national curriculum. The fact that all pupils from five to 14 will study art and music within a structured framework is in itself a giant leap forward for arts education. I welcome the document from the Arts Council Towards a National Arts and Media Strategy and particularly emphasise how we welcome its reference to education. It contains a full chapter on the importance of education within our schools.

I fully expect that many pupils will continue to take these subjects after 14. This will be particularly so after the thorough grounding in these subjects they will have received up to the age of 14. By creating room in the curriculum for this age group we have made it more likely that pupils will be able to pursue one or both of these subjects to GCSE level where they wish to do so, or simply for its own sake for the experience of doing it.

The Education Reform Act charges us to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of our young people. The arts have an important part to play in this development. That is why the Government are implementing the national curriculum and that is why we are providing an education in the arts to launch our schools and our pupils into the 21st century.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may put a question to her. She has with her usual skill and fluency answered very well along Government lines. She gave an example of pupils from 14 to 16 having to take history or geography and yet at the same time she refuses to accept that an arts subject should be mandatory up to the age of 16. The Act itself says that there will be arts courses and arts tuition all the way up the school. She has praised the Arts Council for its strategy, but is she aware that it has said that the Department of Education and Science should make an arts subject a mandatory part of the national curriculum for the 14 to 16 age group? Although the noble Baroness put her case very well it has been completely unconvincing in regard to the 14 to 16 age group.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, in view of what the noble Baroness said it is probably better that we agree to differ about this. A great deal of advice has been taken. If a young person wants to do an extra foreign language or a technical vocational subject it is just as important that there should be the flexibility to do that.

I hope that in responding to this interesting debate I have said, first, that there is a great deal going on out there of which we should be proud and which we should encourage, and, secondly, that at the end of the day it is a question of balance. The Government have come down in favour of balance to give as much flexibility to young people post-14 so that they will do some history or geography and will choose some aesthetic subject post-14.

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