Arts and Culture — Question for Short Debate
Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury (Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, speed-talking. Congratulations on the debate. Declare an interest: Lowry . I will concentrate on skills.
We on the Liberal Democrat Benches have campaigned long and hard on behalf of the creative industries, so I was particularly pleased about the introduction of tax cuts for video games, animation and high-level television production sectors, but obviously those need people who are skilled. The Next Gen. report drew attention to the fact that the way that ICT is being taught in schools is too narrow. So Michael Gove's announcement in January that the current programme of study for ICT will be withdrawn in September, and that e-skills UK is creating a brand new GCSE which has computer science at its core, is excellent news. IT is a very male world-only 17% of the workforce is female-so the fact that e-skills UK has recently relaunched Computer Clubs for Girls is a very good thing too.
However central the understanding of technology has become to the creative industries, these industries are still underpinned by creativity itself, and Darren Henley's review of cultural education is another crucial element in tackling the skills deficit. It debunks the pernicious idea that children are wasting their time by studying cultural subjects. I am glad to say that the Henley review has been greeted with enthusiasm by the Secretary of State for Education. In response, the coalition Government have committed to immediately addressing 10 of its recommendations, including setting up a cross-departmental board; a new national youth dance company; national art and design Saturday clubs and working with teaching schools to improve the quality of teacher training in this area-which is very important. What is very disappointing, however, is that the inclusion of culture as a mandatory, sixth strand of the English baccalaureate and design as a STEM subject is not on this list.
I chaired a Westminster Education Forum recently and spoke to a headmaster who said, "I have head teachers who are cutting subjects from their key stage 4 curriculum in order to feed into the EBacc. So now the school is saying that geography is in the EBacc, drama is not. We really recommend that you do geography".
As a result of another report by Darren Henley, we have the excellent national plan for music education, and I would encourage the Secretary of State to achieve the same in cultural education by embracing the whole report.
Before the noble Baroness interrupts me, I would like to say that I think it is appalling that I have only three minutes to talk on culture when we spend so much time on House of Lords reform.