The joint review, commissioned by the Welsh Government is the first to look in depth at the inter-relationship between the arts and education sectors in Wales.
From November 2012 to March 2013, 471 children and young people were consulted as part of the review. This involved children and young people from the ages of 5 to 19 drawn from 42 schools, colleges and organisations. And, in order to build a more accurate and comprehensive picture, the Arts in Education Review team undertook an in-depth consultation exercise across the nation involving face to face engagement with arts and education practitioners, and with learners. The findings provide a unique insight into the topic of arts and creativity in education from the perspective of those directly affected – young people themselves.
It is significant that 99% of schools responding to the consultation felt that involvement in the arts improved learner engagement. Similarly, 98 % and 99 % of schools felt the arts developed emotional well-being and interpersonal skills respectively, while all artists felt the arts developed these skills to some degree.
Everyone consulted – including young people, teachers and arts practitioners – felt that artists and arts organisations coming into schools is hugely important for stimulating young people’s interest, and in reinforcing day-to-day delivery of arts subjects. They also felt that young people gain tremendous benefits and inspiration from visits to theatres, galleries and exhibitions.
"The arts are everywhere making up a big part of our lives. If there were no arts we would all still be cavemen". One 9 year old.
Evidence also shows for the learning years from 5 to 16, students should be presented throughout their school years with a plethora of arts experiences, whether delighting or provoking or challenging, across the gamut of field trips to events, galleries, performances and critical appreciation talks including arts residencies in schools, in order to make every school in Wales an arts-rich school in either achievement or ambition.
Across Wales, in all our schools, we should fully engage all students with the creativity embedded in the arts in order to offer them learning which is relevant to their Welsh future in a future-facing world.
"Doing art helped me through rough patches at school. If there were no arts in school I would be very upset. It helps with identity and gives something different from lessons – gives the opportunity to be who you are." Student (18)
Furthermore, the report highlights creativity as a core skill that all pupils in Wales should be supported to develop. It advocates fostering creativity in young people as a way to build a skilled, innovative and creative workforce. It suggests that the arts could play a vital role in this through embedding creative learning into qualifications and the education curriculum – and equipping young people with the range of skills and competencies necessary to find a place within any industry.
Dai Smith, Chair, Arts Council of Wales said:
"Teaching in and through the arts, far from detracting from literacy and numeracy, should be seen as an enabler to driving up standards in those academic priorities. The value of the arts therefore needs to be reiterated with schools and, importantly, schools need to be supported in taking up and delivering more imaginative approaches to cross-curricular creative activity.
"I believe that this report provides a clear picture of the advantages of such learning. We have teachers and artists who are ambitious to catapult Wales to the forefront of what threatens (or promises) to be a revolutionary transformation of educational systems in some of the more far-seeing countries of the world. Above all it is our children and young people who make this claim for Wales, one that we should honour with their Cymru Fydd in our mind. For their future, we cannot afford to be left behind."
John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport, commented:
"The review has shown that a lot of excellent work is taking place between schools, artists and arts organisations. We know that arts subjects can make unique, distinct contributions to each young person’s ability to imagine, create and communicate so that they become confident
and creative individuals. This report will help us to raise the profile of the arts in education and push forward an agenda of universal access and participation."
Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills added:
"I welcome Professor Smith's report. It highlights the role of a creative arts-rich approach in engaging learners and developing creative skills through the arts, and how this could lead to benefits across all subject areas. We will now take time to consider the report in detail alongside our wider review of the curriculum as a whole, and will also look at how we can enhance joint working between our arts and education sectors in Wales."
Dai Smith concluded:
"Arts in Education is the best instrument we possess for a small nation's confident future to be played out on a global stage. Only if we step forward, can we take a bow. Art is not about ensuring other ways or means of living, it is life itself. It is the gift of a national past to its future society. Nothing is more vital to the sense of Wales itself."
The full report is available to downloaded here.
For further information please contact Siân James on 029 2044 1344 or email email@example.com