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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 07/12/2020 - 18:21

On this page
  1. Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training
  2. Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields
  3. Providing quality access to creative environments

Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training

Primary and secondary education

According to the 2013 policy paper, Cultural Education, published jointly by the then Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education:

Schools have an essential role to play in introducing cultural experiences to their students as part of a broad and rich curriculum.

Furthermore, a principal aim of the national curriculum in England is to

introduce pupils to the best that has been thought and said, and [help] engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.

Art and Design, Design and Technology, Computing and Music are all compulsory subjects for pupils in Key Stages 1 (ages 5-7), 2 (ages 7-11), and 3 (ages 11-14):

  • the programme of study for Art and Design aims to ensure that pupils produce creative work; develop proficiency in art, craft and design techniques; analyse and evaluate creative works using appropriate language; and know about great artists and designers and understand the historical and cultural development of their work.
  • the programme of study for Design and Technology aims to ensure that pupils develop creative, technical and practical expertise to participate in an increasingly technological world; build and apply skills to design products for a wide range of users; evaluate, critique and test their ideas; and understand the principles of nutrition and how to cook.
  • the programme of study for Computing aims to ensure that pupils understand and apply the fundamental principles of computer science; can analyse problems in computational terms and have practical experience of writing computer programmes; can evaluate and apply information technology to solve problems; and are confident, responsible, creative and competent users of communication and information technology.
  • the programme of study for Music aims to ensure that pupils perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of genres, styles and traditions; learn to sing, to create and compare their own music, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and use technology appropriately; and understand how music is created, produced and communicated.

At Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16), pupils have a statutory entitlement to be able to study a subject in each of four ‘entitlement areas’:

  • arts (art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts)
  • design and technology
  • the humanities (geography and history)
  • modern foreign languages.

For further information about the school curriculum see the articles on teaching and learning in lower and upper secondary education in Eurydice's national education system descriptions.

Additionally, some schools use the pupil premium to promote pupils' cultural education. The pupil premium is funding allocated to maintained schools via their local authority, aimed at raising the educational attainment of pupils who are disadvantaged and with fewer opportunities.  

Further education and training 

There are numerous apprenticeships in the creative and design sector. Some of these include: 

  • digital media
  • graphic design
  • animation
  • product design
  • photography
  • fashion

Creative and Cultural Skills offers guidance for organisations wishing to hire an apprentice. Further information about apprenticeships is available in the article entitled 'Traineeships and apprenticeships' in the chapter on Employment and Entrepreneurship.

Moreover, the National College for Creative and Cultural Industries, which was established in 2016, offers courses in a range of technical support roles in theatre, concert touring, broadcast, themed attractions, education, and trade and corporate events. It aims to provide the creative industries with diverse and highly skilled professionals. Note that although the College offers courses for young people aged 16 years and above, it also welcomes adults.

Non-formal learning and youth work

Young people’s natural desire to develop their creativity and self-expression remains an important area of focus for youth work and non-formal learning (the learning that takes place outside the formal setting of school, college or work-place). However, following the budget reductions of recent years, many youth organisations no longer offer support for artistic and cultural activities as part of their general provision. Other organisations, which have developed specialist experience (in relation to performing arts or sports, for example) may continue to offer targeted provision, on behalf of a local authority, area health authority or other commissioning body. This will usually involve close collaboration with cultural and educational institutions at the local level.

The Arts Award programme supports young people up to the age of 25 to develop their creative and leadership skills through the achievement of a national qualification which is comprised of five levels. Young people participating in the programme experience arts events, participate in arts activities, take on arts-related challenges and share their skills with other young people, recording their achievements and progress. They are supported by an adviser who acts as their mentor and assessor. There are no entry requirements or time limits for completing the award and anyone working with young people can deliver it, from teachers and museum staff to arts practitioners and youth workers across the UK.


Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields


Current provision of publicly-funded specialised training courses for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields includes:

  • courses on offer from the National Society for Education in Art and Design.
  • events, training and work-based learning opportunities provided by Artswork, which receives funding from the Arts Council England; Artswork also hosts the English National Youth Arts Network, which is aimed at individuals using arts in their work with children and young people.
  • presentations, conferences and networking on offer through Arts Development UK, a professional association comprised of members working in the creative industries.
  • the Teacher Development Fund, a pilot scheme launched by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation aimed at helping primary school teachers to deliver effective learning in and through the arts.
  • the Specialist Leaders in Education (SLiCE) fellowship network, which supports leaders in Teaching School Alliances to increase access to and raise the standard of cultural education.
  • the Artsmark scheme, which is funded by  Arts Council England and was developed by the then Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and OFSTED, accredits quality arts education in England.

Providing quality access to creative environments


Notable programmes and projects aimed at widening the access of young people to creative environments include the following:

  • the Music and Dance Scheme, through which Government funding is made available for young musicians and dancers to receive specialist training.
  • the Dance and Drama Awards, through which Government funding is available for young people who show talent and are likely to succeed in their industry.
  • Music For Youth, which offers young people free performance and audience opportunities through its annual season of concerts and festivals.

Further programmes aimed at widening the access of young people to creative environments also include the following programmes, which are supported by Arts Council England:

  • Creative Writing in Schools, which develops and implements high-quality creative writing in schools.
  • the National Youth Dance Company, which is co-funded by the Department for Education and provides talented young performers with intensive training and performance opportunities taught by world-leading choreographers.
  • the National Saturday Club, which is partly funded by the Department for Education and provides young people with the opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning for free in a local college of university.
  • Summer Arts Colleges, which are designed to engage youth offenders in education, training and employment through art experiences.
  • National Youth Music Organisations, which provide progression routes for talented young musicians to develop their skills. 

Note also that Arts Council England funds a network of Bridge Organisations alongside the Department for Education. These connect the education and cultural sectors and enhance young people's access to arts and cultural opportunities in areas where it is most needed. See the article 'Synergies and Partnerships' for more information.

A comprehensive list of organisations and programmes currently funded by Arts Council England (known as 'National Portfolio Organisations') can be found here. A significant number of them target young people specifically.