Manchester becomes home to a formal partnership to boost educational outcomes for thousands of school children and young people by harnessing the creative talents of inspirational artists, actors, writers and other culture professionals.

With a mission to instil a love of exploration and acquisition of knowledge, Manchester Cultural Education Partnership launches on Monday 9 March 2020 to unite teachers, pupils and leading cultural organisations to ‘add magic’ to lessons in everything from science to history, as well as increasing creative opportunities out of school.

Commitments from partners including Manchester City Council, Young Manchester, The Whitworth, Z-arts and schools such as Abraham Moss Community School in Crumpsall, Chorlton High School and Lancasterian School in West Didsbury, have been made after a series of successful pilot projects in the city.

The new Partnership formalises the ambitions of the schools, youth and play and arts sectors to embed creativity in their curriculums after children and teachers reported it had improved happiness, problem-solving, motivation and confidence following artist-led learning. In a statement of intent, the Partnership’s launch week will see a further thirteen projects take place, including Claremont Primary School’s science lesson being taught at The Whitworth art gallery by staff, artists and scientists from The University of Manchester, including use of the gallery’s current wallpaper exhibition. Students from St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School in Hulme will explore medieval history through the medium of dance in the company of performers from Z-arts.

Other school groups will explore curriculum themes outside the classroom with Manchester Museum, music and education charity, Brighter Sound, Castlefield Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council explains the Partnership:

“Looking to the future, it’s accepted that creativity will help our children to access jobs and excel in the workplace, but while they are still young, encounters with creatives and new ways of thinking can accelerate their understanding of academic themes, link subjects together and enhance essential wellbeing. Manchester Cultural Education Partnership is the first time that Manchester, a city that’s home to so many internationally-renowned cultural organisations and events, has formalised a city-wide commitment to working in this way.

“The Partnership is informed by teachers, front-line professionals who see how creativity makes a difference in a climate of narrowing, purely academic subject matter and focus on rigorous testing. They see the need for a shared strategy, led by Manchester as a city of relentless innovation, that will ensure that developing children’s cultural capital is embedded in the schools system. Our cultural partners are recognised leaders in their fields, both in work that attracts international audiences and enhances our local communities, putting the Partnership in a remarkable starting position.”

Alistair Hudson, Director of Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth, partners in the Manchester Cultural Education Partnership, says:

“The Manchester Cultural Education Partnership offers us a chance to totally rethink the way we embrace culture as a city and as a society. This is not just about how more young people in education participate in the arts, but about how the arts participate in the education of all young people. After all, the choice is not whether young people have culture or not, but what kind of culture they want for the future. The Partnership is a chance for us to shape that together.”

In 2019, OFSTED announced that the inspection framework for UK schools would include the development of ‘cultural capital’ and since setting the Cultural Education Challenge in 2015, Arts Council England and the Department of Education have called for the art, culture and education sectors to work together in offering a consistent and high-quality art and cultural education for all children and young people. Published in January 2020, the Arts Council’s new 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, pledged to focus once more on ensuring that children and young people are able to ‘fulfil their creative potential and access the highest quality experiences where they live, where they go to school and where they spend their free time.’


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