Children’s Arts News

ACA Member discount for the 2021 Children’s Media Conference

ACA Member discount for the 2021 Children’s Media Conference

ACA Member discount for the 2021 Children's Media Conference

Registration for CMC 2021 Online opens Friday 9th April! The CMC Early Bird rate of £115+VAT will be on sale until 10th May and is available for everyone to buy.

CMC 2021 Online will take place 5-9 July 2021 and, as last year, will be a virtual event. The conference will feature your favourite mix of tightly curated webinars, VOD strands, SkillBuilder Workshop and amazing keynotes during the conference week.

With its theme of ‘Together’, CMC 2021 Online will provide a midsummer focus for the kids’ and youth media professions from around the world.

Once the CMC Early Bird period is over, ACA members will still be able to take advantage of the discounted rate of £115+VAT right up until the start of the conference – a saving of £35+VAT on the full rate of £150+VAT. After 10th May please contact Mimi Doulton to get your discount code which you’ll need in order to register for the special offer.

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

A new manifesto for ASSITEJ

We are delighted to share with you the ASSITEJ International Manifesto, based on ACA’s Children’s Arts Manifesto. This manifesto will raise awareness of children’s needs and rights to their own arts and culture, as is set out in UN Article 31. This is part of a global initiative to raise awareness of the importance of the arts in the lives of children and to draw attention to the fact that in so many countries, arts for children are not on any political agenda.
Whilst they are on the UK's agenda, they are relatively low priority, and often drowned out by the clamour for adult arts. We need to raise the profile of children's arts and back the Manifesto, calling for a universal investment in children’s participation in cultural activity.
- Vicky Ireland MBE, Chair of Action for Children's Arts

Should we reinstate poetry as a compulsory element at GCSE?

Should we reinstate poetry as a compulsory element at GCSE?

Should we reinstate poetry as a compulsory element at GCSE?

James Carter looks at his own experiences and the primary school approach to poetry for answers.

As a children’s poet, workshopper, writer-in-schools as well as an ambassador for National Poetry Day, I’m concerned with how Primary-aged children engage with poetry. For me, 3-11s should be having fun with poetic language as a form of quasi-play, taking ownership of language, being creative with words, and increasingly as they age and move through Primary school, using poetry as a highly resourceful and innovative medium to explore their own thoughts, experiences, emotions and the many facets of the Primary curriculum.

Nowadays, many Primary teachers frequently teach through topics, and will often use a range of poetic forms when they are teaching. They may do volcano shape poems, water cycle haikus, space cinquains, castle raps, or Victorian or Ancient Egyptian kennings. Children as well as teachers read and perform poems in weekly assemblies and in poetry galas. Increasingly, teachers are starting each school day with a poem and have found this to be very popular with their classes. Twenty years ago, as I first visited Primaries as a writer, teachers often told me that poetry was ‘scary’. In the last two decades, there’s been a massive sea change in Primary schools, and nowadays teachers inform me how it has radically revitalised their pedagogy and crucially, inspired and motivated the most reluctant readers and writers, often and especially boys. Can I repeat that discovery please? Poetry inspires reluctant readers and writers.

For a number of reasons, Secondary is a wholly different environment. English teachers teach English, which clearly includes at various stages in the curriculum, poetry. Yet how many Science teachers get their classes to write tankas about atoms? History teachers ask Yr 8 to write a free verse monologue about the Tudors? Music teachers ask Yr 9 pupils to set a Simon Armitage or Benjamin Zephaniah poem to music, with melody, harmonies and beats? I don’t know for sure, but having seen my daughters go through the Secondary system, and having also worked in a Secondary school as a tutor-teacher, and therefore witnessed a great many lessons across the curriculum, I’d guess very few. In the past, my daughters have often shown me their history or geography homework - ‘Make a poster informing people of…’. Hey, why not a poem instead? Or make a poster with a poem? But if I’m wrong here, please, please let me know, teachers! And actually, mathematicians and scientists and musicians can and do make great poets! Structures. Systems. Patterns. All present and prevalent in verse as well as maths/science/music and indeed other curricular areas. However, there is one poetic overspill at Secondary, for Drama teachers are known to use poems as stimuli for workshops and performances.

In the last 18 years, I’ve had many adults - (including Primary teachers) - inform me that poetry is difficult for them personally. Esoteric. Inaccessible. Boring. Not relevant to them. And a great many have told me that they have been put off poetry by the GCSE anthology - not by the teachers or the teaching of - but the process of having to analyse/deconstruct poetry in terms of form and content - linguistic devices / subtext/ meanings /interpretations etc. As a Primary poet I then logically ask if they enjoyed poetry whilst at Primary school, to which most have responded most positively, having loved writing poems, learning and also performing poems up to Yr 6.

Okay. So there’s the rub. The Primary cross-curricular approach (in an environment where individual teachers are responsible for delivering the whole curriculum) allows for an active, interactive and dynamic approach with pre-pubescent children aged 4-11. By the time adolescence kicks in, there’s a shift in the State system from KS2 to KS3, from Primary to Secondary. There it seems is a wholly different approach. No cross-curricular elements (except Drama as stated above), for starters, as subjects are compartmentalised. And arguably there will be an increasingly analytical approach to Literature, be it verse or prose fiction/non-fiction. It certainly will be 100% analytical by KS4, ie GCSE.

As a child I feared and detested poetry as we never enjoyed it or discussed or wrote it - our teachers made us learn it as homework so that we could repeat it parrot-fashion the following day, and then swiftly move on to something else. How meaningless is that? Moreover, how is that fostering a love of verse? I found the whole experience demoralising if not excruciating as I had a childhood stutter and so would struggle syllable by syllable to regurgitate the couplets in front of the rest of the class.

As a teenager I would never have admitted to liking poetry. I was only aware of liking one poem. ‘Horace’ by Terry Jones of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was absurd and irreverent: ‘Much to his mum and dad’s dismay / Horace ate himself one day. / He didn’t stop to say his Grace/ he just sat down and ate his face.’ What's not to like? I had a copy of it on my wall in my adolescent prison cell, aka boarding school study. For my English Literature O level I learnt 50 quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and 50 from Chaucer’s The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. We all did, or were meant to. Every single rhyming poem I have written since 1996, when I began writing poems for children, has been informed by the rhythms and the metrical patterns from those works of Chaucer and Shakespeare. I walk to them sometimes. They pulsate in my mind’s ear. Now I’m 60, and it’s 45 years on, and I still know a handful of those lines, and furthermore I now write poems for infants about ladybirds and woolly mammoths to the pulses of those poets. Moreover, I love deconstruction, all thanks to Quentin Edwards, my O level/A level teacher at the aforementioned institution. He wouldn’t tell us what Larkin meant in Whitsun Weddings, he’d ask us. And then he’d counter with his viewpoint(s), and everything was up for debate. Surprisingly forward pedagogy for the backwater that was a 70s independent school. I later did two English-related degrees B.Ed (English) and an MA in Children’s Literature - and I relished every moment I got to lift up the bonnet of a poem, tinker about and then write at length about what the poem was saying and how it was saying it. I had a number of truly inspirational lecturers there at the University of Reading, and they keenly promoted children’s poetry and its manifold uses and benefits in the Primary classroom.

As a big fan of literary deconstruction, I’m aware that I’m probably in the minority. Most people seem to dislike it. Find it pointless. And on a related subject, a fair few adults also dislike Shakespeare, either because they claim they were forced to study it at school, or that they found the language off-putting. To be honest, though I feel the opposite, I fully appreciate why they find Shakespeare inaccessible to them. Two to three hour long plays in which nearly every line of dialogue requires unpacking? Great fun - for those that enjoy that kind of sport!

On a matter of taste, I read mainly American verse nowadays. Though beautifully simple and accessible, it is exquisitely crafted and welcoming of a reader. (At times, UK modern verse can be a tad esoteric/writer-centred for me.) US verse is often autobiographical or contains musings or reflections on the minutiae of life. If you haven’t read Mary Oliver or Billy Collins, try them for starters. Or even Garrison Keillor’s excellent anthology Good Poems. There’s much to enjoy. So I can appreciate why some British adults may feel that our contemporary poetry is not for them - beyond the experience of deconstructing at GCSE.

However, the GCSE anthology is always full of a fine range of great verse - modern and classic - and from a range of cultures. A number of fine British poets - including former Laureate Carol Ann Duffy as well as poets such as John Agard and Grace Nichols - have even toured UK theatres across the UK to perform to students in support of their work in the anthology and with great success.

Even though I promote poetry to children up to the age of 11, I clearly don’t want a disconnect towards poetry to appear in teenagers onwards and for such negative attitudes to then manifest and continue through to adulthood. I’ve even overheard a number of parents at Primary school book fairs discouraging their young children from buying poetry books in preference for ‘proper books’, which I would take to be novels. And why is prose fiction considered superior to verse? Go into any bookshop and the first books you will find will be prose fiction. Next you will encounter non-fiction. The children’s section will be in the corner. But poetry? Back of the store, foot-level, near the exit/the loo! There’s the hierarchy, right there.

On one hand I’d personally like to see a compulsory GCSE poetry anthology reinstated, but equally I’d like to hope that it is balanced with creative poetry writing as well as performing taking place throughout the Secondary years, so that 11-18 yr olds realise that poetry post-Primary is not predominantly synonymous with deconstructive microscopes enquiring ‘can you spot the bathos in the final stanza, Yr 10?’ ‘Find me the consonance in the second verse and explain how it adds texture and extra musicality to what the poet..’ For me, this is good stuff, but adolescents surely need a much wider experience of verse.

Poetry gives us licence to open up. To explore. To look within - and without - and to make meaning, to reflect, to give thought to. Prose doesn’t encourage this so readily. The process of writing poetry invites the poet to dig around a bit. To make sense of and reimagine the world. Teenagers need what poetry offers: a cathartic, intellectual and aesthetic experience, and moreover, they need to it for reasons of wellbeing.

To counterbalance the academic approach to verse, I hope that Secondary schools are finding time and resources within the academic year to encourage some creative extra-curricular approaches, say some spoken word/slam events to take place - where poetry meets spoken word, or even hip hop and rap. I hope that some schools are able to offer poetry as well as creative writing classes after hours, or during lunchtimes - and that adult poets and writers are invited in to read or perform and discuss their work and run workshops.

I used to have a rather arrogant, superior take on creative writing in Secondary schools, believing that 10-11 yr olds in Primary Yrs 5 and 6 were actually far more innovative in their writing than say their 13-14 yr old counterparts in Secondary. I had a Head of English visit one of my Yr 5 workshops in a Primary school outside Leicester. She was floored by what the 9 and 10 yr olds were writing. ‘Wow’ she said, ‘this is most impressive. I wouldn’t get anything like this standard of writing out of my Yr 8s.’ Whilst that was great to hear, I clearly don’t want this to be the case. Kate Clanchy MBE (poet, educationalist, and poet-in-residence at Oxford Spires Academy) has shown us repeatedly over the last decade that teenagers from Yrs 7-13 (ie 11-18 yr olds) are capable of writing truly excellent and highly imaginative verse. Creativity doesn’t disappear in adolescence, but it certainly seems to go underground at times. Kate has totally altered my opinion with the poems by those gifted teenagers that she puts up on Twitter on a daily basis. Go on - pop to Twitter and witness the brilliance of the poems by these young writers, many of whom were not born in the UK and have English as a second or third language.

Some poets will not allow for their poetry to be used in anthologies or for examinations. Whilst it’s a compliment that an examination board considers their work to be worthy of intellectual literary analysis, it is clearly not what the poetry was written for. For no verse or fiction or non-fiction or theatre is created to be deconstructed or dissected, it’s how academia evolved in the 20th century to the point that we longer question it.

Why analyse poetry? Because of its brevity. Because it is short and concise and tends to fit on a single page. (Perfect for an anthology, academic or otherwise.) Poems can say a great deal with as few words as possible, or achieve what novelist Russell Hoban would refer to as ‘much-in-little’. Poetry is often a conscious playing with form, with language, and a philosophical reassessment of a subject. And as poet Robert Frost said (sic) ‘Poetry is a fresh look and a fresh listen.’ As poets, we weave together two disparate but wholly interconnected elements - the form and the content, the music of the language and the meaning of the words.

For me, poetry is the good stuff. Though I know even with the finest teachers, not everyone is going to turn out to be a verse-spouting, Dylan Thomas or Carol Ann Duffy promoting poetry fan. It’s not to everyone’s taste. But there’s so much great verse and of great variety, and as all us poets know, there’ll be something out there that everyone can enjoy. What’s more, as a workshopper I wholly believe that everyone - child, teen or adult - is capable of writing at least a handful of some cracking good poems - it just takes the right stimulus, the right encouragement, the right nurturing, the right time and context. A GCSE poetry anthology isn’t going to create that necessarily, as its initial function is to generate creative analysis rather than actual creative writing. But surely that anthology has become an essential rite of passage, one that will open up for all 15-16 yr olds the tool box that us poets possess - the tricks of our trade, the knowledge of how we blend words to present new ways to re-examine the world. Moreover, teenagers have much to express, though do we give them enough creative opportunities and outlets to do so? And crucially, time spent writing poetry very much informs and indeed develops and hones our prose writing skills, and makes all of us - of any age - concise, coherent and expressive communicators.

This may seem quite obvious, but to write poetry you need to read poetry. A good writer is a good reader. It wasn’t until I began writing poetry, that I began really reading it, realising there were so many forms and modes and voices, and that the more I read, as a result, the more my own writing developed. We can’t have generations of teenagers finishing poetry at age 14/15. They need to take this to 16. If we are to nurture future poets, rappers and spoken word artists (as well as fiction/non-fiction writers, playwrights and journalists), they need to have had as much experience of poetry as possible and to appreciate all the many things it can be and do.

Moreover, all A level English Literature and Language students need to have had the experience of doing a poetry anthology at GCSE. For it’s vital - absolutely essential to their maturation and development as students of English. Personally I would like to see poetry reinstated as a compulsory, non-optional element at GCSE and Secondary schools, but in conjunction with what Primary schools have been doing for a while now - a holistic and balanced approach to poetry that involves enjoying, reading, discussing, creating, writing, sharing and performing poetry - in and out of the classroom and across the whole curriculum.

James Carter, August 2020

Response to latest curriculum guidance

Response to latest curriculum guidance

Response to latest curriculum guidance

We were pleased to read that the government has retracted plans to encourage removing non-core subjects from the curriculum for the majority of children in September. Instead, they are now encouraging a broad curriculum that embraces sciences, humanities, the arts, physical education/sport, religious education and relationships and health education.
However, guidance is still in place that for students in exceptional circumstances, these subjects could be suspended until summer 2021 – on agreement with parents. Action for Children’s Arts (ACA) would like to emphasise that even for children who are perceived to be behind in their academic attainment, creative outlets will be key to their mental and emotional recovery from this crisis. Whilst we understand that schools are under pressure to meet the government’s academic attainment targets, we urge them to prioritise children’s well-being.
ACA Chair Vicky Ireland said,
‘I personally feel there should be more awareness, that it’s not back to business as usual. Covid-19 has been damaging and we need to heal. We need to acknowledge there is a special and urgent need to prioritise children, their well-being and mental health. What measures are being put in place to listen, help and heal?’
In addition to this, we are concerned by the continued advice against group singing and music-making, before sufficient evidence has been produced around its dangers. Choral singing has been proven to enhance children’s brain development, widen their cultural horizons, and give them a sense of belonging. After this prolonged period of isolation, we believe that fostering this sense of belonging must be maintained as a crucial part of every child’s education.
Finally, we still await guidance on working in schools for visiting creative practitioners. We hope that the government will produce this before the end of the summer term, so that the many freelancers and small companies who depend on this work can start planning for a return to business in the autumn.

ACA response: tests for four-year-olds in English and Maths

ACA response: tests for four-year-olds in English and Maths

ACA response: tests for four-year-olds in English and Maths

Action for Children's Arts (ACA) notes with concern the statement from Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary on Monday 22nd June that the much-criticised and unproven tests in English and Maths for four year olds are still to go ahead. At a time when all sectors of society - and across the political spectrum - have acknowledged the great threat to mental health and wellbeing caused by Covid-19 isolation, it is vital that our priority as a nation should be meeting the need for stability, sociability and communication. These are key factors that must be in place before young children can learn, and they should be our priorities now. Working together, socialising, creating in small and larger groups; all are vital steps back from the situation in which we now find ourselves. We call for the immediate abandonment of these tests and an urgent re-ordering of priorities to help all our children, especially the youngest, to create, communicate and learn.
Whilst we acknowledge there is now a gap in the English education timescale for Nursery and Primary-school children, we urge that the “knowledge deficit” does not lead to undue pressure upon the children, or the removal of arts and creativity in their school lives in order to “catch-up”. Cramming does not work with this age-range. They will catch up far more quickly if they have the arts and creativity in their lives to provide an escape from mental and emotional strain.
We must be extra careful of our children’s mental and physical well-being. They have never needed the time to create, imagine and play within the school environment more. 
Vicky Ireland MBE FRSA
Action for Children’s Arts

Covid19 – emergency funding for freelancers and small organisations

Covid19 – emergency funding for freelancers and small organisations

Covid19 - emergency funding for freelancers and small organisations

Funding available

This page will be updated as we become aware of further funding opportunities. Last updated on 11 May.


Arts Council England – grants for NPOs and CPPs who are in financial need. Open for applications from 12-19 May

Charities Aid Foundation – grants of up to £10,000 for charities whose income was under £1million in the last financial year (applications pause at 5pm on 6 April and will re-open soon)

Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland - supporting local charities whose work and income has been affected

Directors Charitable Fund - grants of around £500 for Directors in acute need

Equity Charitable Trust open to anyone who has previously worked on an Equity contract

Facebook Small Business Grants – now open for applications

Liverpool Coronavirus Support - a range of financial programmes to support local business through Covid19

London Community Response – Wave Two Funding now available to arts and culture organisations

Pay it Forward – set up by the Creative Industries Federation to help people crowdfund

The Royal Opera House Benevolent fund – for past and current employees of the Royal Opera House and Birmingham Royal Ballet, or of any other charity or organisation which gives public performances of opera, ballet or music

The Schroder Charity Trust - support for charities impacted by Covid19

The Steve Morgan Foundation - grants for charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales helping the most vulnerable

The Yapp Charitable Trust - small charities with an annual expenditure of less than £40,000 can apply for up to £3,000 core funding

Royal Variety Charity – supporting people in financial need who work in entertainment


Artists General Benevolent Institute – fund for fine artists


Film and TV:

all applications now closed


National Lottery Heritage Fund – grants of between £3,000 - £50,000


The Book Trade Charity - support for people who work/have worked in a bookshop

Royal Literary Fund - financial support for published authors

Society of Authors – grants of up to £2,000 for writers, illustrators, literary translators, scriptwriters, poets, journalists and others


Musicians Union – grants of up to £200 for MU members

PRS – grants of up to £1000 for PRS members, open until 15 May

Youth Music - emergency grants for music organisations, deadlines every Friday until 15 May


BenSoc - support for professional photographers


Actors’ Benevolent Fund – grants for those who have contracted Covid19 and have applied for Universal Credit (or are already in receipt of benefits)

Actors’ Children’s Trust – ACT gives money to actor parents and their children, they have paid £200 to each family who has requested support for food and bills in April.

Funds for Freelancers – for actors, creatives and ushers working in theatre. If you’re in need of financial support then all you need to do is email: with a few sentences about your situation.

Make a Difference Trust – grants of up to £200, priority will be given to those who have helped raise money for the Trust in the past

Royal Theatrical Fund – for people who have worked in their profession (theatrical arts on stage, radio, films or television or any other medium by which such arts may be presented) for a minimum of seven years

Theatrical Guild – for those working in theatre who are not on the stage

Until the Curtains Rise – fundraising for grants which will be administered by Acting for Others

Northern Ireland:

Community Fund – children and young people’s projects, which connect people through creative mediums


Crisis Fund - if you are on a low income and have lost work or money due to Covid19

Emergency Arts Workers Support Fund - grants of up to £250, open for a second phase from 6 - 15 May

Third Sector Resilience Fund – grants and loans for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland.


Arts Council of Wales – Urgent Fund for Individuals (opens 14 April), Stabilisation Fund for Organisations (opens 21 April), Stabilisation Fund for Individuals (opens 29 May)

Home-schooling during Covid19 week one – creative activities

Home-schooling during Covid19 week one – creative activities

Home-schooling during Covid19 week one - creative activities

To support parents home-schooling their children during Covid-19, we will be sharing daily resources to help continue your children's creative education. Here is a list of our resources for week one:

Art - take the kids sketching at the Louvre's Egypt collection:

Music - introduce them to the opera! We recommend starting with one of Rossini's comedies  La Cenerentola  (Cinderella) or  Il Barbiere di Sevigliaóperas

Museums and Galleries - follow the hashtag #MuseumFromHome for lots of fun facts from museum curators, or do a virtual museum tour of the British Museum via Streetview:,-0.1260849,2a,75y,53.35h,90.1t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shtObAXybDUe7n9XEKHUiFQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

Dance - Check out Dance Syndrome’s free online dance classes. Suitable for mixed abilities and mixed age groups:

Here are a few more ideas shared by our members...

Theatre - why not download the Theatr Na Nog app for free learning resources in English and Welsh?

Literature - Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell is reading a chapter of How to Train your Dragon on YouTube every day! Perfect for a wet lunchtime:

General Election 2019: Manifesto round-up

General Election 2019: Manifesto round-up

General Election 2019: Manifesto round-up

We have done a round-up of  policies on children, education and the arts. Please note that this article has been quoted verbatim from each manifesto, and parties have been ordered according to the number of seats they currently hold in the House of Commons.

The Arts:

  • A £250 million cultural capital programme to support local libraries and regional museums.
  • A Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022.
  • Business rates relief for music venues and cinemas.
  • Maintain support for creative sector and tax relief and free entry to the UK's national museums.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • An 'Arts Premium' for Secondary Schools.
  • An extra £14 billion in funding for schools - that translates to at least £4,000 for each primary school pupil.
  • Raising teacher starting salaries to £30,000.
  • Expand 'alternative provision' schools for children who have been excluded.
  • More school places for children with complex Special Educational Needs.


  • Invest £500 million in new youth clubs and services.
  • Cement the Opportunity Areas Programme.
  • Review the care system to make sure that children and young adults are being provided with the support they need.
  • A £1 billion fund to help create more high-quality, affordable childcare.
  • Maintain the commitment to free school-meals.


The Arts:

  • £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to transform libraries, museums and galleries across the country.
  • Make the distribution of National Lottery Funding more transparent.
  • Maintain free entry to museums.
  • Launch a Town of Culture competition.
  • Work with trade unions and employers to make creative jobs accessible to all, ensuring diversity in these industries.
  • Ensure libraries are preserved and updated for future generations.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • An Arts Pupil Premium to fund arts education for every primary school child.
  • A £160 million annual boost for schools to ensure creative and arts education is embedded in secondary education.
  • Radically reform early-years education to make high quality early-years education available to every child.
  • Within 5 years, all 2-4 year olds will be entitled to 30 hours free education per week.
  • Maximum class-sizes of 30 for all primary school children.
  • Fund more non-contact time for teachers to prepare and plan.
  • Scrap KS1 and KS2 SATS and baseline assessments, refocussing assessments on supporting pupil progress.
  • Receive advise on integrating private schools into a comprehensive education system.


  • An £845 million plan for Healthy Young Minds - more than doubling the amount spent on children and adolescent mental health services.
  • Introduce a Future Generations Wellbeing Act.
  • Develop a cross-governmental National Strategy for Childhood, focusing on health, security, well-being and poverty.
  • Stop 300,000 children from being in poverty by scrapping the benefit cap and the two-child limit.


The Arts:

  • If Brexit happens, campaign for streamlined visa schemes for artists and performers.
  • Continue supporting tax incentives for Creative Industries.
  • Work towards more equality, inclusion and diversity across the Creative Sector.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • £750 million Scottish Attainment Fund to close the attainment gap in schools.
  • Expand early-learning and childcare provision from 600 hours per year to 1,140 hours.


  • Expand childcare into the school holidays.
  • Campaigning against the 'Rape Clause'.
  • Introduce a new £10 a week Scottish Child Payment for low-income households by the end of next year.


The Arts:

  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries.
  • Protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery.
  • Examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues and the grassroots music sector, protecting venues from further closures.
  • Support growth in the Creative Industries and create Creative Enterprise Zones.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • Protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum and act to remove barriers to pupils studying these subjects.
  • Teach the key skills required for children to flourish in the modern world: critical thinking, verbal reasoning and creativity.
  • Reverse cuts to school funding and employ an extra 20,000 teachers.
  • Scrap SATS and replace league tables with a broader set of indicators.
  • Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1000.
  • Require Early-Years staff to complete a training qualification.


  • Free, high-quality childcare for every child aged 2 to 4 years, and children between 9 and 24 months where their parents or guardians are in work: 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year.
  • Invest £1 billion a year in Children's Centres.
  • Extend free school-meals to all children in primary education, and children in secondary education whose families are on Universal Credit.


Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • £16.5 million has already been spent on local schools.


  • 30 hours for 28 weeks of childcare provision for 3-4 year-olds.


Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • Financial literacy and oracy to be included in the national curriculum.
  • School health workers introduced in primary and secondary schools.
  • 20-week retraining sabbatical for those in need of a mid-career skills boost.


The Arts:

  • Demand a devolution of broadcasting.
  • Maintain free entry to museums and develop a National Digital Library for Wales.
  • Create a new National Gallery for Contemporary Art.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • £300 million extra for schools and colleges.
  • Ensure teachers can make the needs of children and young people central to what they do.
  • Develop a new curriculum, and allow sufficient time and resources for teachers to prepare to teach it.


  • Universal free childcare 40 hours a week and a new £35/week payment for every child in a low-income family.


The Arts:

  • Increase central government funding to councils by £10 billion a year. They can use this funding to nurture arts and culture in their areas, keeping local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open and thriving.
  • Reforming copyright and intellectual property rights legislation to ensure a better balance between the rights of consumers and the rights of those working in the creative economy.

Education (for children aged 12 and under):

  • Learning must be lifelong, liberating and accessible to all. Education can and should unlock creativity and enable self-expression across all ages.
  • Restore arts and music education in all state schools.
  • Increase funding by at least £4 billion per year.
  • Long-term aim to reduce class sizes to under 20.
  • Free schools from centrally imposed testing regimes, OFSTED inspections, rigid national curriculum and league tables.
  • Formal education will start at 6 years-old. Those under 6 will remain in early-years education with a focus on play-based learning.
  • Remove charitable status from private schools and charge full VAT on fees.


  • Ensure that all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood: a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play, as well as opportunities to learn and develop inside and outside of school.
  • Prohibit the use of pesticides in the locality of homes, schools and children’s playgrounds.
  • Phase in a Universal Basic Income with supplements for families with children.


An Unequal Playing Field – ACA welcomes report commissioned by UK government

An Unequal Playing Field – ACA welcomes report commissioned by UK government

An Unequal Playing Field – ACA welcomes report commissioned by UK government

ACA notes that the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission has joined the chorus of voices raising concerns about children’s access to the arts – in this case especially outside school. The report ( notes the huge disparities in children’s participation rates in many different areas.


ACA is particularly concerned by the findings of this government report that involvement in the arts, music and dance varies greatly depending upon where children live and their social background, with wealthier families much more likely to be involved in these activities. Most worryingly of all, children from the poorest families are 3 times less likely to be involved in extra-curricular arts activities, found the report’s authors, who were researchers from the University of Bath.

ACA supports the report’s recommendations to the government which include a bursary scheme for disadvantaged families, funding for voluntary sector initiatives, increasing the extra-curricular capacity of schools and the need for further research in this important area. ACA is in a position to assist with the second of these recommendations, and to show the way forward for the involvement of the voluntary sector through the development of its Arts Backpack UK.

In ACA, we believe in each child as an holistic being, with emotional, physical, psychological, aesthetic and intellectual needs and dimensions.

We believe that education should facilitate the realisation of the full potential of each child.

It should not be decided by the financial circumstances of their carers.

Vicky Ireland MBE - Chair, Action for Children's Arts


This report contains shocking data about the extent to which access to the arts is related to wealth in the UK. Wealthy children are 3 times as likely to have music lessons, with the difference being even more marked in the south-east of England compared to the north-east. The researchers found that proportionately more girls than boys were involved in music, art and dance – perhaps because of the gendered way in which these activities were offered. It is important to know more about these growing divides and the effect they are having, so we also support the recommendation that more research is needed, especially into ways of meeting this pressing need.

Dr Chris Abbott

Dr Chris Abbott, FRSA
Reader Emeritus in Assistive Technologies, King's College London
Critical Friend, ACA

The World Day of Theatre for young audiences 2019

The World Day of Theatre for young audiences 2019

20 March 2019: ASSITEJ World Day of Theatre for children is a campaign promoted and celebrated through the message: "Take a child to the theatre, today."


This year’s messages have been written by Yvette Hardie, President of ASSITEJ; Joyee, 8; and Jojo, 11.

ASSITEJ president Yvette Hardie says : “Children need to be offered to enjoy moments in community where they are reminded of what we share, and where they are able to appreciate the multiple realities of what it means to be human.”

Joyee says : “Without theatre, there would be no imagination. Everyone wouldn’t be able to be themselves. Without stories, everyone would be bored all the time. A bit gloomy – they wouldn’t really feel very nice.”

Jojo says : “I love theatre where you have to use your imagination, your own imagination which is different from everyone else’s. Because the things in the show are hard to see or aren’t there, you have to imagine them. You make them up. And then you can see them really well.”

Find out more about ASSITEJ and World Day of Theatre for Young Audiences at this link.