This week Arts Council announced the results of Artsmark 12.  

Congratulations to the students and staff at all of the schools involved - especially to the many schools I worked with in the lead up to submission.

Now you have the 'badge' what does it mean for the future?  How can you work together to develop your practice?  How can you work with other schools?  How can you develop your partnerships?

Let me know what you think and what you plans are for celebration
This week we see more news that shows the increasing risk of social exclusion and lack of social mobility in the current climate.

Save the Children have commissioned research that indicates that nearly two-thirds of UK parents cannot afford after-school activities for their children.  Evidence of the benefit of out of school hours activity is widespread and strong, it has real impact on the achievement and aspiration of young people and it broadens their horizons improving social cohesion and cultural understanding.  So if you find the statistic above worrying then consider this – the polling showed that nearly three-quarters of those parents below the poverty line can not afford after school activities.  Overall 29% revealed that their children don’t take part in any out of hours activity.

What can we do about this?

Schools can and do form the heart of communities and should lead the development of offers that are accessible to their families.  Schools do not have to organise this themselves – but they do need to have an ethos that encourages partnerships that can deliver.  So lets build the partnerships and make use of our valuable assets (people and places!).

Partnerships like this should form part of the Big Society, equally, as we see new forms of school organisation emerge (free schools and new academies) there is a clear opportunity for the development of a value driven approach to school governance and partnership that can deliver on a wider offer for young people.

In my experience with Creative Partnerships and working for central government I have seen the great practice that exists and that it does not have to cost a lot (certainly not the £20 per week cited in the reports of the Save the Children poll).

Lets get our priorities right here and give young people the opportunities they need and deserve.  After all - children did not spend their way to a record national deficit.
August is always a strange month when most of us try to get away from the desk, and the rest of us get the opportunity to think, reflect and develop ideas.

This week I have been thinking about practical ways to help the creative and learning sectors to learn, share and network.  Some really interesting discussions with colleagues at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art about partnership and creativity...

I have been thinking about language...and how in these difficult times we need to build our understanding and partnership across sectors – it is no news that business, culture and public sectors have their own languages.  So can we bridge the language gap?  What benefits would learning a new language bring...

To quote Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on languages "There is lots of evidence that learning a foreign language helps with development of English skills”

So I wonder – can the business sector learn the language of creativity and develop a new ways to solve its problems?  Why not? The creative sector has much to offer... Is there evidence? Yes.  At UCL they have found that learning other languages changes the way your brain processes information – it can build your learning muscles!