Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-159)|
MBE MP AND JIM
10 OCTOBER 2007
Q140 Chairman: You are now going
to go down in history as the last witness to this Committee in
Jim Knight: A piece of history
I will treasure, Chairman.
Chairman: I know you like starring parts
given your past history. Fiona, would you like to carry on with
Q141 Fiona Mactaggart: Yes. I wanted
to press you on this.
Jim Knight: I thought you might.
Q142 Fiona Mactaggart: I think that
"at times this will devolve into schools", which is
a very attractive approach, can be an excuse because where in
the schools' budgets is the resource for this? One of the things
I was trying to look at was to find in an average primary school
the kind of flexibility which can produce the sort of work which
Priory School, Our Lady of Peace and some of the schools I have
quoted, have had. I do not see where that size of budget is to
give the kinds of things that have changed those two schools.
Jim Knight: To some extent that
is why I think it is right that we continue to fund the artists
separately, but through DSG we have the funding to host it. There
may be some funding to make a contribution but schools, governors
and headteachers make their decisions about their budgets. We
have increased by 50% in real terms over the last 10 years the
amount of money that schools get. In many cases they make the
choice to employ more staff but those are choices that they make.
If they want to fund more of this sort of activity or fund more
trips, those are options that they can pursue.
Q143 Fiona Mactaggart: So you are
saying that schools should choose between staff and this programme?
Jim Knight: I am saying they have
got a range of things they can spend money on. I do not criticise
schools for making decisions around employing. It seems an extraordinary
expansion to have 100,000 extra teaching assistants over the last
10 years, and they have been hugely important and successful,
but it is those crunchy decisions that we delegate to headteachers
and their governors that determine how much money they have got
for these sorts of activities. That is just part of devolution.
Q144 Fiona Mactaggart: So, "not
in my box, guv".
Jim Knight: In terms of Creative
Partnerships, at the moment in most cases they do not have to
pay for the artists and that makes it very attractive for them,
more attractive than some of the other things that are pitched
at them from various organisations who do really good work but
are charging for the time of the professionals who are coming
in. From their budgets it is attractive and schools will therefore
do it. It may even be attractive if they are paying 25% because
it is still a really good deal in terms of the outputs that they
get compared to some of the other things that they could spend
their money on, but those are decisions that are best made by
Q145 Fiona Mactaggart: They can only
be doing it if they have got an infrastructure which enables them
to have those relationships.
Jim Knight: Yes.
Q146 Fiona Mactaggart: That is what
Creative Partnerships provides, and the kind of in-service training
which enables teachers to do that themselves in the future in
the way that I described from that evidence from St Joseph's School
in Slough. I am struck by how much on the cheap your Department
gets that infrastructure, I really am. I am wondering if you could
perhaps go back from this Committee and look with your Secretary
of State at whether you can extend that infrastructure to some
more places because you cited the evidence and it is pretty compelling.
Jim Knight: Naturally we will
always look carefully at what this Committee advises us on and
you will produce your report and we will take that very seriously.
These sessions are very helpful for Ministers because they focus
our minds and you have certainly focused mine and I will go back
and reflect on it.
Q147 Fiona Mactaggart: Thank you.
Do come to Slough and see what we do in Creative Partnerships.
Jim Knight: I would love to come
Fiona Mactaggart: We have much to offer.
Q148 Chairman: Minister, Every
Child Matters includes an item and an outcome "enjoy
and achieve". Is this not one way of absolutely delivering
that outcome for Every Child Matters? From what we have
been hearing this morning and the evidence we have been given,
the ability to have these artists come in, and although my prejudice
will be that there should be more of a balance between my anoraks
who know about computers and
Jim Knight: Not all computer users
Q149 Chairman: Absolutely. This is
at the heart of enjoy and achieve. I hope you will go away with
this notion that it is core. I celebrate the fact that this is
an attempt to change what happens at the core of a school but,
again, I do hope you will go back and talk to officials about
this notion of getting the best value for money out of the evidence
of the experience.
Jim Knight: I would go further
to some extent and say I think the programme delivers on all five
of the Every Child Matters outcomes. There is a strong
relationship between this sort of work and the sort of work that
takes place in SEAL, where we know through the Social and Emotional
Aspects of Learning programme that we do a lot for children being
safe because it informs behaviour and discipline, and this work
does the same. There are good examples of it and we have heard
about Random Dance in Durham. It is good in terms of health outcomes.
Participation is obvious. In relation to economic achievement,
equally we have talked about this building on the sorts of skills
that employers are after as well as enjoy and achieve. It hits
all the right buttons for us.
Q150 Chairman: I bet you have had
the same experience as I have, Minister, when you go into a school
and you see a school where people are happy, they are having fun,
and if they are happy and having fun they are achieving. I do
not want to mention achievement in the sense of standards and
all that, and reaching targets, but the fact is you know a happy
school when you go in. Those schools are often noisy, there is
music, there is exhilaration about the activity. What I and the
Committee am keen on is if this pilot is going to be worth the
quite substantial amount of money that taxpayers put up; it is
the lessons and the derivatives.
Jim Knight: Yes.
Q151 Chairman: It has been quite
a short time but it is coming to the time when we can learn lessons.
Jim Knight: Yes.
Q152 Chairman: I hope you will go
away and perhaps collude with Margaret Hodge and go for some more
money on it.
Jim Knight: I think we have heard
from Margaret as well on the importance of us working closely
together to develop the cultural offer, to expand the cultural
offer. We would be very foolish if we did not learn the lessons
and particularly the merits of this programme as we build that
Q153 Mr Chaytor: Is there a distinction
to be drawn between what appears to be a growing consensus about
the importance of injecting more creativity into the curriculum
and the question of whether the particular model of Creative Partnerships
is the most effective way of doing that? Specifically, can I ask
you do you think that the Ofsted report, the Ofsted Evaluation
of Creative Partnerships, provides sufficient justification for
continuing with the existing model?
Jim Knight: I think the Ofsted
report taken in conjunction with the other assessment that we
have had, as I said earlier, given the difficulty of measuring
some of the outputs that we get from Creative Partnerships, the
reporting on the views of headteachers that we got through the
British Market Research Bureau report, is as significant for me
as the Ofsted one.
Q154 Mr Chaytor: If you ask a headteacher
do they want an injection of new cash into their school and more
activities financed by somebody from outside, they are not going
to turn it down, are they?
Jim Knight: I was struck by what
they said in terms of outputs, what it did for young people and
the achievement of young people. It is not just a basic question
to headteachers, "Do you want more of it", it is, "What
does it achieve for your school" and that is significant.
Q155 Mr Chaytor: The Ofsted findings
were not absolutely over the top; they were fairly modest in the
way they described it. Just one or two quotes: "Most creative
partnerships programmes were effective in developing in pupils
some attributes of creative people." "Creative practitioners
were well-trained and most teachers gained in understanding".
This is not a great eulogy in favour of what has been done over
the last three years, is it?
Jim Knight: No, and I think most
people who work in the school system would suggest that Ofsted
are not famous for their eulogies.
Q156 Mr Chaytor: Ofsted produce reports
to describe schools as "outstanding".
Jim Knight: For sure. I think
in a programme that has been running over six years7,000
projects, a similar amount of different practitioners, many thousands
of schools and 800,000 pupils have participated in ityou
will get some variability. So an Ofsted assessment of it, I think,
inevitably is not going to say: "This is, in every case,
absolutely outstanding"; it is going to talk in general terms,
in most cases; it is going to qualify its response because with
that number of projects you will get variability. It is just inevitable.
Q157 Mr Chaytor: So from the different
evaluations that have taken place so far, what do you identify
as the main weaknesses that need to be addressed in any future
development of policy on creativity in the curriculum?
Jim Knight: As ever, I think,
we need to ensure that what variability we have is minimised,
so that we get everyone up to the standard of the best and that
the assessment of the individual projects works that through.
Given the sort of discussion that we have had this morning it
is important, also (and we have seen some of the CPD effects,
not just in the schools that have taken part but more widely)
to see how we can maximise the effect in the educational community
that is around where these activities are taking place as well.
Q158 Mr Chaytor: In terms of other
changes in the curriculum, and we have touched on 14-19 Diplomas
earlier, what about Key Stage 3? Is the Department in the process
or has it completed its review of Key Stage 3? Are there plans
to inject a greater creative dimension to Key Stage 3?
Jim Knight: Absolutely. The new
secondary curriculum that starts from September of next year provides
much greater opportunity for creativity across the curriculum.
I guess I would agree, to some extent, with the criticism of the
curriculum as it now stands, that because it is so prescriptive
it stifles creativity too much. So freeing that up with less prescription
means that we can encourage, and in some cases there may be professionals
who need to remember their creativity because they have been used
to just delivering to the specification for some time now. Part
of CPD, to prepare for the new secondary curriculum, will need
to address how we can get creativity in their teaching and their
pedagogy, regardless of what subject they are teaching.
Q159 Mr Chaytor: Given the importance
of Key Stage 3, because this is the phase at which many children
lost their interest in learning
Jim Knight: Year Eight and onwards.