Painting a Picture: Using data to support Cultural Education

Painting a Picture:

Using data to support Cultural Education

On 29 November 2017 I participated in a panel discussion for ‘Landmarks of Cultural Education: Celebrating the Role of Libraries in Cultural Education Partnerships’. This event launched ‘Captivate’: Nottinghamshire’s Cultural Education Partnership, which initially has a focus on Ashfield and Mansfield.I used this as an opportunity to illustrate why data can be a powerful tool in helping us to identify and thus overcome the significant inequality of opportunity many children and young people face.

Cultural education is important because: it provides access to better life chances, offers a different perspective on the world, and develops key transitional soft skills. All of which is vital when addressing socio-economic barriers whilst attempting to ‘narrow the gap’ and overcome inequality. So, what does the data tell us about Ashfield and Mansfield and why should a CEP focus on these locations?

In the East Midlands there are just under 1.1 million children and young people aged 0-19, of which 29,033 live in Ashfield and 24,220 live in Mansfield[1]. These areas have a significant population of young people and both rank highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. On a scale where 1 is the most deprived and 326 is the least deprived Mansfield is ranked at 59 and Ashfield 70. [2] The deprivation which these areas experience is highlighted by the numbers of children and young people living in poverty. Nationally 20% of children live in poverty and the figure for the East Midlands is just under this at 19%. For Ashfield and Mansfield this figure is under the national average, but still remains high: 17% of children and young people live in poverty in Ashfield and 18% in Mansfield.[3]

The picture which the data tells is a continuous one; when looking at free school meals the national average of 14% is slightly lower than the East Midlands average at 13% and then again slightly lower for Nottinghamshire at 12%[4]. However, what these figures highlight is that there is still significant deprivation and we know that this means that these young people do not have access to equal cultural education opportunities which can enrich their lives, long-term.

Promoting a high-quality cultural education offer is vital for children and young peoples’ personal development. The Mighty Creatives believe one mechanism through which this can be achieved is through the implementation of Artsmark (an award for schools) and Arts Award (an award for children and young people). These awards promote high-quality arts and cultural education and provide a framework where arts and culture can flourish in young peoples’ lives.

However, another reason for beginning Nottinghamshire’s CEP in Ashfield and Mansfield is that take up of these awards is low. 11% of schools in Nottinghamshire have Artsmark and considering the number of children and young people living in Ashfield and Mansfield the number of Arts Awards achieved is depressingly low: in 2014/15 only 7 Arts Awards were received in Mansfield and 55 in Ashfield[5]. In 2016/17 there was a rise in the number of Arts Awards obtained, with 180 being gained in Mansfield but none in Ashfield, but yet, this figure is still low considering just over 53,000 children and young people live in these areas.

So, why is data important? It’s important because it highlights the story of need and can help us join the dots. The data is the backbone to illustrating why a certain intervention is needed in a specific location. If used effectively data which is readily available through the ACE data portal and released periodically by the government strengthens our case for why cultural education is necessary in order to narrow the gap and make an impact in our local communities.

The data is there to be used. Use it. Make your case. Make a difference.


[1] ACE data portal

[2] Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2015

[3] Office for National Statistics, Percentage of Children in Poverty 2015

[4] Schools, pupils and their characteristics, 2017

[5] ACE data portal