Ofsted define cultural capital as:
‘…the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping them to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’
The arts empower children. Access to the arts and culture is access to our national life and is the universal right of every child. Cultural capital – the factual knowledge, intellectual skills and emotional intelligence that are gained through exposure to the arts – is acquired over time, as children are introduced to the ideas, images and values that constitute the culture of their families, their communities, and the wider world.
Children who feel ownership of the arts and culture feel more conﬁdent in their ability to create, challenge and explore, to be a part of society and to make change happen. Children denied this access can feel locked out and left behind.
‘Learning through culture and the arts leads to creative thinking, confidence and problem-solving – all skills which are prized by employers and which young people need. If we fail to offer our young people the opportunity to participate in the arts and culture, then we fail to support them in becoming the leading thinkers, innovators, creative business and community leaders of the future.’
Our curriculum strives to enable children ‘…to stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before and create new and exciting forms of culture’ (Cultural Learning Alliance (2017)) through providing enrichment opportunities, such as visits to art galleries, theatres and museums, within a rich and cultured curriculum.
As Martin Robinson (2018) states ‘the most expensive seats in theatre are not the ones with the best view. For some people it is more important to be seen going to the theatre than the actual going itself.’ We apply this analogy to our curriculum: it is not enough for children to be seen to be reading Shakespeare, they need to feel the humour, the passion and the beauty of the literature. They need much more than to be told that Shakespeare was great writer; they need experience it.
Knowing itself is not enough.
We do not want our children to be sat in ‘boxes’ at the theatre. We believe that our children should go to the theatre to experience it. To be able to appreciate something, you need to participate in it, before going on to make judgements and decisions.
The arts create a culture of citizenship. For our national democracy to ﬂourish, we need everyone to participate in making decisions about our future. We need a tolerant society, in which people care about others. And research shows that children who engage with the arts are more likely to volunteer and are more likely to vote.
The Cultural Capital component of the curriculum aims to combine Knowledge with Experience and Judgement.
The three elements that the Oxford Dictionary uses to define wisdom.
To support children to succeed in life, the curriculum aims to give our pupils wisdom: knowledge of the world in which they live; experiences to make sense of it; and the confidence to make judgement on what they see.
And it hopes to inspire the future generations of artists to make the art that will challenge and inspire us.