Over the last 12 years the cost of university tuition fees has increased by 800% – meaning many students entering Higher Education in 2018 are faced with debts of nearly £30,000 for course fees alone. This has lead to students considering, and even being encouraged to, pursue “safe” “useful” or “work related” subjects at HE level. Add to this the withdrawal of funding for Arts & Humanities teaching and it’s no wonder students from disadvantaged backgrounds are choosing not to engage in cultural and creative subjects at University.
Southampton boasts 55 primary schools, 12 senior schools, 9 colleges or sixth forms and 2 universities. The wealth of talent and potential within these young people should not be underestimated. Unfortunately with 22.7% of these children (under 16) living in poverty, access to Further and Higher Education can be problematic. Much work needs to be carried out to demystify creative careers and help students understand the virtues of studying arts subjects.
As the age old adage goes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – It’s all about your network. This is particularly true of the creative and cultural industries, you have to be seen and make yourself known in order to secure work. Building these networks and relationships can take many, many years and is a daunting prospect for any graduate, let alone a young person looking to explore options within the sector. The sector is largely unrepresented within schools and those working within the sector are notorious for only speaking amongst themselves. The biggest challenge facing many young people is where to start – we need to open the doors and let the next generation in.
Southampton Cultural Development Trust is aiming to create a network which target students in senior schools to encourage them to pursue arts subjects at KS4 and College. Through twelve months of mentoring, students will explore the options available to them, meet like-minded individuals and set personal, attainable goals. Each student will be matched with another student who is further along the educational system that has followed a similar path and has experiences to share. We hope to engage those who have little or no access to the knowledge, skills and networking that SCDT are able to offer to help support them in taking the first steps towards a creative career.
Putting the arts back into STEM.