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All pupils should get wider arts entitlement, says poet laureate

ANDREW Motion, the poet laureate, is spearheading a campaign to give every pupil a minimum entitlement to arts activities, including school visits from writers and artists and trips to the theatre, museums, galleries and the cinema.

He wants the Government to back and fund a range of activities which are designed to enrich arts education for all children.

"Visits by writers and trips to the theatre need to be standardised to make them as common as school milk, if the milk were still available," said Mr Motion. "We need to make creativity part of criticism, to put it at the centre of every child's education and to enrich their experience."

Mr Motion told The TES that pupils' opportunities to take part in arts activities were dictated by money and time.

"At the moment, visits and trips are not available in a thorough or regular way - there is a lot of inequality," he said. "Schools that can afford it, do it and those that can't, don't."

A series of confereces will be held across the country, organised by the Book Trust, to find out which activities teachers think would benefit children most. Secondary heads estimate they spend around pound;15,000 a year on museum and theatre trips and on writers' visits to schools.

Trevor Millum, development director for the National Association for the Teaching of English, said entitlements would be a step forward but would not necessarily mean headteachers gave them priority.

"Such activities have to be part of the ethos of the school. Visits from writers will not make much difference if they are not backed up in the way children learn and teachers teach."

A report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, published last year, found opportunities for a broad education in the arts were a lottery for most pupils.

The three-year study found huge differences amoung schools in the amount and quality of arts experience they offer pupils.

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