On Tuesday in the House of Lords, John Geoffrey Inge who is the Bishop of Worcester raised a very significant question during a question debate on the title of Schools: Data, Digital and Financial Literacy. The session was set out by the Conservative member of the House of Lords who is the Lord Holmes of Richmond. He opens it with the comments “To ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to designate data, digital, and financial literacy as compulsory subjects in primary and secondary schools in England. In asking my Question on the Order Paper, I declare my technology interests as set out in the register.” The person who responds to that is Baroness Barran who is Diana Francesca Caroline Clare Barran. After the other responses from Lord Holmes, Lord Clement-Jones who is a Liberal Democrat member of the House corresponds and the next stage comes from the Bishop of Worcester.
My Lords, recently I had the privilege of serving on your Lordships’ Communications Committee. What came through consistently in our inquiry into the effects of technology on the creative industries was the need for creative and artistic literacy as well as digital literacy—we need STEAM, not just STEM. I speak as a former scientist deeply committed to science and technology. Does the Minister agree and, if so, what can the Government do to enable that, given their reluctance to review the national curriculum and prioritise arts more?
And this is responded by Baroness Barran who states
The right reverend Prelate raises an important point. Certainly, when I was talking to a number of young people recently, they raised exactly the same issues as he does. I do not think that there is any resistance at all from the Government about the importance of a STEAM curriculum; we talk a lot about STEM, but we also talk a lot about our vibrant and incredibly successful creative industries. Our commitment to the teaching workforce has been that, during this period of recovery post Covid, there will be no changes to the national curriculum.
So we can be very grateful for the comment from the Bishop even though tragically there was a very inadequate response from Baroness Barran.