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Mr Paul Roberts OBE

I am driven by the inequitable engagement that children and young people have with the outstanding range and quality of cultural activity in England. The research evidence of such a strong correlation between parental academic qualification and a child's degree of cultural activity is as predictable as it is unacceptable. It points to the folly that greater equity simply requires greater supply - that merely advantages the already advantaged. In fact the challenge is to unlock demand in families and communities that have little or no tradition of cultural activity. So we need to focus on increasing, broadening and deepening the demand for culture through education and also by challenging artists and cultural organisations to engage with and develop new audiences in particular.

While valuing the intrinsic benefit of cultural activity I have also seen throughout my career the extrinsic gain for children and young people. I am particularly interested in the way in which cultural activity is a means of enriching creative pedagogy and developing young people's creative confidence. The 2014 McKinsey report - Education to Employment: Getting Europe's Youth into Work - provides clear evidence of the challenges we face and of the need for us to develop and nurture that creative confidence in our young people. They deserve nothing less.


A graduate in Philosophy and Mathematics, a teacher and schools inspector, Paul Roberts was Director of Education in Nottingham and subsequently in Haringey leading the Government intervention in Haringey Council. He was a Director of Capita Strategic Education Services before joining the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) for local government.

At IDeA he was Director of Strategy and subsequently Managing Director, overseeing the organization’s £50m programmes of work based on knowledge management, peer review and support for local authority elected members.

As author of the joint DfES/DCMS report “Nurturing Creativity in Young People”, Paul was adviser to government Ministers on the development of the cultural offer for young people and is now chair of the trustees for Creativity, Culture and Education. He is also vice-Chair at Nottingham Contemporary, deputy-Chair at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts as well as holding Board positions at the Greenwood Academies Trust and the Innovation Unit. He has served on a range of committees at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). He is currently a member of the DoE/DCMS Ministerial Board for Cultural Education, of the Arts Council steering group for In Harmony and is Chair of the Nottingham Music Education Hub.
Paul is a FRSA and was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to Education and the Creative Industries.

Paul Roberts OBE