Building a Creative Future: How Investing in Children is the Key to Unlocking the UK’s Potential
The UK government has published a new policy paper setting out how the creative industries sector will drive growth, build talent, and develop skills to support the UK’s economy and shape the country’s future.
With key issues such as the pandemic, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine impacting the UK economy over the last few years, many businesses in the creative sector have struggled to survive. The ongoing economic uncertainty has forced business leaders to adapt or die, with innovation and resilience helping them to navigate the ever-changing landscape in the business world.
This new government policy highlights these challenges faced by the creative industry whilst recognising that the sector plays a vital role in not only supporting the UK economy, but helping to develop and grow it for future generations.
In his foreword on the policy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak states that the creative sector generates £108 billion a year for the economy and employs over 2.3 million people across the country.
The sector has also grown more than 1.5 times faster than the wider economy over the past decade, further demonstrating its value to the UK’s plans for growth and a more stable, resilient economy.
A better future cannot be built without talented people to make it happen. There needs to be a strong emphasis on “building a pipeline of talent and opportunity for our young people”. This can only be achieved through a solid educational foundation for children to develop key skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing, tech-driven world.
At Green Bean Studios, enabling children to play, learn, explore the world around them, and develop confidently is at the forefront of our business. We recognise that learning can be fun and doesn’t just begin when kids start school; the core skills of literacy, numeracy, and social/emotional development begin from birth.
Parents and caregivers reading to children is the first and most vital step to enabling children to gain the necessary skills to thrive in education, achieve goals, and live a fulfilling life whilst making positive contributions to society.
If the government’s ambitious plans for the creative industry sector leading the UK economy are to be successful, investing in the next generation of children must be a priority to support this.
Green Bean Studios has published a collectable range of children's books, toys, and games aimed at babies to children aged seven years called the Green Bean Collection. As a brand, we continue to highlight the importance of play and how reading for pleasure is the most important factor when determining a child’s future success. Despite this, reading for pleasure in children has continued to decline at an alarming rate over the past decade, and is now at its lowest levels in 18 years.
With a recent report from the National Literacy Trust showing that children’s enjoyment of writing is also dramatically declining, the future of creative industries may be at an even greater risk than simply being under economic constraints.
The prevalence of technology and AI being incorporated into even more areas of our daily lives serves as an additional barrier to children reading and writing for pleasure. The increase in digital distractions and the allure of screens makes it all the more challenging for children to spend quiet, focused time reading and writing for the love of it.
Tech and AI may even play an important role in encouraging children to read and write more when utilised in ways that unlock new skills and create more jobs for the future. Digital content that supports children to think independently and inspires them to follow their own creative journeys could be used effectively alongside screen-free entertainment, such as books and toys, so that all forms of children’s entertainment and educational resources work together to promote a love of reading and writing.
Reading and writing for pleasure are inextricably linked to creativity. They are the building blocks for spurring imagination and bringing creative concepts into being. Storytelling helps children to expand their imagination, understand the world around them, and solve problems in new and creative ways.
The stories from the Green Bean Collection help to spark this creativity and imagination in young children, encouraging them to get excited about reading and writing from a young age.
Whilst we create our ECO books, toys, games, and entertainment productions from an edutainment stance, incorporating the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, we recognise that the key to unlocking a love of reading and writing is to make it fun and engaging, which in turn gives children the love for play. Using repetition by reading and re-reading familiar stories helps to extend little ones' imaginations and gives them confidence in who they are.
Developing the necessary skills of reading and writing, and nurturing a love of doing so beyond sitting exams and getting good grades, enables children to explore ideas and develop their individual creativity. This is fundamental to the UK nurturing new talent so that the children of today can be the creative industry leaders of tomorrow.
In response to the new government policy, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) highlighted that the “need for the education system to better nurture the development of creative skills was identified as a clear priority,” and that there was “much to be learned from the experiences of the devolved nations, particularly at school age level”.
Within his foreword, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that the creative sector will receive over £75 million of new investment, building on over £230 million of support since 2021. The funding will enable young people to “release their inner creativity”, whilst helping start-ups become scale-ups and allowing local businesses to export internationally.
Education and the future of the UK economy go hand-in-hand. If the government is to implement long-lasting change that cements the UK as a leader in the global economy driven by the creative sector, then sustained funding must be provided to support children to succeed.
Green Bean Studios founder, Anita Frost, says “Purpose-driven entertainment is vital – we need to knuckle down on creativity. In the entertainment industry, there’s a lot of cash-rich companies not doing ‘good’ things. Creatives have the opportunity to do things with impact and purpose for the greater good of our society and future generations.
Children are our future workforce and play is a child’s first touch, taste, and sound of ‘work’. Enabling children to have fun learning, playing, and going on adventures are the building blocks for shaping this future workforce of creative talent.”
For the UK economy to truly grow and flourish, support needs to start from the ground up. Investing now is more critical than ever before; with proper funding and commitment, we can build a future that empowers children to reach their full potential and tap into their unique creative gifts to help tackle some of the biggest issues our society faces, making the world a better place to live in for generations to come.
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Melissa Brannlund is the features writer and editor, for Green Bean Studios.
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You can find Melissa's monthly features on the News & Media page, discussing children's books, toys, and games,, reading, play, early years education, and enjoying a fun and greener lifestyle.
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