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Culture secretary calls for "common sense" on health and safety

Culture secretary Andy Burnham has suggested that common sense can be better than constant references to 'health and safety'.

Andy Burnham at Tate Modern
Andy Burnham at Tate Modern
The conference was held in the Turbine Hall
The conference was held in the Turbine Hall
Culture secretary calls for
Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota with culture secretary Andy Burnham and some of the young people involved in the project

The cabinet minister was speaking at Tate Modern where he was challanged by a teenager who claimed that at school he had been prevented by 'health and safety' from standing on a chair to take a photograph.

"There should definately be a swing back to common sense," said the minister. "I think that sometimes 'health and safety' is used as an excuse. We need to get the pendulum to come back a bit. But we should not expose anyone to unnecessary risk-taking."

Earlier the culture secretary had been presented by 500 young people with a Manifesto for a Creative Britain calling "for opportunities to take risks so that we are not afraid to try new things".

On being challenged to change the national curriculum, Andy Burnham said: "For the government it has to be a balance. You have to be sure everyone is coming out with the basics. You have to give everyone a grounding." But he added that it was the aim to give all young people the chance to do five hours of culture a week and not just in school hours.

The 11 to 19-year-olds gathered in the Turbine Hall declared themselves prepared to start at the bottom and work their way up. But they also requested investment saying "we are the future".

"We shall give you a formal response," said the minister who promised to discuss the manifesto with schools secretary Ed Balls. "Hopefully, it might develop the cause of creativity in our schools and in our country."

The project was launched last year with a sleepover in the Turbine Hall as Tate, in collaboration with Creative Partnerships, sought to find out what young people feel they need in order to learn, think and act creatively. How could schools be different? What could their teachers and other people working in the creative industries do to help? How could they develop the best environment in which to make creative decisions and form ideas? How do organisations respond to their needs?

"This important eighteen-month consultation is the first of its kind in this country," says Tate director Nicholas Serota.

"We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support for the project and the impressive way in which the young people have delivered their findings and advice. It is vital that they have a say in the creative future of this country and Tate is very privileged to have been able to use their ideas in planning the new development at Tate Modern."

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