News

Arts education statistics: what we know

28 June 2016

There has been much discussion about the provision, take up and status of arts in schools across England since 2010 with conflicting statistics being offered by different groups. In this post we attempt to untangle some of the discussion.

For those of you who are interested in the numbers these stats come from read on to the bottom of this post for all the details.

Headline statistics

Our analysis of the GCSE entry numbers published by the Joint Council for qualifications and Ofqual since 2010 shows there has been a decline of:

  • 20% in arts GCSE entries (using provisional Ofqual 2016 figures)
  • 2% in the number of pupils taking at least one Arts GCSE 2010 to 2015

Department for Education figures show there has been a decline of:

  • 10% in the hours arts are taught in schools
  • 11% in arts teachers in schools

The Department of Education has shared a different set of figures on GCSE arts entries which show an increase of 1% in the number of children studying at least one Arts GCSE, something Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools referenced in a speech on Music Education in March this year: since the EBacc was announced, the percentage of state school pupils entered for at least 1 GCSE in an arts subject has increased. And so has the number of entries to music GCSE.

How can all these statistics be correct?

It is down to what information is included in the calculations. Our numbers include Design and Technology and Dance, which the DfE figures exclude. We also focus just on GCSE entries, the DfE included AS Levels in their numbers. Finally we use 2010 as a baseline, before the EBacc was announced, the DfE figures use 2011.

If we were including wider subjects to get a full view of what pupils are studying we would also want to include Level 2 BTECs in Craft, Creative Arts and Design which saw a decline in entries of 24,712 between 2011 and 2015.

Using the same methodology as the DfE the rise of 1% in pupils entered for at least 1 GCSE changes to a fall of 2% when Design and Technology and Dance are included.

Falls in number of arts teachers and arts teaching hours

It is not just GCSE entries that suggest arts education is in trouble in schools. Department for Education figures published in July 2015 show that between 2010 and 2014 the number of hours the arts were taught in secondary schools fell by 10% and the number of arts teachers fell by 11%.

What can we do to support children’s access to arts in schools?

Arts subjects are an essential part of children and young people’s education, enshrined within human rights and developing key skills and competencies for adult life. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are particulary hard hit by a decline in the arts in schools.  Compared to their wealthier peers they do not get the same level of access to arts outside of school.

The creative industries are a key strength of UK plc, growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. Our arts and culture give us soft diplomatic power, something that will only increase in importance as we leave the EU. The pipeline of talent in to these industries need to be bolstered, not squeezed by a fall in the number of students studying these areas.

Given all these issues what do you think is the best way forward? Please do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Arts GCSE entries – England only numbers

The figures below do not include Dance GCSE as the figures for 2016 have not been published. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of Dance GCSE entries fell from 15,884 to 11,865, a decline of 25%.

From 2010 to 2016 there has been a decline of 20% in the number of arts GCSE entries in Art and Design, Design and Technology, Media/Film/TV Studies, Music and Performing/expressive arts from from 720,438 in 2010, to 618,440 in 2015. 

 Arts subjects

 2010

 2016

 % change 2010 to 2016

 Art and Design subjects

 188193

 172550

 0%

 Design and Technology

 287701

 175130

 -35%

 Drama

 87336

 68250

 -16%

 Media/Film/TV Studies

 67764

 51410

 -19%

 Music

 51272

 41860

 -9%

 Performing/expressive arts

 22288

 18020

 -23%

 Total

 720438

 527220

 -20%

As a comparison the EBacc subjects of Geography and History have seen rises of +30% and +21% respectively in their entries since 2010.

The number of pupils in year 11 (the year most students take GCSEs) fluctuates each year. In 2010 it was 565,660 and in 2015 it was 544,013[1], or a fall of 4%. Figures for 2016 are not available.

 

GCSE entries in Arts subjects 2010 to 2016

Data from Joint Council for qualifications and Ofqual

2016 figures are from Ofqual and are provisional. All other figures are from the the Joint Council for qualifications annual results tables http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/gcses.

Arts subjects

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Art and Design subjects

172504

167980

163818

167894

177206

181117

172550

Design and Technology

270401

238483

226656

206044

200133

192183

 175130

Drama

81592

75336

71460

70402

71399

71435

 68250

Media/Film/TV Studies

63808

62915

57451

55005

59536

58496

 51410

Music

46045

43127

41511

41580

42668

43667

 41860

Performing/expressive arts

23505

21211

19901

19188

19607

19563

 18020

Dance/Performing Arts

15884

13443

12592

11856

12200

11865

not available

Total

673739

622495

593389

571969

582749

578326

 

 

GCSE entries in arts subjects - data provided by the Department for Education

England only numbers

 

2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Applied art and design

0

1476

1171

1051

855

823

Art & design

169743

162832

159481

164932

171431

176363

Drama

80989

74896

70523

69863

71245

71113

Media/film/TV

58882

55856

52639

51213

52485

52152

Music

45799

43566

41217

41690

42832

44093

Dance

15374

13249

12034

11614

11958

12014

Performing Arts

1854

3770

3361

3931

4917

6038

Design and Technology

267628

239002

223920

205888

201359

194722

Total entries

640269

594647

564346

550182

557082

557318

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pupils with at least one GCSE entry in arts subjects

433750

409914

395137

393740

401066

400972

Pupils at end of key stage 4 in all schools

639263

627093

620617

632397

618437

611081

% of cohort with at least one GCSE entry in arts subjects

67.9%

65.4%

63.7%

62.3%

64.9%

65.6%

Includes GCSE, GCSE double awards, level 1/2 certificates and AS levels as per the DfE methodology in this note.

 

[1] Student cohort numbers are from the Department for Education Schools, pupils and their characteristics statistical releases https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-school-and-pupil-numbers.