20% decline in take up of Arts GCSEs since 2010

28 June 2016

New figures from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations (Ofqual) indicate that this year’s uptake of arts GCSEs in schools will fall even more sharply than we had feared.

Despite consistent reassurances from both Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan and Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, we are now set to see a 20% decline since 2010. We’ve put together a full briefing document on Arts Statistics in Schools which you can use to compare and contrast the numbers, but the bottom line is that government is increasingly ignoring the growing evidence that there is a significant problem. You can read the report in Arts Professional here.

The consultation on the latest set of EBacc reforms closed on the 29 of January and we are still awaiting the government’s response to the public’s submissions. However, in the interim, the Bacc for the Future Campaign has secured a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons on July 4 and are organising a public gathering and press call at the Old Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament on the day of the debate between 14:00 and 15:30. Bacc for the Future will supply campaign t-shirts and placards to any individuals attending. Email for more information.

It is really difficult to feel that we are making headway on this issue. The government’s reforms are glacially slow, and the proposals are so technically complex it can be difficult to explain exactly what the problems are. This has been a long process, with changes happening over the last six years, and it requires energy and investment of time and resource to keep making the case. However, this latest set of figures proves without a shadow of doubt that these central policy changes are having a huge influence on the lives of children and young people, the schools that work with them, and on our wider economy and society. We must therefore continue to put the case forward in as many different ways as possible and to as many different people as we can.

This campaign is particularly important in this current time of political instability. We must be fully briefed and able to make the case about cultural learning to all politicans and decision makers as new leaders, budgets and policies begin to emerge. 

We’ve created this suite of documents to help you make your case:

  • A short two-page briefing on the EBacc headlines
  • A technical briefing paper on the background and implications of the Ebacc and the arguments against it
  • A briefing on Arts in Schools statistics

What you can do:

  • Brief your board and governors about what is happening​

Your chairs, governors and board members are key influencers and we need them to make the case for change to politicians (including their own MPs), the press, headteachers, funders, policy makers, decision makers and advisors. We also need them to recruit the business community to this cause – we need voices from the commercial sector speaking up about the importance of the arts and culture.

We know this is a complex issue, if you would like us to talk to your Chair directly about this, just get in touch: 

  • Become a school governor and champion the arts

Described by a headteacher as ‘the most important thing cultural professionals can do for cultural learning’: being a school governor gives you insight in to the education landscape and allows you to provide valuable advice on how to secure high-quality cultural learning for your school. You can find out how to become a governor in your area here

  • Write to your MP

Write to your MP and ask them to raise these issues with Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, on your behalf. Bacc for the Future has a template letter here and you can find their details here 

  • Write to your school

If you are a secondary school pupil or a parent, write to your Headteacher and Chair of Governors to express your concerns and ask them to protect the arts subjects. If they are already doing this, let them know how much it means to you.