Arts in Schools: Growing Crisis

05 November 2012

For the last year we have all suspected that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate would have a significant effect on the place of the arts and culture in schools, and over the last few weeks we have started to see some evidence that this really is the case.

A recent poll by Ipsos Mori shows that over the last year alone 27% of schools have cut courses as a direct result of the EBacc’s introduction. Of the courses cut, Drama, Performing Arts, Art and Design and Design and Technology are the worst hit.

Last month we reported Michael Gove’s plans to create new qualifications that will replace GCSEs in the EBacc subjects. He said that these would be ‘linear’, would not involve coursework and would be assessed at the end of the two year period. Civil servants estimate that these new qualifications will take up 80% of curriculum time. If the arts and creative subjects are not included within this new suite of qualifications, then we risk a two-tier system where our disciplines are squeezed into remaining time and where they are seen as less important, less rigorous and of less value than others. This is a bleak outlook, and may only be compounded by the new plans for an ABacc (to come in to force at A-level), which initially seems to define Arts subjects only as English and History.

Central policy reform is not supporting schools to include the arts and culture in their offer. In addition to the disincentive of the EBacc, our National Curriculum is being restructured to marginalise several artforms - Drama has been stripped from the latest draft Primary Curriculum, and the place of Dance is looking increasingly uncertain.

A large number of organisations and individuals are getting involved in this debate. This weekend the Guardian ran an extensive article on the subject of the EBacc and published some insightful thoughts and powerful arguments from both Sir Nick Serota and Grayson Perry. We have also seen press pieces from Artist Bob and Roberta Smith , Nick Hytner of the National Theatre , a group of national dance organisations, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Julian Lloyd Webber and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

In this landscape the CLA continues to meet with civil servants and decision makers, respond to enquiries and to pull together the evidence and arguments to support this case, but it is critical that we all continue to flag this issue and call for the restoration of the arts to the curriculum and for the inclusion of the arts in the EBacc in as many different places and forums as we can.

We therefore urge you to do the following:

1. Brief your board and governors

Your Chairs, governors and board members are key influencers and we need them to make this case to politicians, 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 have put together the attached document, which sets out the issues and arguments around the EBacc and we are asking you to table and distribute it at your next meeting.

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

2. Brief your Communications team

If you have a communications or marketing team that talks to the press or puts together positions for your organisation, give them these messages so that they can incorporate them in their work.

3. Use the evidence

Use our Key Research Findings, our ImagineNation document and our Drama in schools document to make the case to your local school and community. Tell us what other evidence and statistics you need.

4. Campaign!

Sign up to the ISM’s

Bacc for the Future Campaign. It is calling for the Education Select Committee to launch an enquiry into the EBacc and to interrogate why the arts and cultural subjects haven’t been included.

5. Write to your MP

This webpage tells you how.

Use the board briefing and the evidence to help you make your case and ask your MP to write to the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) on your behalf. The system is structured so that he will have to respond to you.

6. Respond to the DfE’s current consultation on Key Stage 4 Qualifications

This consultation asks key questions about the EBacc and its structure. You can find all the information about how to respond here.