Facilitating subjects scrapped

23 May 2019

Today the Russell Group of universities has announced that it is removing the list of facilitating subjects from the guidance it publishes to help young people select the subjects they will study at GCSE and post 16.

The Cultural Learning Alliance is delighted to see that the Russell Group is dropping its facilitating subjects list, which excluded arts subjects, and is pleased to see the impressive leadership that the Group is displaying in terms of supporting young people to make informed choices about their studies and their futures.

We want all young people to be given the best possible chance to succeed. Evidence shows that this involves giving them the opportunity to study a broad and rich curriculum and the right mix of skills and knowledge to progress. The CLA is also particularly pleased to see that the new guidance has an emphasis on supporting less advantaged pupils, who may not always receive the same level of advice as their better off peers. 

Last year the CLA co-published a briefing on Employability with our partners The Edge Foundation showing that it is now widely accepted that employers value employees with 21st-century skills – a mix of cognitive and personal skills, like creativity and collaboration – as well as content knowledge.  It is great to see the Russell Group of universities following this trend.  There is increasing international recognition of the value and rigour of arts qualifications.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, Chair of the Cultural Learning Alliance and RSC Director of Education said:

We hope that this important move by the Russell Group makes a significant contribution to changing perceptions of the value of arts subjects in the English education system. Scrapping the old facilitating subjects list and providing comprehensive, nuanced and interactive guidance is a clear message to students, parents and schools: studying the arts can offer a route to a wide-range of different careers and fields of study.”

This is a major shift, and excellent news for the arts in schools. It is also significant because the government’s English Baccalaureate measure is based on the old facilitating subjects list.