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Arts education for all, too

On the positive side, Warwick calls for continued and increased public investment in education and training. This is because, no matter how hard it tries to push a private/public partnership agenda, it cannot escape the key role of state education in developing the creativity and curiosity of students.

The government may be obsessed with “reducing the deficit”, but cultural workers have decided not to stand still, and instead to take some initiatives for the future. The Creative Industries sector was one of the first to set up apprenticeships at graduate level, in response to high demand.

Intensive summer arts courses for high-risk young people have resulted in a reduction in offending rates. The RSC’s Stand Up for Shakespeare campaign and Learning and Performance Network is another collaboration with teachers.

The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA), a collection of 9,000 individuals and organisations (National Theatre, Tate Modern, National Children’s Bureau, RSC, Sage Gateshead, English Heritage, etc), produced a manifesto entitled A Right to Culture for Every Child.

The manifesto proposes actions broadly welcomed by the NUT: a national plan focusing on schools, eg for music education; an arts and culture coordinator for every school; Ofsted inspection for a balanced curriculum including arts; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) to become STEAM (added Arts); and industry-endorsed careers advice. (The NUT would, however, prefer less, not more Ofsted).

CLA points to a 50 per cent drop in Design & Technology including textiles at GCSE level between 2003-2013, and 23 per cent in Performing Arts. This decline was reinforced by the introduction of the English baccalaureate (Ebacc) in 2010, resulting in a fall in state schools of specialist arts teachers. It had a disproportionate impact on schools with the most disadvantaged children, whose parents could not afford extra-curricular tuition.

From 2007-2013 there was a 25 per cent drop in other craft-related GCSEs (but a 70 per cent growth in Media, especially screen-based, such as Film). Much of the decline is related to loss of traditional British industries: there has been a 58 per cent fall in Ceramics and Glass over the last five years.

Britain needs creative scientists and artists who understand the properties of materials and the new possibilities offered by technology, but in 2012-13 only 8.4 per cent combined arts with sciences in AS Levels. Children should no longer have to choose between science or arts, as they did in the 1950s.

• Companion article: The battle for the arts: people versus profit