Leading Artists Concerned due to ‘Degradation’ of Arts in the UK Schools

The Government’s reform of the education system has caused a concern about the future of the arts in the UK schools and the country’s creativity. The new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) certificates that are supposed to replace GCSEs as a performance indicator do not include the arts as one of the core subjects. Many of the UK’s leading artists therefore expressed a deep concern about the role of the arts in schools in the future, fearing that the arts will be pushed on the margins of the curriculum.

Why the Proposed Reform is “Dangerous”

Artists who have called the Government to reconsider its plans for the reform emphasise that educational system must also allow children and young people to develop their imagination and creativity to succeed both in school and life. They underlined that the arts allow young people to express themselves and develop cultural skills which made the UK’s art scene one of the world’s leading centres of creativity and originality. Without an opportunity to learn the arts and about the arts in the UK schools, the country is feared to lose its pre-eminent position in the world of arts.


The UK’s Artists about the New EBacc

Director of the Tate, Nicholas Serota stated that without the arts as one of the core subjects, the arts will be given less and less time and space in the curriculum. Serota also said that the new EBacc poses a serious threat to the future of the UK’s thriving creative industry. Along with others from the Cultural Learning Alliance, the Tate’s director called for the arts to be included in the EBacc alongside English, math, science, foreign languages and humanity subjects.

Composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès described the Government’s plans as “suicidal” for the British art, saying that it were school music lessons that played the key role in his success.

Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Martin Roth said that degradation of the arts in the UK schools poses a serious threat to the UK’s reputation as one of the world most creative nations.

Government’s Response to the Critics

A spokeswoman from the Department of Education said that the UK schools can still offer the GCSEs. But since subjects such as art, design, music, dance and drama do not count in the EBacc, the opponents of the Government’s plan argue that most schools will focus on the five subjects that are a part of the EBacc and push the arts aside. And the results of a research by Ipsos Mori confirm the concerns of the artists. Their research has shown that over one quarter of schools withdrew subjects that are not relevant for the EBacc from the curriculum. And the arts were the most commonly withdrawn subject – drama and performing art account for over 20% of withdrawn subjects, while art accounts for 17%.