"The Effects of the English Baccalaureate", a report produced this month
by the Department for Education confirms that the ebacc has led directly to a reduction in provision for creative subjects. 27% of schools have withdrawn at least one subject as a result of the ebacc. Of these schools::
- Drama and Performing Arts have been withdrawn in 23%
- Art has been withdrawn in 17%
- Design Technology has been withdrawn in 14%
The English Baccalaureate consists of Maths, English, Science, a language and either History or Geography. Given that most students take two English GCSEs and at least two Sciences, this takes up seven of most student's GCSE choices - with many students only take 8 GCSEs. This site was one of the first to warn that this could crowd-out other subjects like art, music and design and reported a year ago
that funding for art and design was being cut. Nicolas Serota, Director of the Tate, recently warned
of the dangers of arts subjects being excluded from Gove's new curriculum. Now the DfE's own research confirms that this is the case.
The report also reveals the confusion that the uncertainty around the ebacc has caused: "Some schools told pupils it would be an essential requirement for elite universities, others said it would not matter to universities, and other schools acknowledged they did not know..... This uncertainty led in some cases to pupils taking the EBacc ‘just in case’ it proved important in the future."
The Labour Party's Technical Baccalaureate would give a new emphasis to vocational subjects but it should not be seen as the English Baccalaureate for the more academic and the Technical Baccalaureate for the others. (This is not the Labour Party's approach, as they plan to abolish all exams at age 16 apart from English and Maths.)
Creative subjects should not be seen as second class option for those not able to cope with traditional academic subjects. As Serota argued, the arts enable young people to express themselves, which is fundamental to achieving success in later life. "There is a real risk that fewer and fewer schools will provide learning opportunities in the arts. The UK's leading edge in creativity may be lost,"
Creative subjects like art, music, drama and design should not be seen as second-best compared to history or a language. Each is important in its own right, both for students own development and for the needs of the modern economy. Let us have a flexible curriculum that enables each student to play to their strengths, not be forced into the specific choices of a Secretary of State wanting to recreate the conditions of his own education.
My thanks to @theartcriminal, whose tweet alerted me to this report.