We need to fight for creativity in the classroom!

Department for Education figures published in June 2018 show that between 2010 and 2017 the number of hours the arts were taught in England’s secondary schools fell by 21% and the number of arts teachers fell by 20%.

Responding to:

Increasing decline in the hours of arts teaching and number of arts teachers in England’s secondary schools

For my first blog as Deputy CEO of The Mighty Creatives, I've been asked to respond to an article published by the Cultural Learning Alliance that has explored the decline in teaching hours and teachers for arts subjects in England’s schools. The full article can be found here: https://culturallearningalliance.org.uk/increasing...

The article ignited a number of thoughts in me, which took me all around the houses, but I kept coming back to this question:

Do we have an education system that is fit for purpose?

Department for Education figures published in June 2018 show that between 2010 and 2017 the number of hours the arts were taught in England’s secondary schools fell by 21% and the number of arts teachers fell by 20%.

In 2015 the ‘creative industries’ grew by 10% – five times faster than the UK economy as a whole, since then it has continued to grow – and now contributes almost £92bn to the UK economy according to the figures published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England stated;

“The sector is now bigger than automotive, life sciences, oil and gas and aerospace combined in the UK. As we become aware of the impact automation and artificial intelligence will have on the future workforce, it is clear the skills needed by our cultural and creative industries will become increasingly important to the economy as a whole.”

If this is the case, then why are we setting our young people up for failure? There has been a huge decline in teaching hours of arts subjects across the board. The proportion of 15 and 16-year-olds in England studying arts subjects (such as music and drama) has fallen to the lowest level in a decade as a result of government policies and education cuts. We have also seen Design and Technology slashed from timetables across the county.

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) has reinforced a hierarchical system that places arts once again at the bottom of the pack and subjects such as Maths and English on top. With more pressure to perform in these academic subjects and cuts to funding, schools are having to make difficult decisions that are pushing arts and creativity out of children and young people’s learning. As a sector we know that by encouraging children and young people to engage in arts and creativity they develop skills in problem solving, communication, creativity and team working, all skills that are essential in today’s job market.

By pushing arts from the curriculum, we are not equipping our young people with the skills needed to contribute to this ever growing and evolving marketplace and are in danger of leaving a whole generation behind.

We know, for our economy to continue to build in such an adverse climate we need creative thinkers, doers and developers and therefore need an education system that is fit for purpose and offers every child and young person the opportunity to grow and develop across a broad range of subjects, not just those subjects that are ‘deemed worthy’. STEM subjects alone, are not enough to build a successful society, scientists need creativity to push boundaries, technologists need creativity to invent, engineers need creativity to design and mathematicians need creativity to problem-solve; it could also be argued that creativity needs those subjects to truly flourish.

I feel it is time to lobby our government to look more closely at the current education system and the impact it will have on the future of our society, especially if we continue to cut arts and creativity from schools. So many children and young people do not have access to arts and culture in their home lives and are reliant on the education system to support their development and expand their horizons.

“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create." President Barack Obama

Every child and young person has a right to access arts and creativity and we as a society have a duty of care to ensure they all can. To join the fight and for further reading why not go to https://www.baccforthefuture.com/sign-the-petition...