For me, I’ve always loved the Arts in schools. It has given me a chance to perform and express myself in other ways apart from writing. My earliest memories from primary school were art projects I participated in and school plays that I performed in; my favourite subjects in secondary was always the Arts. But slowly, over the years, I’ve seen more headlines about the lack of Arts in schools and I’ve felt the focus on these subjects begin to fade. There is no longer the push for students to participate in Arts subjects instead they want us sitting behind desks doing the academic subjects. Is this the future? Are the Arts subjects going to become extinct from our curriculums altogether?
Yes, if the government continues to focus on the traditional academic subjects. In 2010, the government introduced the English Baccalaureate which shifted secondary schools to push students to follow this pathway of picking traditional academic subjects at GCSEs. Their aim is to get 90% of students taking this pathway by 2025. But this has been directly linked to the decrease in the uptake of creative subjects. Since 2014, there has been a decline of 28.1% in the uptake of creative subjects at GCSE level. Unless the government broaden their focus to both Ebacc and Creative subjects, this is only going to continue.
However, the Ofsted Chief, Amanda Spielman, said academic subjects were the best route to higher-level study, particularly for working-class children. "The worst thing that can happen to a working-class child is they don't get the full education to 16 that leaves them with options that could take them to university or vocational education," said Ms Spielman. While it is good that they want the best for every child, picking an Arts subjects isn’t ruling out that child’s future. In the UK, the creative industry is huge and one in eleven of us work in this industry (before the global pandemic). Are we making children believe that they can’t go into the creative industries in the future?
Arts subjects are also struggling due to cuts in their funding. In the county that I live in (Northamptonshire), there was a reduction of £244 per pupil in the last budget. With the focus now on Ebacc subjects, the Arts is often one of the first to go. From speaking to people, I’ve heard about many schools where it is the Arts that were cut, and opportunities were taken away from pupils. Like we heard about before, the trend is likely to continue as a BBC survey found that 3 in 10 schools feared they were going to be dropping an Arts subject. Now this survey was only completed by 1200 schools and across the UK there is a total of 24, 360 (government website). If the BBC survey is correct for the entire country, then that’s means that 7,308 schools fear they are going to be dropping an Arts subject. Now that would affect thousands, maybe even millions of pupils.
While all this may just seem like a school-related issue, it should viewed as a lot more than that. If students aren’t being exposed to the Arts while in school, then they may struggle or not want to go on into the creative industries in the future when they have the talent to do so. Before the lockdown, the government found that the UK’s creative industries were contributing £13 million an hour and the sector was growing 5 times faster than the national economy. Without young people taking these jobs, this sector would start to shrink, and we would lose out economically. We wouldn’t just lose out economically though, the creative industries have a huge impact socially to as it includes music, theatre, film, and art. When we think about it, these have a huge impact on our daily lives as they can inspire us and also educate us. We don’t want to lose it.
I also, spoke to teachers about their views on the Arts as working in a school they are central to this issue. There was a collective agreement that the Arts is important to help create a rounded young person and it deserves a place in our curriculum. If our educators, say this, and can see the importance of Arts in schools, why should it be erased? The Arts is important to every student’s education and the government shouldn’t forget about it.
The government’s focus on a subject impacts everything: schools pushing students to take it, the overall uptake and how much funding it gets. We can’t let the Arts slip away when they are equally important as any other subject.