Comment on arts at Key Stage 4

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on the Education Policy Institute’s (EPI) report Entries to Art Subjects at Key Stage 4.

He said: “It is clear that the EBacc element of Progress 8 is putting the squeeze on arts subjects. We welcome the EPI’s report, which echoes our long-held concerns. The influence of the EBacc works against a broad and balanced curriculum, and it is imperative that it be withdrawn.

“We know that the EBacc policy has reduced the breadth of subjects offered in many secondary schools, limited opportunities for students, and driven many staff out of the teaching profession. Long-term damage has been inflicted on creative and technical subjects excluded from the EBacc. Subjects such as art, music and technology, that are not just crucial for our economic prosperity but also enrich lives, are disappearing from our schools.

“As GCSE entries continue to collapse across these subjects the Government must stop interfering in the school curriculum before it is too late. Many schools have resisted fully implementing the Government’s proposals for the EBacc because they recognise that this narrow range of subjects is not the right choice for every child.

“As recently as July this year, in its latest pronouncement on EBacc, the Government was claiming that ‘entries to arts subjects have not fallen as a result of the introduction of the EBacc’. In the light of the EPI report, this claim must be withdrawn.

“Even more worrying is the report’s suggestion that ‘the pressure on arts subjects could increase further’. This confirms what is being said by National Education Union members across England that decisions are being taken now about staffing, subject availability and curriculum design which could lead schools into a barren decade, where arts subjects go into a long decline. The Government’s arbitrary target, for 75% of students being entered for the EBacc by 2022, will only worsen these pressures.

“No school should be punished for doing the best for their pupils, yet the EBacc policy will penalise schools for offering a broad and balanced curriculum, tailored to the needs and interests of their children. The EBacc was introduced because of ministerial whim and nostalgia. It prevents serious thinking about curriculum design. We must make it a thing of the past.”

ENDS

Press release
21 September 2017