Arts must be secure in curriculum, argues leading head

Art lesson Arts teachers are being encouraged to speak out about the need for cultural education

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Cultural education should have a secure and significant place in the curriculum in England, a leading head teacher will argue on Saturday.

Bernice McCabe, of North London Collegiate School, will say the arts are crucial to a rounded education,

Ms McCabe's comments follow plans to leave arts subjects out of the English baccalaureate for 16-year-olds.

"The future status of your subjects is uncertain," she will tell an audience of arts and music teachers.

"I am convinced that education in art and music is a crucial element in the curricular entitlement of every child," Ms McCabe will say in a speech to the Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI).

She will encourage a weekend seminar on arts education to consider: "Why should we teach creative arts, what should we teach and how should we teach it?"

'Speak now'

"We are in the middle of a lively and important curricular debate... if you speak now your voice will be heard and it may be influential."

Concerns have been raised about the future of cultural education in schools after the government announced plans for the English baccalaureate which will be taught in schools from 2015.

The new qualification will initially be in three core subject areas - English, maths and sciences - but will later be widened to include a language and either history or geography, but no arts subjects.

Start Quote

We teachers have a prime role as champions of this country's cultural heritage and I see it as our moral duty to pass this on to younger generations”

End Quote Bernice McCabe

Eminent figures in the arts world have voiced fears that Britain's creative economy could be destroyed within a generation if arts subjects are left out of the new qualification as schools might no longer want to put resources into teaching them.

Supporters of the change say students will be able to elect to study the arts as "option subjects".

Ms McCabe, course director of the PTI, will say that all that is guaranteed for arts subjects at the moment is that they will continue to be compulsory up to the end of primary school.

"I know that vibrant art and music teaching and extra-curricular enrichment are essential for the rounded education I want every child to experience. As a professional, I do not need any government to tell me that," Ms McCabe will say.

She will point out that industries related to the creative arts currently employ over two million people in the UK and that the arts are an expanding sector in the global market.

"China for instance is investing huge amounts in new art and design colleges and technologically advanced countries like Japan and Sweden retain art in the core curriculum throughout the years of compulsory schooling."

She will argue that "all children should have a profound experience of the arts in terms of cultural history and their own practical experience" and that teachers "should ensure there is as much... rigour in these subjects as, say, the sciences".

"We teachers have a prime role as champions of this country's cultural heritage and I see it as our moral duty to pass this on to younger generations."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The English Baccalaureate does not prevent any school from offering GCSEs in art and design, music, dance and drama. We have been clear that pupils should take the GCSEs that are right for them.

"We are spending £15m over the next three years to ensure that every child has access to the arts."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    You can have as many STEM students as you like but you still need people to design the packaging for their products, to run the marketing and promotion campaigns to make these STEM businesses function. You cannot have one without the other. Our brain is split into two hemispheres, one logical and one more creative (basically) and each needs the other to function fully. Life is no different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Individuals without soul and feeling are destined to become politicians or bankers. Enough already!

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    19. Colin2108
    Most British school children leave school with insufficient knowledge and skills in mathematics, science and the English language.

    And will continue to if people listen to you, imagination is the main ingredient to improving education, science has a direct analogue to art I.e the first Scientist where Artist and Musicians very likely the first Mathematicians as well.

  • Comment number 35.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 34.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    "We are spending £15m over the next three years to ensure that every child has access to the arts."

    £5m per year is a derisory amount. The English baccalaureate is a further step away from the true meaning of education which should be about the rounded development of young people including developing creativity & appreciation of beauty. Not just training the next batch of grey worker drones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    @4. HaveIGotThatWrong
    Times are changing, just like the arts have over the centuries. Media studies and digital arts are more popular because that is the way the masses view art and creativity these days. There is far more opportunity and therefore chance to be creative by keeping up with these changing industries.

    These subjects should be more widespread through the education system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I was never good at art, but I never understood how it was marked. How can you judge how good someone's work is. It's all opinions (like English and RS). I preferred Maths and Science. You're either right or wrong. I dropped it in Year 9. Although, at my school we had to take a technology, so I did food tech. RS was part of the core too, however much all of us complained.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Why is Arts cruclal?
    Let kids chose for themselves but the ability to read, do math is far more important.
    6th form colleges can offer Art degrees for those interested, don't make it part of mainstream schooling.
    Just another unwanted and unneeded cost to the parent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Art and music transend all cultural barriers worldwide,yet they are to be sidelined in education.Art is important,we do not require,glassy eyed drones,repeatedly stamped out of schools,it should be kept as one of the basic tenets of education,along with maths,science,etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Yes let's have some study of culture, but let's at least celebrate British culture in it's completeness, not dumbing down Shakespeare but having young people learn his work as it was written. If it is going to be culture, it must be a true British culture, not multi-cultural, people come to Britain because Britain has something to offer, they must buy into the British culture and respect it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The near-future is a visual information culture from TV to gaming to creative advertising on all media. The teaching profession which is and always will be academically focused, isn't responsive to what's going on now let alone predict what's needed in a few years. Defining achievement through a Bacc isn't going to work either other than for the school's performance tables.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Vital for the health, spiritual well being of the soul of our nation. Today`s young artists will be the inventor ` s, engineers, architects, clothes designers, hairdressers, and teachers of tomorrow, and as a nation of fanatical music loving monsters, does anybody believe we could live without our music or wonderful musicians, so all tastes cannot be satisfied but the many will. expand the arts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I quote a fundamental truth, known by the more wise since ancient times: 'Humans can not live by bread alone'. This truth remains, irrespective of what the banks, CEOs and other employers desire. No desire for economic growth, no desire of the few to own the World, no greed, corruption or lust for money and prestige, can change this truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Creativity is NOT just about art! Creativity means thinking outside the box. The cutting edge of science is far more creative than most art that I have ever seen. Scientists (eg Einstein) think far beyond what is already known. School science could become more investigative & 'creative' & be far more satisfying than making something useless & then working in a burger bar for the rest of your life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    All this obsession with ''Art'' is another example of Brussels wasting all the money we are forced to give them. The European City of Culture thing is an absolute joke. Germany doesn't have any artists, think about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Culture is one of the defining points of humantiy - yes, maths/science et al are of vital import, but so are the arts & humanities if we are to produce rounded individuals who wil fit into our complex society.....

    ....who knows, maybe beefing up the arts curiculum might see a few less people watching those god awful celebrity & reality TV crap.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    If Gove was schoooled in Aberdeen at RG the arts are doomed??
    Adam Smith anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Art is an absolutely crucial subject, as it encourages creative communication which stems from feelings. Leaving out art is tantamount to stealing a person's voice. Time the government got smART...

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Most British school children leave school with insufficient knowledge and skills in mathematics, science and the English language. We need to fix that first. Art is a 'nice to have', not a necessity. Can't cook, can't knit, can't work out basic percentages so take out pay day loans, can't make things, can't understand how things work. You don't make a successful country out of that.


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