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 78.

    I'm not sure that arts subjects should be compulsory post-14 (not everyone enjoys, nor has an aptitude for them) but then I'd say the same for PE and nowadays that's considered heresy in a culture obsessed with forcing the fat kids to run around in the cold as 'punishment' for existing. Moreover, I'd much rather kids be taught art and music than indoctrinated to hate and fear their 'obese' peers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    @67. INDEPENTE

    Well at least nobody can fault your musical tastes :tup:

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    If we are to develop and nurture a well balanced and well informed youngsters then the arts need to be covered. I was never very good at art at school but saw the importance of it in developing a cultural interest in the world around you. Sadly a lot of whats in the national curriculum does disadvantage pupils who are not academically minded. Kids need to be creative, art develops that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The Arts are crucial and should be a cornerstone of education, along with reading, writing, intermediate mathematics, science, history, etc. The point of primary and secondary education is to give children the skills they need for life, and enable them to choose their future path. Without a basic grounding in all areas, children will be able to make an educated decision about their life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Come On! You know education for the masses needs to be Reading. Riting Rithmetic and Religion. Where's the need for music and art?
    Oh IT is needed today to but I cant find an R word for it and its not on the list for the 21st century apparently..

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    63. Bill Walker

    I don't think my short spell doing Latin and Greek at school was wasted

    Their is quite a strong argument for the reintroduction of Latin and Greek people who have mastered it say it has helped them immensely.
    But as for Mr Grove he was bound to get something right eventually. 1/2 A star for effort. E on ability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I am a visual kinesthetic learner, education needs to embrace the learning styles of all individuals in order to give them a rounded education. Art and Music can be included in all subjects, form and beauty is seen in science. If the "educationalists" were more creative themselves, they would understand that and realise that you cannot avoid art!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    If arts are optional they will keep on being the preserve of the rich, and Britain will miss out on much talent that will go undiscovered. I recently had the opportunity to see the In Harmony children perform at the Southbank Centre and I was amazed at the impact the arts can have on children from underprivileged backgrounds. Arts education must be guaranteed for all children in Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Art is good for the brain. You can tell when you compare the yay- and the naysayers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Art and the Classics are very much needed its relaxation Music to soothe the soul . if life was all work and maths it would be unbearable , we used to have Art classes, Music (at which i was useless ) and my maths needed looking at. sewing , cooking , History and geography I loved, and this was just a secondry Modern as they called it in the early 50`s, oh and sport, well rounded, I loved school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I would agree cultural education is important, to the pc brigade who have sold this country out , it important so they can sell Britain out for a cheaper price. To those of us who love Britain, you need to know your enemy and to be able to see their weaknesses. Do not fool yourself there are people in Britain who will blow up buses and kill women and children to acheive their aims.

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Also what really annoys me is how our children are taught. A lot of teachers fail to be inspirational and have little idea how to motivate children to learn. Any subject can be exciting to engage with but if the educators themselves have lost interest in their profession, children will by nature pick the fun subjects, where there is a sense of play involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    You can't say this government doesn't encourage art, look at the amount of people drawing the dole!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    We need to give children a balanced rounded education that prepares them for the future. Very few people will be able to earn their living by relying on the arts and children need to understand this. My son wanted to be a footballer then a musician but soon realised while these both were fine hobbies they would not support him. He is now at uni studying a science but he still enjoys his hobbies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I don't think my short spell doing Latin and Greek at school was wasted. Most modern European language vocabularies have a significant proportion of these words, or derivatives. Before the advent of the present pictograms, my wife was pleased when taken short in Greece to be directed by me to the κυρίες (ladies)

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    what do you expect with tories in power they think culture is not for plebs they are only factory fodder and are far too thick to appreciate the arts. And this from the group who think its great to torture and murder animals for fun

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    amo, amas, amat, amamis, amatis, amant.

    Most useful thing I learnt at school NOT
    Enhanced my life chances no end NOT
    Good for conversation NOT

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    28. Melli
    Yes let's have some study of culture, but let's celebrate British culture in its 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

    Totally agree INDEPENTE Wasn't Othello the first Multi Cultural Playing circa 1600 century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    54.Il Pirata
    Education should be about producing complete, rounded individuals

    Take note the word in the song:

    George Benson: Greatest love of all

    I believe the children are our future
    Teach them well and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they possess inside
    Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
    Let the children's laughter remind us of how it use to be


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