What is the true picture of the arts in schools today?
In their latest news piece, The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) compares a number of different pieces of evidence about the health of the arts in schools that have appeared over the last month. The evidence ranges from surveys from the Association of School and College Leaders and the Guardian Teacher Network, and research from the University of Sussex.
The CLA states that, 'each paints a picture of retrenchment and cuts. But the New Schools Network report on the arts and the EBacc claims that arts uptake is flourishing.'
The article provides interesting and essential reading. We at LEAN believe that statistics mask a greater issue; that every child in a school that has reduced access to an arts subject in yr 9 have a less well rounded education and reduced opportunities to progress in those subjects.
This is demonstarted finding by University of Sussex: Impact of the EBacc on Music research involving over 700 secondary schools in England. They found, 'of all the schools surveyed, this year (2016/17) Music was only compulsory for ‘all Year 9 students’ in 62 percent of schools, despite it being compulsory in the National Curriculum.'
A lack of opportunity and choice for young people to study arts sublects is also inherent in those schools that drop an arts subject at GCSE and/or A level. For those pupils, national statistics on take up of arts subjects at GCSE are irrelevant; they have been denied a chance to continue to study arts to a higher level. This is borne out by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) funding survey 2017 and the Guardian Teacher Survey.
LEAN applauds CLA for analysing and debating the conflicting statistics that contribute to evidence on the health of the arts in schools but also calls for the education and arts sectors to consider the individual child and expose how many schools do not offer the full range of arts subjects at GCSE.