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Applause from three-quarters

In response to the leading article "Start With Music" (TES, May 31), I am sure many arts practitioners and their supporters will welcome the research findings of Martin Gardiner et al that the study of arts subjects helps student motivation and forces mental "stretching" in other areas of learning.

There have been many reports and studies which have supported the use of the arts as an essential part of a balanced curriculum. Not least the 1988 Education Reform Act.

The TES has always been a powerful advocate of the arts, but I am concerned at the leading article's reading of the findings of the National Foundation for Educational Research's report Arts in Their View, that one in four of those sampled could not remember a single enjoyable valued arts experience. That still means that 75 per cent could remember such an experience. Such interpretations are worthy of the Chris Woodhead school of statistical readings.

Nicholas Tate, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, is more at home with culture, providing it is rooted in Greece, Rome and Christianity. Such a cultural base will do nothing to help young people of today; and as you rightly suggest, the puritan tangle of pleasure=leisure=industry.

The power of the arts to "motivate and stretch" was demonstrated for me by a student who had under-achieved at GCSE. She went on to be deputy head girl; took responsibility for costume with our largest school production; and still gained two As and a B at A-level.

Will there be any research into the effectiveness of the growing compulsory elements of key stage 4, particularly science, technology and modern languages? If not, why not?

A SPENCE Winchmore School, Laburnum Grove London N21

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