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Call for arts to take centre stage

Headteachers have warned the Government not to forget the importance of the arts in schools in their quest to improve pupils' academic achievement.

They argued for a central role for the arts - music, dance, drama, literature, graphic and plastic art - in the curriculum and a guarantee that all pupils would have access to them throughout their education.

"Such a commitment would imply giving the arts equal status with subjects like maths, science and technology," said the National Association of Head Teachers.

It called on the Government to ensure that initial teacher training promoted an understanding and appreciation of the value of the arts as well as good quality arts teaching and urged ministers to provide cash in its capital building programme for the development and improvement of arts facilities in schools.

Office for Standards in Education inspections have revealed less time and money is being spent on the arts in schools and the number of specialist arts teachers is falling. There is also a perceived marginalisation of the arts within the national curriculum.

The NAHT argues: "While the arts are intrinsically worthwhile as areas of study and participation, there are sound economic and social justifications for the arts in the curriculum."

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