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'Dramatic decline' in quantity and quality of arts in primaries

Teachers with arts responsibilities are 'forced to fight for every penny' say researchers

Arts education_editorial

Teachers with arts responsibilities are 'forced to fight for every penny' say researchers

More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of primary teachers say there is less arts education now than in 2010, new research has revealed.

The report Primary Colours from the Fabian Society also found that almost half (49 per cent) felt the quality of arts provision had worsened over the same period.

“There has been a dramatic decline in both the quantity and quality of arts education in primary schools in England,” the report concludes.

Researchers say that teachers with responsibility for the arts are “forced to fight for every penny of funding”.

One teacher told the researchers: “There is little money in school for PVA glue, paper and clay. I have to ration my resources extremely tightly and it limits what I can offer. For years we’ve only had a dirty, broken and worn out box of mismatched musical instruments.”

The report calls for schools to have a ringfenced "arts premium" worth £150 million a year, free music or singing lessons for three years for every primary school child who wishes to learn and for Ofsted to amend its guidelines to ensure that no school is judged outstanding unless it has a high-quality arts education.

Other findings include:

  • A majority (56 per cent) of teachers felt they did not have enough resources or support to deliver high-quality arts lessons.
  • Only 37 per cent of teachers felt their school gave the right amount of emphasis to the arts, with 59 per cent saying that their school did not value the arts enough.
  • 58 per cent of teachers believed there were fewer arts-based school trips compared to 2010

The report is based on a survey of 348 primary school teachers in England, carried out by YouGov and a separate survey of 53 arts providers who work with schools, carried out by the Fabian Society.

The report points out that the national curriculum “devotes more pages to stating what children should be able to spell in Year 1 than to arts education as a whole”, and calls for arts to be given a greater priority in the national curriculum.

The government today announced that it had brought together an expert panel to look at producing a model music curriculum which is due to be published in the summer.

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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