Heads get a brickbat with their arts hug

THE Scottish Arts Council has produced a hard-hitting and pessimistic assessment of the state of the arts in schools - while admitting that the expressive arts have a more central place in the curriculum than in almost any other Western country.

The council has taken a stronger interest in the role of schools since the arrival of James Boyle as chairman. Mr Boyle told education directors last year that he intended to "hug them to death" in staking a claim for the arts at the heart of the curriculum.

The council, in its submission to the national education debate, has now complained that the school system "does not value the arts as highly as it does other subject areas". It argues that this is evident, not just in the perception of the arts as "non-academic" subjects, but in methods of testing which focus only on logical, linguistic and mathematical skills - ignoring evidence that pupils have "multiple intelligences".

The council is also critical of the way the expressive arts are treated in initial teacher training, with each individual subject allocated just one quarter of the time given to a subject like maths. This leaves probationers "ill-prepared and lacking in confidence as well as skills".

The visiting teacher service is not the best way of delivering the arts, according to the council. It is disappearing altogether in most parts of the country, with drama and dance most at risk.

The council believes that the devaluing of the arts is illustrated by the lack of career opportunities for arts teachers. No director of education and few heads have an arts background; of 1,270 art and design teachers in Scotland, only 16 have risen beyond principal teacher.

Leader, page 10

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