A drama teacher’s petition to Parliament, criticising the exclusion of the arts from the English Baccalaureate league table measure, has attracted more than 100,000 signatories, meaning it must be considered for parliamentary debate.
Richard Wilson, head of drama at Moulsham High School, in the Essex town of Chelmsford, said that he drew up his petition in response to “the marginalisation and downgrading of the arts and other creative subjects in state education.”
He added: “The EBac will have a dreadful impact on the arts in our schools. But the 100,000 signatures is a testament to how much the arts and culture are loved and valued in the UK.”
'Cruel on children'
Education secretary Nicky Morgan has said that she wants 90 per cent of English 16-year-olds to complete the EBac, comprising GCSEs in English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences, and a language.
In the introduction to his petition, Mr Wilson states: “The exclusion of art, music, drama and other expressive subjects is limiting, short-sighted and cruel.
“Numeracy and literacy are certainly key to future success in life, but it is wrong to say that the arts are not worthy of inclusion in a measure used to grade a school’s success.”
His petition has been supported by the Bacc for the Future campaign. Deborah Annetts, the campaign’s coordinator, said: “The government has underestimated how much concern there is regarding their ill-thought-out policy.”
In its response to the petition, the government has said that it ran a consultation on the EBac at the end of last year and the start of this year. It added that thousands more pupils sat GCSEs in arts subjects in 2015 than in the previous year.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government is committed to improving the life chances of young people, and believes all young people should study the core academic subjects that give them the skills to succeed.
“The EBac forms only part of the school curriculum and all schools must deliver a curriculum that is balanced and broadly based.”