Creativity and the arts are being “squeezed out” of schools, with pupils from low-income families being hardest hit, according to a major report.
A commission led by the University of Warwick to examine the value of culture in British society warns that the most deprived students are missing out on opportunities in the creative industries.
The report, drawn up by academics and cultural leaders, calls for evidence of “excellent cultural and creative education” to be a prerequisite for schools to be graded outstanding by Ofsted, as well as a dedicated arts and culture pupil premium similar to the £450 million physical education premium currently on offer.
The commission also calls on Ofsted and the Department for Education to back the Arts Council England’s target of helping at least 50 per cent of schools achieve an ArtsMark award to recognise high quality arts provision, and recommends that an arts or media subject should be included in the English Baccalaureate performance measure.
Commission member Jonothan Neelands, professor of creative education at Warwick Business School, warned that schools were in danger of creating a “two-tier creative and cultural ecosystem”.
“We are concerned that the educational system as a whole is not focusing on the future needs of the cultural and creative industries and the broader needs of a creative and successful UK,” he said.
“This needs to be addressed across our schools. However, we are particularly concerned that children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to be employed and succeed in the cultural and creative industries, engage with and appreciate the arts and heritage in the curriculum [or] experience culture as part of their home education.”
The report’s findings were backed by broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg. “In my view, investment in the creative arts in schools is the key to the lives of so many people in this country, and to the richer life of the country itself,” he said.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “As part of our plan for education we are ensuring all pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum which will prepare them for life in modern Britain – the arts are a key part of this.
“We are clear that arts education should be every bit as rigorous as the rest of the school curriculum, and we have strengthened the national curriculum in these subjects and reformed the music and art GCSEs and A levels to make sure this is the case."
The DfE is providing £109 million to support music, art and cultural education projects in schools for 2015-16, the spokeswoman added.
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