Arts squeezed but music looks upbeat

27th June 2003 at 01:00
Primaries find ways to keep creativity alive despite pressures.

Helen Ward reports

THE arts are being squeezed out of the primary curriculum because of the emphasis on literacy and numeracy, a new report has found.

But headteachers believe that music has more time devoted to it than three years ago.

A survey of heads and teachers in 1,023 primaries found they felt under pressure to downgrade the arts. The poll, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research for the Local Government Association, looked at teachers' attitudes towards drama, dance, music and the visual arts.

The visual arts was the art form teachers felt most confident teaching, dance was reported to be taught to almost 90 per cent of all primary classes, mainly in PE lessons, and drama was the subject least likely to be taught in its own right, although widely used in literacy, religious education and history.

Music prompted the most polarised response, with teachers feeling either very confident or very unconfident. At Victoria primary, Leeds, music is included as much as possible. Headteacher Tessa Mason employs four peripatetic teachers to give flute, guitar, piano and percussion lessons.

Mrs Mason said: "We always have interesting music to listen to in assembly.

This term we are listening to Aboriginal music. I choose music which has strong rhythms so pupils come in expecting finger clicking and clapping.

"It is part of the all-round school experience for every child to have access to a creative and artistic education.

"We have found that it is possible to make time for the arts as well as for literacy and numeracy."

The poll found that one-fifth of teachers had not received any training in the arts during their initial teacher education.

And the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority schemes of work, which aim to support teachers, were described as dull and arid.

Among teachers, the arts were valued for developing creative and thinking skills, as well as being a skill in themselves. They were also seen to have a good influence on behaviour and attendance.

Friday, 11

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