Don't penalise arts for the neglect of science

16th June 1995 at 01:00
John A Hanson (TES, June 2) belies his scientific training with an emotional attack on the recent Royal Society of Arts report and proposals (TES, June 2) and arts teaching in general. In doing so, he has re-opened the sciencetechnology versus the arts debate, choosing to hide behind Sir Ron Dearing's recommendations.

Schools are responsible for pupils' cultural and aesthetic development, which would seem to imply an entitlement to an arts education, none of which is compulsory beyond key stage 3. With the statutory core curriculum and the requirement for pupils to choose a balanced options programme, KS4 leaves them with very little "choice". This is a real concern for pupils and their parents.

I am one head of drama who responded to Sir Ron's invitation to the consultation process on key stage 4, only too aware, that the model he proposed in the pages of The TES was still in place after the consultations.

I share John Hanson's concern for the poor funding of schemes to bring scientistsengineers into schools, but his anger needs to be aimed at those responsible; successive governments. He will be equally concerned at the travesty of the closing of Molecule Theatre Company, the science-based company, because of lack of sponsorship or Government support.

The lamentable John Patten also complained of an anti-science bias when students chose arts rather than science courses in higher education. His suggestion that students should take up the spare science places denies them freedom of choice and equality of opportunity.

John Hanson asserts that technology teachers are multi-disciplinarians, whereas arts teachers are one-dimensional. He really does need to read the RSA report on that issue and it would appear that he has never been involved in a school production. Had he done so, he would be aware of the knowledge drama teachers need of craft, design and technology to mount a successful production.

The RSA proposal for 10 per cent of curriculum time allocated to the expressive arts at KS4 is a commendable objective, providing those involved in such courses had opted to be so. There would be many benefits not only for those pupils and staff involved, but also for the school itself, a growing bank of resources and experience.

I shall look forward to John Hanson's report on the benefits of compulsory science at KS4, and I am willing to accept that he is not anti-arts, that his sensationalist language some what tongue-in-cheek. The trouble is, whose cheek?

A SPENCE

7 Ripon Road London N7

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