Vested interests of the 'arts mafia' should be noted

2nd June 1995 at 01:00
I see from the article "Arts teaching needs more time says RSA" (TES, May 19) that the arts mafia are again trying to rewrite the national curriculum for their own benefit.

I would like to refute some of the points in the article about Rick Rogers's report Guaranteeing an Entitlement to the Arts in Schools.

"The arts" are not "in principle equal in status to other curriculum subjects". Dearing established with much consultation that core subjects - English, maths, science, RE and PE - are at the heart of every school curriculum and "the arts" must take their place with the other subjects.

It does education no good when lobby groups such as the RSA try to promote vested interests at the expense of other areas of the curriculum. Local education authorities have abolished most adviser and advisory posts. The arts have got off lightly compared to most other curriculum areas. In my experience, most advisory teachers for the arts and theatre-in-education work were paid ridiculously high salaries for very little activity. I would prefer this money to be spent on keeping class sizes down.

Much less than half of LEAs fund schemes to put scientists and engineers into schools. This work in science and engineering is funded by charity and industry.

Technology is a multi-disciplinary subject and all teachers of technology are qualified both as teachers and in one or more of the technology subjects.

However, I have met no music teachers qualified in ceramics and no fine art teachers trained in drama .

If a quarter of schools "require" students to follow at least one arts subject at key stage 4 they are being overly prescriptive, as this is not a compulsory part of the national curriculum. This severely limits parents' and pupils' choice to take, say, a second modern language or a second humanity.

I am no more anti-arts than any other science teacher but I am incensed when pressure groups try to upset the uneasy and hard-won balance we now have in the secondary curriculum to promote their own vested interests.

JOHN A HANSON

4 Mallard Avenue Wakefield West Yorkshire

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