UAL’s Vice-Chancellor Nigel Carrington calls in the Times today for the Government to think again about the place of arts, design and performance subjects in secondary schools.

Leading a group of the UK’s top specialist universities and colleges, Nigel criticises the exclusion of art, design, music, dance and drama from the English Baccalaureate saying “It is something no Government concerned with economic recovery should contemplate”.

See the full letter online (log in required) or read the text below.

You can also find out more about the issues and what you can do from the Bacc For The Future campaign.

Read more and share your views on Nigel’s blog.

Letter to the Times

We are deeply concerned about the long-term consequences of excluding arts and design subjects from the English Baccalaureate.

A survey commissioned by the Department for Education itself confirms the extent to which schools are ceasing to teach arts and design following the introduction of the EBacc as a performance measure in 2010. In a report that makes disturbing reading, 27% of the English secondary school teachers polled said that a subject or course has been withdrawn from their school in 2012 as a result of the EBacc – with creative subjects hardest hit. 23% report that drama and performing arts have been withdrawn, 17% are no longer teaching art, 14% have lost design or design technology and 11% have lost textiles.

With English Baccalaureate Certificates set to replace GCSEs in 2015, the situation can only get worse. EBacc teaching will take up 80% of teaching time, leaving only one day a week for all other subjects. It is inevitable that more and more schools will feel they have little choice but to downgrade or completely withdraw arts and design based subjects if they are to maximise their EBacc performance.

Michael Gove has stated that it is not intended to remove these vital subjects from the curriculum but that is what his Department’s own survey tells us is happening. According to the CBI, the creative and cultural sector contributes 6% of the UK’s GDP, making it our second biggest industry after the financial sector. It employs around 1.5 million people in 106,700 registered businesses and accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s total export of services. Squeezing out arts and design from the school curriculum will cut off the vital pipeline that feeds this major success. It is something no Government concerned with economic recovery should contemplate and it can be avoided by adding the choice of a creative subject to the list of EBacc subjects.

We urge Mr Gove to think again and give creativity its rightful place at the centre of the school curriculum.

  • Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London
  • Dr Paul Thompson, Rector, Royal College of Art
  • Christopher Le Brun, President, Royal Academy of Arts
  • Pat Loughrey, Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Edward Kemp, Director, RADA, and Joint Principal, Conservatoire for Dance and Drama
  • Professor Michael Earley, Principal and Chief Executive, Rose Bruford College of Theatre
  • Professor John Last, Principal, Norwich University College of the Arts
  • Professor Anne Carlisle, Rector and Chief Executive, University College Falmouth
  • Professor Stuart Bartholomew, Principal, The Arts University College at Bournemouth
  • Richard Heatly, Principal, Hereford College of Arts