How Did We Get Here?: The Dangers of Sidelining Creative Education

Feb 4, 2019

It seems we have drifted into a world where ongoing funding for all schools and colleges has been replaced by initiatives, projects and schemes that make great announcements but do little to deal with real issues of entitlement and the unfairness of who gets good arts education” says Pauline Tambling, trustee of the Roundhouse, in a take-no-prisoners Arts Professional article on how the “over-hyping of projects, initiatives and schemes really grates at a time when creative education in schools is being systematically sidelined.”

“It shouldn’t be news that there is government funding for actors and singers to study their craft” says Tambling, “it should be normal. The press release announcing the new funding lists a number of other deserving beneficiaries of the cash, but together they take only crumbs.

All this does is outsource the music education that used to be part and parcel of schools’ thinking to the hubs and to the occasional wonderful projects funded by the UK arts councils and grant-making trusts. In the 1990s and 2000s we understood that funded arts projects could support, enhance and inspire by bringing artists into schools and communities – but not without a bedrock of curriculum work in schools.”

Tambling’s assertion that these projects and schemes might “do little to deal with real issues of entitlement and the unfairness of who gets good arts education” hints at another large issue with arts education, which was also recently covered in Arts Professional by Liz Hill.

In an Arts Professional exclusive, new figures have confirmed that students living in areas of highest deprivation and those studying in low-attaining schools are significantly less likely than others to be given the opportunity to take A levels in arts subjects.

“The disparity in music is the highest of all. While A levels in music are provided by over two-thirds of schools (71%) attended by students with the highest academic performance, the same is true of only 12% of schools that are home to the least academically successful students.”

It is clearer than ever that creative subjects are being sidelined, and budgets squeezed. It is therefore so necessary that we speak up, make our voices heard and use Ofsted’s new shift to focusing on a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum as a method to provide arts education to pupils of all backgrounds, and to emphasise how such subjects should help form the bedrock of education.

To read Pauline Tambling’s full ‘How did we get here?’ article, click here.
To read Liz Hill’s full ‘Music A Level denied to ever more students’ article, click here.