‘Short­sighted’ ap­proach snubs eco­nomic value of arts sub­jects

Yorkshire Post - - SPECIAL REPORT -

A “SHORT­SIGHTED” ap­proach to arts ed­u­ca­tion will im­pact on young peo­ple’s fu­tures, in­de­pen­dent school lead­ers have warned, in the wake of league ta­ble pres­sures and a squeez­ing of the cur­ricu­lum.

Many state schools are forced to pri­ori­tise core sub­jects to de­fend their league ta­ble sta­tus, ar­gues prin­ci­pal of The Gram­mar School at Leeds (GSAL) Sue Woodroofe, while con­cerns over ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing raised re­peat­edly by head­teach­ers within the sec­tor should not be ig­nored.

“We are at risk, just as we are with the teach­ing of mod­ern lan­guages, that largely cre­ative sub­jects are go­ing to be­come a pre­serve of in­de­pen­dent schools,” she said.

“These are rights that all chil­dren should have – not just the priv­i­leged few.”

Ms Woodroofe, prin­ci­pal of one of the coun­try’s largest in­de­pen­dent schools, says a more flex­i­ble ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion is needed to ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits of a var­ied cur­ricu­lum.

Cit­ing a de­cline in up­take of cer­tain sub­jects na­tion­wide, such as de­sign tech­nol­ogy and mu­sic, Ms Woodroofe said the in­tro­duc­tion of the EBacc has seen many schools forced to fo­cus on timetabling core sub­jects in which they will be ranked.

“The Gov­ern­ment line is that they have made mu­sic com­pul­sory to the age of 14,” she said. “But there’s no rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a cre­ative sub­ject in the EBacc at all. That’s got to be mas­sive. If schools are wor­ried about the league ta­bles, of course they are go­ing to make judg­ments.

“As soon as we have league ta­bles, we are set­ting up a hi­er­ar­chy and say­ing that some sub­jects are more im­por­tant than oth­ers. My worry is that is short­sighted. It’s not about look­ing at what the econ­omy needs now, but what it will need in the fu­ture – we are go­ing to need cre­ative thinkers. The tragedy is, I sus­pect, all head­teach­ers want to en­sure their chil­dren have a broad and bal­anced cur­ricu­lum. We need the scaf­fold­ing in place to make this pos­si­ble.”

Arts sub­jects in­spire con­fi­dence and in­de­pen­dent thought, she adds, both crit­i­cal when cre­ative in­dus­tries are the fastest grow­ing part of the econ­omy.

“No child should feel that their pas­sion, their niche, is cut off from them,” she said. “We all want the very best range of op­tions for all chil­dren. That’s what they de­serve.”

Warned cre­ative sub­jects were be­com­ing pre­serve of in­de­pen­dent schools.

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