Fresh evidence cite the EBacc as cause of decline of arts in schools

Fresh evidence has been published in the past fortnight citing the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) as the cause of the decline of uptake of creative subjects in schools.

Last week the Durham Commission (a collaboration between Arts Council England and Durham University) on Creativity and Education launched its self-titled report, setting out a set of recommendations with a long-term vision for promoting creativity in education. This week, the CBI has released their 'Centre Stage' report which demonstrates the economic and cultural value of the UK’s creative industries.

Both reports share concerns about the decline of creative subjects including art and design, dance, drama and music within our schools. This has been caused by the introduction of the EBacc in secondary education. The CBI report in particular recommends that 'the government should broaden the EBacc to include a creative subject’, while Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England called for a change in education policy, noting the causal link between the EBacc and fall in arts subjects.

Lord Storey, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education) also called on the government to bring forward changes to the EBacc in a debate on 22 October in the House of Lords. He noted that by narrowing the curriculum creative subjects in our schools have declined while they have flourished in the private schools sector.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and Founder of the Bacc for the Future campaign said:

‘This wealth of new evidence adds to the compelling body of evidence demonstrating the adverse impact of the EBacc in our schools. The EBacc is a clearly failing policy – it was introduced to improve our standing in the PISA tables for Maths English and Science.

As Lord Storey noted in his House of Lords debate, since the reforms were introduced our standing in the PISA tables has actually dropped. So the EBacc has not done what it was supposed to do. But it is well on the way on destroying creative subjects in our schools.

The British Council has also reported how the UK has been placed second in the Portland chart Soft Power 30. While Brexit is ‘inevitably seen as the reason for the UK’s apparent decline’ in the ranking, the EBacc is still putting the creative industries at risk. These lucrative industries contribute £101.5billion a year to the economy, generate a huge amount of soft power and influence, and are globally envied. But our British success story will continue to be undermined if the EBacc continues to harm the pipeline of talent supplying these industries.

We urge the Government to take the advice of these policy recommendations and either extend the EBacc to include arts subjects including music, or scrap it altogether.’