David Puttnam: Headteachers shun art in their schools due to worry about exam table rankings

The Independent is has an interview with film producer David Puttnam in which he suggests too many heads are shunning the arts in their schools because they are worried about their exam league table rankings…

Lord Puttnam, a former education adviser to the Blair government, wants education standards watchdog Ofsted to place more weight on arts provision during school inspections.

“I know it doesn’t at the moment,” he said in an interview with the Independent. “ It might just be a footnote to a report: the arts provision is excellent.

“Really, a school ought to be awarded outstanding status if it has excellent performance in the arts and is just achieving decent results in other areas.”

Lord Puttnam added:  “For good or ill, arts provision in schools really relies on the ambition of individual headteachers…

“Good heads look at the evidence of the character and nature of the school and recognise the extraordinary role the arts can play in lifting a school.  Bad heads don’t seem to take the broader vision.”…


How do you respond to Lord Puttnam’s suggestion that schools are shunning the arts because of fears over league tables and lack of ambition?

And what of the suggestion that schools should be awarded outstanding status if its arts provision is excellent, even if everything else is just ‘decent’?

Would parents be happy with that? Would the same apply for other subjects and areas too? 

Please give us your thoughts and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Leadership and Policy.


  1. MikeHaines20

    SchoolsImprove Remember that most schools have ares of excellence and a few weaker subjects – overall labels like ‘excellent’ not helpful?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove He may be right with some schls, not all; obviously his view will be taken seriously with his extensive classroom experience

  3. johnofsurrey

    SchoolsImprove This is the same Lord Puttnam who presided over the disastrous and expensive GTC. Schools shouldn’t be “awarded’ any status.

  4. cwrci

    SchoolsImprove schools should concentrate on academic achievement. You want your kids to be good singers/actors, send them to stagecoach…

  5. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove he’s right abt the importance of the arts, and it is down to individual schools as to what access students have to them

  6. @MikeHaines20 SchoolsImprove Inspections need to be overhauled – just two grades, something like ‘Value for money’ and ‘not value for money.  This would stop the obsessing over ‘Outstanding’.

  7. RaeSnape

    SchoolsImprove I appreciate the point but the term “bad heads” is unfair & unjustified. It’s good HTs doing what DFE & Ofsted demand!

Let us know what you think...