MPs demand more action from government to stem the ‘downgrading’ of arts in schools

MPs have called on the government to take more responsibility to ensure schools provide the arts as part of a “broad and balanced curriculum”, rather than simply expecting them to do so. The Stage reports.

In a new report that advocates for the inclusion of culture in the English Baccalaureate, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee – made up of cross-party MPs – also urged the government to come up with a “clear explanation” as to why it has rejected concerns that arts uptake in schools is declining, when so many organisations are arguing the opposite.

The committee said it was deeply concerned by the evidence it had heard from the sector surrounding the “downgrading” of arts in schools and that the government should take more action to make sure that children are getting access to culture in their education.

The committee said arts education was the area “where there was the largest gap between government’s policy intentions… and the lived experience of organisations submitting evidence”.

“This gap urgently needs to be closed, including through a clear explanation from the DfE and the DCMS of the figures on cultural education that they hold, and why these seem to differ from those used by cultural organisations concerned about arts education,” the committee said.

The government has maintained that uptake of arts GCSEs in schools has not suffered since the introduction of the EBacc, with the minister for schools standards, Nick Gibb, arguing that figures have remained “broadly stable”.

This is despite figures from arts education campaigners claiming there has been a 35% decline in the uptake of arts subjects at GCSE between 2010 and 2018. This includes a 10% decrease between 2017 and 2018 alone, according to the Cultural Learning Alliance.

Read more MPs demand more action from government to stem the ‘downgrading’ of arts in schools 

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