EBacc to return to secondary education

The EBacc, or English Baccalaureate, is due to make a return this September after it was scrapped in 2013 to make way for ‘a more balanced and meaningful accountability system,’ as previously proposed by Michael Gove, former Secretary of State for Education.

The EBacc is set to affect students nationwide

The EBacc is set to affect students nationwide

Intended to further control compulsory GCSE subjects in state secondary schools, the plan features an alarming lack of acknowledgement of the arts. Previously a method for ranking schools on a league table depending on pupil merit in ‘core academic subjects’ (maths, English, sciences, languages, and history or geography), the EBacc excludes arts subjects altogether, signifying that the Department for Education does not consider them reliable indicators of a good education.

Despite an increase in students taking arts subjects since the plan was overturned two years ago, the Department for Education has returned to introducing a compulsory list of GCSE subjects, with current Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan confirming that ‘every child starting in year 7 in September will be expected to study core academic subjects that make up the EBacc right up to GCSE.’ This is in spite of Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers describing the EBacc as a ‘narrow vision for education which constricts the curriculum and fails to meet the needs and aspirations of many young people.’

Following the announcement, cross-sector campaign Bacc for the Future is fighting to make the Department for Education rethink its motives and ensure that creative subjects are equally accountable in school rankings. They argue that there will be less encouragement and support around the arts, ultimately having a knock-on effect on the creative industries, which contribute £76.9bn to the UK economy every year.

The EBacc is forseen to cause a drop in students taking arts subjects

The EBacc is forseen to cause a drop in students taking arts subjects

Bacc for the Future is supported by a range of arts figureheads, including Cog Design founder Michael Smith, who said that the ‘marginalisation of arts subjects indicates a lack of understanding of their vital role in our education ecology.’ Similarly, Neil Constable, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s Globe said: ‘The Government proudly cites the UK creative industries as world leaders, one of the fastest growing sectors, providing £8.8m an hour to our economy. Yet it proposes to impose the EBacc on schools which will starve the industry of fresh talent, stunt the growth of our young people and make us all the poorer.’

The campaign aims to raise awareness surrounding the importance of arts-based subjects, including music, drama and art. Indeed, as pointed out by Rachel Tackley, Director of the English Touring Theatre: ‘Sophocles said: “Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.”’

Green room: Will the reforms to GCSE and A-level drama benefit students?

The Department for Education announced in February the subject contents for GCSE, AS and A-level drama to be taught from 2016, so in our Summer 2 issue of Teaching Drama, out now, we’re asking our panellists:

 

What is your view? Vote in our poll and comment below. Read the views of our panellists in Summer 2 2014-15, where the issue also includes a ‘Curriculum focus’ column, outlining a basic summary of the guidelines on which exam boards are currently finalising their new specifications.

Number of drama and arts teachers falling in state schools

A report into the value of culture to contemporary British society has revealed that since 2010, there has been an 8% decline in the number of state school drama teachers, and a 4% decline in hours taught for the subject.

The year-long project, led by the University of Warwick, has resulted in the publication of Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth. Other key findings in the report include:

  • Alongside the decline of specialist drama teachers in England’s state schools, other creative subjects have also been affected: the number of design and technology teachers, as well as the number of hours taught, has fallen by 11%; and art and design teachers have reduced by 4% with a decline of 6% in teaching hours.
  • Young people from low-income families are least likely to engage with and appreciate the arts as part of the school curriculum or their home life; and least likely to be employed in the cultural and creative industries.
  • The costs related to engaging in extracurricular activities mean low-income families are often excluded from creative and cultural opportunities: 22% of parents in the higher social groups pay £500+ a year on extracurricular activities compared to 10% of parents in middle and lower groups.
Warwick

The report led by Warwick University is the result of a year-long project

The report makes a number of recommendations, several of which are aimed at Ofsted: the organisation should not award schools with an ‘outstanding’ status without evidence of a strong cultural and creative education, and should ensure – alongside the Department for Education – that young people up to the age of 16 receive a cultural education in order to encourage life-long engagement with the arts. They also recommend that Ofsted encourage Arts Council England’s aim to have 50% of schools achieving an ArtsMark award.

Other recommendations made include ensuring there is adequate careers advice available to those interested in pursuing a career in the cultural and creative industries, and the creation, by the government, of an arts and culture pupil premium fund and a national creative apprenticeship ascheme.

Commission member and Warwick education researcher Professor Jonothan Neelands said: ‘We are concerned that the educational system as a whole is not focusing on the future needs of the cultural and creative industries and the broader needs of a creative and successful UK. This needs to be addressed across our schools. However, we are particularly concerned that children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to experience culture as part of their home education.

‘Without educational intervention we are in danger of allowing a two-tier creative and cultural ecosystem in which the most advantaged in social and economic terms are also the most advantaged in benefitting economically, socially and personally from the full range of experiences and value in that prevailing system.’

Vikki Heywood, chair of the Warwick commission report, said: ‘The key message from this report is that the government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.’

Read the full report at www2.warwick.ac.uk/research/warwickcommission/futureculture/finalreport

Central announces recruitment suspension to Initial Teacher Training courses

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama have announced that recruitment to their Initial Teacher Training courses has been suspended, affecting the school’s PGCE course and participation in the Department for Education’s Schools Direct scheme.

Students currently studying on these courses will be unaffected by the changes. Central’s Post Graduate Certificate Applied Theatre with Young People, run in association with the National Theatre, will be unaffected.

In a statement on their website, Central said: ‘This decision has been triggered by the continuing changes in government policy in this area and the practical effects of those changes on Central.

‘Central has a long and proud history in the field of teacher training. It remains institutionally committed to drama education and to the equipping of new generations of educators with the skills to provide high quality arts education. The school will take forward this commitment in these difficult times by continuing to offer different forms of provision appropriate to the professional development of specialist teachers. So too it will seek to create other learning opportunities for schools. The school, together with its partners, will continue to campaign vigorously for security in teacher training provision in our specialist area.’

School building guidelines incorporate drama spaces for the first time

Building guidelines to include requirements for drama spaces

For the first time, the department for education has included performance and rehearsal spaces within building guidelines for both primary and secondary schools.

The guidelines recommend that primary schools have a studio for rehearsals and a hall space capable of hosting performances. They also state that secondary schools should include a studio space, equipped with a storage area for performance materials such as prop, set and costumes. The guidelines will also endorse that the studio is located near to a multi-functioning hall with moveable seating for audiences.

The government organisation Education Funding Agency developed the new guidelines in consultation with the Theatres Trust. The recommendations will be used by building contractors developing new or existing schools.

Director of the Theatres Trust Mhora Samuel told the The Stage: ‘We need good facilities to be able to teach drama, but it goes far beyond teaching – it’s about placing theatre experiences at the heart of every child in school.’

The news comes as drama faces an uncertain future in schools when its place in the primary curriculum was thrown into doubt with its exclusion from the primary draft.

CULTURAL EDUCATION REPORT LEADS TO £15 MILLION INVESTMENT FROM GOVERNMENT

Recommendations have been made in order to improve the state of England’s cultural learning after a report, undertaken by Classic FM’s managing director Darren Henley, found that ‘patchiness in provision of cultural education [remains] across England’.

The report suggested that, to improve cultural learning, students should study arts subjects up until the age of 16. Henley has said that cultural education in England could become ‘the envy of the world’ if the government are to take his recommendations on board. The Department for Education have now confirmed that they will invest over £15 million over the next three years in order to develop Henley’s ideas.

The coalition government’s backing of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which includes no studying of arts subjects, has been cited as one of reasons behind the problems in cultural education. Henley has suggested that there should be a ‘creation of a sixth grouping of subjects included in the EBacc, which would include cultural education subjects such as art and design, dance, drama, design technology, film studies and music’.

It was revealed today that many of the report’s recommendations have already been set in motion. There are plans for an academy for student film-makers, headed by the British Film Institute, and the creation of a national youth dance company which will be funded by the DofE and the Arts Council.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: ‘Britain has forged a well-deserved reputation in popular culture – in film, dance, music and art. But I want to introduce more children to high culture. Cultural education must not be a closed shop for poorer students. I want to end any suggestion that high culture is only for the privileged few.’

For more information and to view the report in full, visit http://www.education.gov.uk