According to a survey conducted earlier this year, increasing numbers of secondary schools are cutting back on the creative arts. Fuelled by funding pressures and limited resources, what’s the true cost of cutting creativity from the curriculum?
Of the 1,200 schools that responded to the survey, 90% reported that they have had to make cuts to at least one creative subject. Mainly affecting music, art and drama – but increasingly impacting design and technology – cuts include reduced lesson time, fewer specialist staff and less money spent on facilities. And it’s not just creativity in the classroom that’s suffering. Extra-curricular clubs are also under threat, as well as much-needed subsidies for instrumental music lessons.
While funding pressures certainly play their part, the increased focus on core academic subjects is a key driving force behind the cuts. With Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools supporting this shift, it’s little wonder that the number of students taking an arts subject at GCSE is at its lowest in a decade.
This approach has prompted widespread criticism from both schools and leading arts bodies. John Kampfner, from the Creative Industries Federation, commented: “Arts provision should also be seen as a core subject. There’s nothing soft about subjects that create the talent that creates the fastest growing sector of our economy.”
If Kampfner is right, the true cost of these cuts goes far beyond the school gates. The UK has long been considered a world leader in the arts, but a lack of investment in today’s children could threaten this position for the future.
The cost to students – and their prospective employers – is not to be underestimated either. While many may not pursue a career in the creative industry, they are being deprived of the many transferrable skills gained through the arts. Whether it’s the perseverance or focus required to learn a new instrument, or the collaboration and accountability needed to join a theatre production, creative subjects give children the opportunity to develop, learn and grow beyond the classroom walls.
To find out first-hand what the impact of these changes will be, we spoke to one of Figtree’s drama tutors, Charlotte – and in this month’s blog, we share our top tips for keeping creativity on the curriculum.