EBac needs to include the arts
I very much welcomed your editorial last week in support of the Bacc for the Future campaign to ensure creative and cultural subjects are part of the new English Baccalaureate.
We are at what I believe to be one of the most urgent and critical moments for the future of creative and cultural education in this country.
It is fast becoming clear that the government’s plans for the EBac will leave creative subjects as the ‘second-class citizens’ of the curriculum, with schools inevitably prioritising those areas included in the certificate. Even the government’s own research on the effect of the EBac has revealed these worrying trends – a staggering 23% of teachers surveyed said drama had been withdrawn as an option, 17% reported the removal of art, followed by design (14%) and textiles (11%).
And with the government now moving at a breakneck speed, it is vital that as a creative and cultural sector we stand together and act urgently.
Voices from across the arts and education are already united in expressing their grave concerns, from organisations such as ourselves, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, to the Globe Theatre, Dance UK, Youth Dance England and UK Music, as well as artists including Julian Lloyd Webber, Arlene Phillips and Tasmin Little. We hope many more will soon join.
Even the Commons education select committee has said the EBac proposals are “ill-conceived” and “incoherent”, while the National Association of Head Teachers commented they “fear the focus on a limited range of subjects will be to the detriment of disciplines like music”.
But there is a solution. The government’s own review of cultural education, led by Darren Henley, strongly recommends adding an additional grouping of rigorous creative and cultural subjects to the EBac.
This solution would ensure a properly balanced education for all pupils, helping them become well rounded and culturally eloquent individuals. It is also a solution that would help meet the government’s own priorities.
During the Olympics, the prime minister applauded a creative sector that contributes £16 billion in exports to our economy. Including creativity and culture in the EBac would help this success continue and grow in the future.
High-quality cultural and creative education has a proven impact on raising standards, too. A recent ten-year study of students in the US evidenced a strong and significant link between high levels of arts participation and higher grades in maths and reading.
So there is still much to play for. The recent proposed addition of computer science to the core EBac subjects shows things can change. Mr Cameron and Mr Gove, if you really want a successful economy and society, now is the time to look at your reform proposals and make sure you really do give us an EBac for the future.
Go easy on the Chocolate, Mark
Mark Shenton argues that actors are exploited (Time for the fringe to pay its way, October 18, page 8). Of course they are. They always have been – I speak as a former actress. However, I am puzzled as to why he uses an unsubsidised house, reliant entirely on its own expertise and the goodwill of the profession and its audience – which it has in spades – to make his case.
He would have benefited from a discussion with somebody who knows how to transfer a play – even if not somebody from the Menier Chocolate Factory. The idea that plays are “transfer-ready” is ridiculous. In a house that seats a maximum of 180, you’re going to have to make adjustments, no matter how much you have borne the possibility of transfer in mind. The set is only one consideration. The Chocolate Factory’s lighting rig cannot be reproduced elsewhere, for obvious reasons.
When you transfer a show, you enter a new world. Marketing is a major issue – don’t go in if you can’t afford to tell people you’re there. Actors, courageous though they are, loathe empty auditoriums.
There are other reasons, too complex to talk about here. Mark has clearly had a very unhappy experience in a London fringe theatre he chooses not to name, where only the artistic director and his management team were able to take a “(more or less) living wage”.
The Chocolate Factory operates with agreements from the unions. If it gets into trouble, the first to lose any financial remuneration is the management team. Actors do not fall over themselves to appear there because of future prospects. They work there because they are aware of the quality of the creative team and the commitment of the management itself. Actors know a hawk from a handsaw. If they’re being screwed, they’ll run as fast as their legs will carry them.
Talk to an actor, Mark, and hear it from the horse’s mouth.
Noel Coward Theatre
In agreement over DJ horror
Congratulations on your insightful editorial on the Jimmy Savile scandal (Leader, October 18, page 6). As we await the findings of various inquiries, it is to the point, and minus tabloid hysteria.
As someone who worked in the PR department of Barnardo’s in the 1970s when Savile, along with other showbusiness personalities, aided fundraising for the children’s charity, I have been horrified by the abuse allegations. At the time, I regarded him as eccentric, but my middle-aged daughters are now demanding I burn my signed copy of his autobiography.
It gives me no pleasure to agree with your comment on the “arrogance” of the BBC, as I have admired its news and drama output – particularly radio – since the 1950s.
But as a listener, and contri-butor, to Radio 4’s Feedback programme since it began in 1979, I can report that it is very rare for a Corporation executive to apologise for anything – the attitude stemming, in my view, from the number of Oxbridge graduates it appoints to key posts, many of whom regard themselves as belonging to an exclusive club that has little to do with the public.
Finally, it seems your readers who chastised me for using the word “fulsome” in relation to your newspaper’s obituary of Savile (Stage Talk, December 15-28, 2011, page 7) may have had a point. The article filled a page and I used the word meaning ‘glowing’ or ‘excessive’.
Michael Walters, of County Antrim, wrote direct to my home, pointing out that ‘ful’ stems from a Saxon word meaning ‘foul’. I am just thankful I am not on Twitter.
David J Savage
Rupert’s no bully, just scrupulous
Flyman needs to be reassured that the supposed “bullying” I received from Rupert Everett was nothing of the sort (Flyman, October 18, page 41). He did not lose his temper with me, but with the management – for not anticipating the need for a skilled wig person, a situation swiftly rectified by the production managers. This was followed by apologies all round, from the star, the management and the humble wardrobe gal.
Mr Everett is actually more of a union rep than a workroom bully, as I’ve also witnessed him address other company issues he thought were unjust – and he gets issues fixed.
Who’s the daddy?
In my interview with Ruthie Henshall (‘Why I deserved a dressing down’, October 25, page 20), focusing on her new book So You Want To Be In Musicals, the impression was somehow given that Daniel Bowling, her youthful co-writer and a distinguished musical director, was also her father.
Ruthie’s father is of course the former newspaper editor David Henshall, who helped them both knock the manuscript into shape. Apologies to all concerned for the confusion.
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