Dance sector warns ministers over education reform plans

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Dance leaders have joined forces to speak out against the exclusion of arts from the government’s proposed English baccalaureate reforms.

In an open letter signed by ten executives including Royal Ballet director Kevin O’Hare, Sadler’s Wells chief executive Alistair Spalding and English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo, the dance chiefs said education secretary Michael Gove had ignored the Henley report on cultural learning by failing to include dance in the new curriculum.

They warn that the new EBacc qualifications, which are intended to replace GCSEs from 2015, mean there is a danger that dance will disappear from secondary education. The proposals currently include the core subjects of English, maths, sciences, history, geography and modern foreign languages.

O’Hare said there must be a day-to-day awareness of dance in education: “It’s a way of making sure that dance doesn’t conform to the stereotype that it’s only for certain people. If it continues through from an early age then dance becomes all-inclusive.”

Spalding added: “The Olympic [opening and closing] ceremonies offer a really good example of what investing in dance education can achieve. If it were to be sidelined, young people in the future may not have the same opportunities to participate in dance.”

Meanwhile, the Incorporated Society of Musicians has launched a campaign calling for inclusion of creative subjects, including music, in the EBacc qualification.

Arlene Phillips, who has joined the campaign, said: “It is staggering that the current policy… devalue[s] the creative and cultural skills which underpin such a large part of our economy and lie at the heart of a good education.”

A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the ISM found that, out of more than 2,000 people surveyed, 88% said music and other creative subjects are important or very important to a child’s education.

Bacc for the Future supporters are urging the education select committee to hold an inquiry into the lack of creative subjects in the proposed qualifications. The petition can be accessed at baccforthefuture.com.