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ACE calls for Ofsted reform to improve school arts offering

Peter Bazalgette. Photo: Philippa Gedge Photography
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State schools should only be awarded an ‘excellent’ rating from inspection body Ofsted if they have a strong performance arts offering, Arts Council England chairman Peter Bazalgette has said.

The ACE chair said the performing arts was being “marginalised” in state schools, while privately educated students enjoy a “privileged” education and the chance to develop skills in the area.

To remedy this, Bazalgette suggested Ofsted should be much tougher on schools’ ratings.

“I can’t see why 7% to 9% of the population who go to private school should have a fantastic and privileged education in the performing arts, and why it’s being marginalised in state schools. When you see BAFTA [awards] coming around and three of the actors nominated are from Eton you think, great for them, they are wonderful actors, but something odd is going on here. Why is that happening?.”

He added: “If you want a specific example of how this should be addressed, then Ofsted, when it is inspecting schools, should not be allowed to give any school an ‘excellent’ rating unless it has a very good offering in performing and visual arts for its pupils.”

Speaking this week, shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman also suggested Ofsted should be doing more to encourage arts in schools.

Addressing the issue of arts in the education system, Harman claimed that the government had “downgraded” the role of creative subjects and questioned whether Ofsted should be allowed to rate schools as outstanding without them providing an “outstanding cultural education”.