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Anti-EBacc campaigners lament ‘missed opportunity’ for arts education

Creative Industries Federation chief executive John Kampfner. Photo: Austin C Williams

Education reforms outlined in the government’s recently published white paper [1] have been labelled a “missed opportunity” to put arts at the heart of children’s education.

Creative Industries Federation chief executive John Kampfner and campaigners fighting to see the arts included in the English Baccalaureate have hit out at the reforms, claiming arts subjects are being undermined.

The white paper reinforces the government’s commitment to the EBacc, which includes English, maths, science, history, geography and a foreign language as compulsory subjects.

Kampfner said the arts provided an “ideal way” to help the government achieve its stated aim of developing a child’s “character traits and fundamental British values”, and claimed the EBacc would marginalise the arts.

Kampfner said: “This white paper on education is a missed opportunity. It aims to give every child the chance to reach their full potential and prepare them for the world of work. But the fact that we have skills shortages in the creative industries – the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy – shows there is a disconnect between education and what the workplace requires, and this will do nothing to solve that.”

He added that the focus on the EBacc “will continue to marginalise the arts, design and technology in schools” and could “limit the options of children who might have most to gain from studying creative subjects and accessing the jobs on offer”.

The white paper also outlines plans to make funding available that will allow 25% of secondary schools to extend their school day to include a wider range of activities, including in the arts.

“If the Government truly believes that ‘culture should be an essential part of every child’s education,’ it should place the arts at the heart of its plans and not make them a nice-to-have extra for the 25 per cent of schools set to receive funding to extend their school day,” Kampfner said.

Meanwhile, campaign body Bacc for the Future, which was set up by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said plans to push ahead with the Ebacc in its current form would “devalue music, art, design and other creative subjects in schools”.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the ISM, urged the government to “rethink their costly plans for a new EBacc”.