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Ed Vaizey defends government’s divisive education policy

Culture minister Ed Vaizey. Photo: Tom Donald Ed Vaizey. Photo: Tom Donald
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Arts minister Ed Vaizey has defended the government’s education policy, despite continued concern from the creative sector over the future of arts in schools.

Vaizey said arts education was “probably the number one issue that is raised” in his discussions with the arts sector, but said he disagreed with arguments that the government was neglecting creative subjects.

“A lot of people in this room feel that the arts don’t get enough attention in schools, particularly following changes to the national curriculum – the English Baccalaureate and [performance measure] Progress 8. I would challenge the arts sector, and I do regularly challenge them on this,” he told an audience at UK Theatre’s annual conference.

Vaizey continued: “I go to a lot of different schools and I say we do make the arts extremely prominent. I think some of the changes, and some of what we might see on the ground, is down to individual head teachers. I know plenty of schools that still offer a rich arts curriculum, despite the curriculum changes. They weren’t designed to remove the arts, or ban the arts from being taught.”

He added: “I’m not saying that it’s all down to the head teacher, but I’m not saying that it’s all down to the government either.”

It comes as the Department for Education moves forward with plans for the EBacc, which comprises a number of compulsory subjects for GCSE students but does not require pupils to take a creative subject.

Earlier this week, the latest exam entry figures recorded a 4% drop in the number of students taking GCSE drama in 2016.

There have also been declining numbers for performing/expressive arts, music, media, film and TV studies, art and design, and design and technology.

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