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More than 100 arts figures appeal against ‘deeply damaging’ EBacc

The actor Robert Lindsay and the heads of several major drama schools are among more than 100 arts figures who have written to the prime minister, warning of the effects of the “un-evidenced and deeply damaging” English Baccalaureate.

The letter will be delivered to 10 Downing Street on March 15, and calls on Theresa May to reverse the policy, publish the government’s response to the consultation – which closed more than a year ago – and withdraw the EBacc.

The measure sets out a core curriculum at GCSE level with a group of compulsory subjects, however it does not make a creative subject obligatory.

Conductor Simon Rattle, Equity general secretary Christine Payne, chief executive of Shakespeare’s Globe Neil Constable and the Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird have also put their names to the letter, written by campaigners Bacc for the Future.

It reads: “The Department for Education’s proposed new English Baccalaureate is damaging the quality of the education offered to pupils in England. It is harming the uptake of non-EBacc subjects, most notably creative, artistic and technical subjects.”

“We struggle to see a link between the government’s commitment to the creative industries as a central sector for growth with an education policy (the EBacc) that creates an artificial and false hierarchy of subjects, excluding creative, artistic and technical subjects from counting towards key school accountability measures,” it adds.

It cites figures claiming that the uptake of creative subjects in 2015/16 represented the largest year-on-year decline in a decade, with teacher numbers and teaching hours reducing almost twice as fast in creative subjects than overall.

The letter goes on to describe the EBacc as “no longer relevant” to the UK’s changing position on the world stage.

“Dropping the un-evidenced and deeply damaging EBacc would come with no political or financial cost but with huge gains to the UK’s reputation as a leading creative industries player, our economy and our skills base,” the letter says.

The letter’s signatories also include Tamasha Theatre’s Fin Kennedy, Dave Moutrey, director of Home in Manchester, choreographer Siobhan Davies and English National Opera music director Martyn Brabbins.

Up to 50 activists are expected to gather in Westminster when the letter is delivered to Downing Street.