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Sadiq Khan: Government’s arts education cuts are a ‘false economy’

London mayor Sadiq Khan
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London mayor Sadiq Khan has joined campaigners in criticising the exclusion of the arts from the English Baccalaureate.

Khan also launched an attack on the impact of government education cuts on creativity in schools, claiming it is a “false economy” to make cutbacks that affect the arts.

Speaking as he hosted an education conference at City Hall, Khan said not including an arts subject as mandatory in EBacc plans “doesn’t make sense”.

“Look at what China is doing, what Singapore is doing… What they are doing is introducing arts into their curriculum at a time when we, according to the EBacc, are taking it out. It doesn’t make sense,” he told The Stage.

“When you speak to successful people in science or tech, they say one of the things that leads to lateral thinking is people doing arts. Not only does it lead to future artists, people in the cultural and creative sectors, but it helps people in different sectors.”

Earlier this month, a report contradicted claims that the EBacc is stifling creativity in schools, however its findings were disputed by campaigners, who continue to fight for better inclusion of the arts.

Khan went on to say that the government must consider the economic impact of culture in the UK, particularly in the capital, and how much it impacts Britain’s place in the world.

Addressing education leaders, Khan claimed that 70% of London’s schools face funding reductions under government proposals.

A recent teacher survey by the Guardian found that one in 10 respondents claimed that art, music or drama has been dropped from their schools due to funding cuts.

Khan added: “I recognise that head teachers and governing bodies in these difficult times are making tough choices and what I’m saying to the government, what I’m saying to schools is, look, this is an important issue for our children and so it’s important that we invest in it.”

At the time of publication, The Stage had not received a response from the Department for Education.

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