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‘If arts education is good enough for Prince George, it’s good enough for all’ – Arts Council chief

Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley. Photo: Philippa Gedge
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Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley has called for all schoolchildren to be taught creative subjects, claiming anything that is “good enough for the future King of England… should be good enough for every child”.

Henley was referring to the school attended by Prince George, which he claimed states on its website that every child from the age of three is taught drama, dance and music by specialist teachers.

“If it’s good enough for the future king of England, it should be good enough for every child in every school in this country,” Henley said.

He has been joined by industry bodies Equity and the Musicians’ Union in urging the government to prioritise arts education in schools.

All were giving evidence to a new inquiry, headed by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, that is looking into the social impact of participation in culture and sport.

Henley, giving oral evidence, said ACE did not have enough money to ensure every child was taught a creative subject but added: “We will always go on talking about it, and we will always go on making the interventions when we can.”

Meanwhile, the MU highlighted recent research that showed 50% of children at independent schools were taught music, compared with just 15% at state schools.

“Not only should all children participate in classroom music teaching, but they should also all have the opportunity to learn an instrument at the hands of a qualified instrumental teacher,” it said.

In a written response, Equity reiterated its belief that all children should have the opportunity to “experience drama as a subject in its own right”, taught by teachers trained in drama.

It said “many of the cultural misconceptions about a career in the arts can be confronted” if children were taught drama early on in their education.

Equity also said that creative subjects can improve a child’s attainment in literacy and numeracy across the curriculum.

Elsewhere in its submissions, Equity called for sector-specific advice for the entertainment union on the National Living Wage. It accused the government of a “failure to promote and enforce NLW compliance”.

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