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Industry leaders urge government to increase support for arts education in schools

Tamara Rojo. Photo: Jeff Gilbert
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Leading industry figures including English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo and Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird have called on the government to do more to support arts education in schools.

Rojo and Bird are among 59 signatories of an open letter published in the Telegraph, reacting to a recent funding pledge from the government to support arts education initiatives totalling £96 million.

As part of this, the Music and Dance Scheme, which funds pupils from low-income backgrounds to attend specialist music and dance institutions, will receive £30 million a year over the next two years.

Government renews funding for Dance and Drama Awards in arts education pledge

However, in the letter, campaigners argue that more needs to be done. Other signatories include Roundhouse artistic director Marcus Davey and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd managing director Nicholas Allott.

“While we welcome the initiatives announced by Nick Gibb, they do not go far enough. Arts education will only be truly accessible if all schools, at all ages, deliver creative subjects,” the letter states, adding that “this will not be possible” until creative subjects are recognised alongside other core English Baccalaureate subjects.

The EBacc does not currently include the arts and has been subject to much criticism.

“Many schools have stopped offering creative subjects, or no longer give them priority. In 2017, entries for GCSEs in creative subjects fell by 47,000 from the previous year. Current entry rates to creative subjects at Key Stage 4 have fallen to the lowest in a decade,” it adds.

The letter also warns that a decline in entries for Design and Technology will pose challenges for the sector.

“It is damaging to our future economy, as the rise of automation will increasingly require the next generation to be equipped with creative and technical skills,” it adds.

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