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Labour vows to put creativity at the ‘heart of the curriculum’ with £160m boost for arts education

Tom Watson. Photo: Tom Oxley.
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Labour has vowed to put creativity back at the “heart of the school curriculum” when it is next in government, claiming it plans to ensure “arts are not sidelined” from education.

Its pledge comes as Prince Charles this week convened an event of leading arts figures, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, which aimed to lobby for the arts and its role in education.

Labour said it had deep concerns about the decline of arts subjects in schools and has outlined a series of pledges should it come into power.

These include an arts pupil premium for every primary school in England, worth £160 million a year, to invest in projects that support cultural activities.

It has also vowed to launch a “creative careers advice campaign” to demonstrate to students the range of careers available.

Earlier this year, figures showed the number of GCSE students sitting creative subjects has slipped by 10% on last year, with drama uptake dropping by 5.3% on 2017.

Labour has also calculated whether students eligible for free school meals are more or less likely to take GSCEs and A levels in arts subjects.

It has found that 0.5% of students eligible for free school meals took A-level music in 2016/17, compared with 1.2% of all students.

Similarly, 2.4% of FSM students took A-level drama, compared with 3.3% of all students.

As part of its planned measures, Labour said it would review the English Baccalaureate to make sure arts subjects are not squeezed out.

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said every child should be able to “access the wonder and enjoyment that arts and creative endeavours bring”.

He said that performance measure the EBacc, which does not include arts subjects, was “sidelining vital creative subjects year by year”.

“It will cause us to miss out on potential artists, musicians and actors of the future and it will make the UK’s arts and culture the preserve of the few and even posher than it already is,” he added.

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