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Schools should only be ranked as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted if their arts offering is strong – education charity

Under the EBacc, students are not required to study arts subjects at GCSE. Photo: Shutterstock Under the EBacc, students are not required to study arts subjects at GCSE. Photo: Shutterstock
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Schools should only be awarded an “outstanding” rating by Ofsted if they can demonstrate excellence in teaching creative subjects alongside academic ones, a leading education charity has claimed.

The report is produced by the Edge Foundation, which aims to shape the future of education in the UK, and its calls echo those of bodies such as Arts Council England, which has previously said schools should only be awarded an “excellent” rating if they have a strong arts offering.

It raises concerns about the decline in schoolchildren taking GCSEs in creative subjects, claiming entries have fallen by 77,000 – 20% – since 2010.

It also highlights research from Ofsted itself, which shows that creative subjects are effective at teaching skills such as collaboration, communication and decision making.

The report goes on to recommend that the government should “restore creative subjects back into the heart of the curriculum” and “ensure that higher and further education institutions are properly resourced to deliver creative courses”.

It adds: “Ofsted should limit the ‘outstanding’ grade to schools that are able to demonstrate excellence in creative and technical teaching as well as for traditional academic subjects.”

The sector, it continues, “should come together to showcase the rich diversity of creative careers to young people, teachers, parents and carers.”

The Edge Foundation claims that the introduction of the EBacc – which does not include any creative or technical subjects – “leaves many students with no space in their timetable for subjects such as design and technology, art, music or drama”, despite these subjects being recognised as helping young people to “develop the interpersonal, cognitive and systems skills which employers in the sector are demanding”.

Edge Foundation’s director of policy and research, Olly Newton, said: “What our reports consistently show is that government policy is completely out of step [with] what industry, employers and young people themselves want and need.”

He added: “We know the government recognises the skills shortage in the creative sector, but it seems unable or stubbornly unwilling to recognise that its education policy is actually cutting off the very talent pipeline this critical area of the economy needs.”


The EBacc: Everything you need to know

What is the EBacc?

  • The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure for schools in England, implemented by the government.
  • It comprises a set of core subjects that are compulsory for all those taking the EBacc. These are English, maths, science (either double or triple award), a foreign language and either history or geography.
  • This means students will take a minimum of seven GCSEs.
  • It was introduced for schools in England in 2010, however under continued government encouragement has been increasing in prominence ever since.

For more information on the EBacc, click here.


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