Education secretary Damian Hinds has denied that creative arts are being forced out of schools, claiming culture is being delivered “at large scale”.
Speaking to a parliament education committee, Hinds hit back at committee member and Labour MP Thelma Walker, who suggested a “culture of targets and testing” is putting strain on schools and leading to a narrowing of the curriculum in which the arts are being sidelined.
Interrupting, Hinds said: “No, no it’s not.
“I think you know that creative arts are happening at large scale in our schools and rightly so… We want children to have a broad education. Yes qualifications are important. They help you get a job, they help you to get on in life, but they are not the only important thing.”
He added: “There’s also general self-development and there’s also self-discovery and the joy of learning, the joy of arts, the joy of music. I want children to be able to enjoy all of these.”
Hinds pushed back on Walker’s references to the Fabian Society’s Primary Colours report, which was published earlier this year and concluded there had been a “dramatic” decline in arts education.
It revealed that two thirds of the 400 teachers surveyed believe cultural provision in their schools has declined since 2010.
Hinds’ rejection of assertions that arts in schools is in decline follows repeated claims by the minister for schools standards, Nick Gibb, to the same effect.
He has previously described concerns over the English Baccalaureate’s effect on creative subjects as “unfounded” and “illusory” and maintains that uptake has remained steady since the EBacc was introduced.
Last month, the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee urged the government to offer a “clear explanation” about why it has rejected concerns over arts in schools, when many working in the sector have spoken out about their growing fears.