The Royal Shakespeare Company is demanding that all secondary schools offer a full range of arts subjects at GCSE and promote their benefits to students and parents.
These are among the recommendations of a new study, jointly published by the RSC and Tate, which endorses the impact of an “arts-rich” education and calls for an urgent reversal to the declining provision of culture in British schools.
Described as the most comprehensive survey of its kind, the research, called Time to Listen, spoke to 6,000 students aged 11 to 18 and their teachers, over a period of three years.
In it, students reported that the arts helped them to understand themselves and the world around them and the report describes the positive impact that “arts-rich schools have on fostering independent thinking and creativity, confidence, well-being and empathy”.
The subsequent calls include recommendations that all secondary schools should give the arts parity with other subjects at Key Stage 3, offer a full range of cultural options at GCSE and “confidently talk to students and their families about the value of studying arts subjects”.
It also claims this should be included in the Ofsted inspection process, with a minimum proportion of time dedicated to creative subjects at Key Stage 3.
Elsewhere, the report calls for a review among Russell Group universities around how they promote the value of arts subjects to young people, as well as demanding recognition for teachers who support the arts, and that there should be an arts and culture premium for all school children.
This supports an existing demand, made by arts education campaigners, and would see the government fund an allocation of money to primary schools specifically to support the arts, similar to the current sports premium.
RSC deputy artistic director Erica Whyman said: “The strong, consistent and thoughtful message from the young people in this study is that arts and cultural subjects are uniquely important in equipping them for both academic and employment success.
“If we want this generation to have the key skills required to thrive in the workplace of the future, we need to listen to them now.”
The research was carried out by the school of education at the University of Nottingham.