State school art teachers blame the EBacc as young people are steered away from their subject, according to a new survey.
Opportunities for young people to study art and design have been reduced by the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) according to a new report compiled by The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD).
A survey of 1,200 teachers and coordinators of arts, craft and design in England, conducted between June and July 2015, reveals that a “significant erosion” has occurred in the past five years across four key indicators: curriculum provision, value attached to the subjects, professional development opportunities and wellbeing of art and design teachers.
Opportunities to study art and design are being hit hardest in the state sector, and amongst higher ability students, who are being specifically steered away from arts subjects.
93% of state schools teachers, from primary to post-16 education, agreed that the EBacc had reduced the opportunity for students to choose to study art and design GCSE, compared to 46% of teachers from independent schools.
At least 33% and up to 44% of teachers said that curriculum time and resources for arts subjects had decreased over the past five years.
This has been most acute in state schools leading up to national tests: 89% of primary state school teachers said time allocated for art and design decreased in the two terms before key stage 2 national tests, compared to 54% of teachers in independent schools. This has led to a drop in students’ art and design standards on entry to key stage 3, noticed by 50-61% of state secondary school teachers, but only 39% of teachers at independent schools.
Children and young people at independent schools are also more likely to be given the chance to learn about art first hand in galleries and with artists. 82% of teachers at independent schools agreed that every examination group should visit artworks in a gallery or spend time with an artist, compared to 36–68% of state school teachers.
Both state and independent schools were found to be much more likely to enable lower ability than higher ability students to take art and design qualifications. When asked if their school enabled higher ability students to take art and design, the percentage of teachers agreeing ranged from 51–77%. In contrast, 73–93% of teachers agreed their school enabled lower ability students to take art and design.
In the past five years there has been an erosion of art and design teachers’ wellbeing, with almost 80% saying their workload had increased. 55% said they had either left the industry or considered leaving, with most pointing to a poor work / life balance, unmanageable workload, and the reduced profile and value of the subjects by government and school management.
In addition, access to continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for art and design teachers is limited, particularly in the state sector. Just over half (51%) of independent school teachers attended CPD annually, compared to 31% of state school teachers.
The report’s authors recommend that value be returned to arts subjects by re-prioritising curriculum time for the arts and ensuring that initiatives such as the EBacc do not reduce the opportunities for students to take arts subjects. They are calling on the Department for Education to avoid suggesting that students’ higher education opportunities will be limited by taking art and design.
They also recommend Arts Council England create clear goals in its Schools’ Entitlement Document to guarantee partnership across all art forms, and to use both bridge organisations and national portfolio organisations to develop partnerships between the museum and gallery sectors and schools.
The report is to be presented today to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education.
Group Chair Sharon Hodgson MP said: “Nurturing creativity and opening the minds of our children and young people to different horizons should be an important part of any child’s or young person’s education.
“That is why it is vital that art and design teachers receive the recognition and support they deserve from policy-makers and the Government so that they can educate future generations with the creativity, talent and skills to drive our economy in the 21st Century.”
Hasan Bakhshi, Director of Creative Economy at Nesta, added: "This survey confirms that the privileging of STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - subjects in the national curriculum in English schools in recent years is having a detrimental impact on the art and design offer for young people. This is deeply worrying, considering Nesta's research, which shows that creative jobs - bringing together science, technology, engineering, mathematics with art (STEAM) - will give young people the best career opportunities in the future."