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Creative Policy and Evidence Centre raises concerns over lack of focus on creativity within schools across the UK.

Young people with clarinets recording music on desktop computers

Erin Lodes/Creative Commons

Policymakers must prioritise creative education in schools if the UK is to fully realise the potential of its world-leading creative industries a report by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (Creative PEC) has said.

The State of Creativity report, which reflects on 25 years of creative industry policy, warns that creativity "seems to have been all but expunged from the school curriculum in England".

It also calls on governments across the four nations to end unequal access to the arts and focus on the regenerative power of the creative industries.


The report says that over the last decade the need to improve the nation’s capabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM subjects, has been a consistent theme in successive policy statements on education in England.

It says the creative industries have benefited from this focus, in particular through reforms to the computing curriculum in English schools, which have benefitted the video games and visual effects industries.

However, government attempts to fashion stronger technical-education pathways to meet industry needs has resulted in consideration of the creative industries looking "like an afterthought".

"Creative industries advocates have found themselves confined to explaining to the government the distinctive ways in which work is organised in these industries and proposing remedial corrections," the report states.

"For example, they have had to make the case for portable apprenticeships, which, unlike traditional apprenticeships, allow an apprentice to undertake several shorter-term employment contracts to complete their training. 

"A more proactive approach – warranted by the sector’s outsized contributions to economic growth – would be to involve the creative industries at the outset in shaping policies to deliver post-16 and lifelong learning initiatives." 

Growing importance

The report says that the importance of creative skills in the workforce will continue to grow due to the rise in artificial intelligence.

It points to research suggesting creative jobs will be more resistant to emerging technologies and automation with employers increasingly demanding creative skills like originality, fluency of ideas and complex problem-solving. 

"Demand for creative digital skills will see especially rapid growth," the report states.

"In spite of these insights, English [policymakers] have devalued creative skills in educational policy. 

"In schools, art and design have been deprioritised in the national curriculum – most obviously by their omission from the English Baccalaureate – leaving their cause to be championed in after-school clubs and other extracurricular activities."

Hasan Bakhshi, Director at Creative PEC said that while the sector is "no longer an unsung success story in the UK’s industrial strategy", its place in mainstream policies in areas like education, skills, immigration and the climate emergency is not yet secured. 

"The challenge for the Creative PEC during the next five years is to ensure that policies across government - not just in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - are grounded in an assessment of Creative Britain’s needs, informed by robust evidence.” 

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council said the creative industries play an essential role in addressing national and global challenges, driving innovation and prosperity across society and the economy.  

"The Creative PEC have been vital to setting the argument for investment on a new footing," he said. 

"This report provides another important contribution to the evidence base, helping us to ensure we build on our successes to-date and allow the creative industries to continue to flourish.”