I’ve previously expressed my great concerns about Gove’s English Baccalaureate proposals (in January 2011 and September 2012).Under his scheme, pupils who achieve a GCSE grade C or better in English, Maths, a Language, two Sciences and History or Geography will achieve the EBacc. Subjects such as music, art, drama, design, technology and religious studies do not count.
I was therefore delighted to see (not before time!) that leading figures in the arts world have now also expressed their deep concern. Sir Nicholas Hytner (Director, National Theatre), Sir Nicholas Serota (Director of the Tate), Julian Lloyd Webber (musician), Richard Rogers (architect), Sir David Hare (playwright) and Grayson Perry (artist) are among the cultural figureheads fearful about the impact of excluding creative subjects from the core qualification at 16 (as reported in yesterday’s Guardian).
The fear is that many schools, particularly state schools, will marginalise arts subjects if they don’t count towards the EBacc. It’s all very well for a spokeswoman for the Department for Education to claim that “the English baccalaureate does not prevent any school from offering GCSEs in art and design, dance, drama and music. We have been clear that pupils should take the GCSEs that are right for them” – but, frankly, this is poppycock! At a time when school league tables are seen to be the defining factor in determining a school’s “worth” for parents (wrongly in my view), schools WILL inevitably focus on matters that will enhance their league table standings – and, clearly, will very largely revolve around its EBacc success levels.
How much more damage will Mr Gove be able to wreak on the UK’s education system?
Also pity the poor children, teachers and parents who will face even more confusion and worry when a subsequent government wants to try to repair the damage!
PS: This article by Grayson Perry, that appeared in the Guardian on Friday, says it all for me.