Cultural Learning Alliance

Art, music, dance – and culture more broadly – is essential and transformative. It is about who you are

Tony Hall
Chief Executive, Royal Opera House


14% fall in number of arts GCSEs taken in schools

Published 09 September 2013

The number of children studying arts GCSEs has fallen since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate performance measure, with 14% fewer arts GCSEs being taken in 2013 than in 2010.

Read the details in our September 2013 research report.


Despite statements from government suggesting that plans for the English Baccalaureate would not go ahead as planned, the EBacc is still being used by the government to measure school performance and is having a profound effect on the number of children studying the arts.

This is particularly disturbing given the strong evidence that arts subjects raise the attainment of children from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and increase both their employability and their chances of engaging with their communities.

The House of Commons Select Committee has also noted that the EBacc effect of narrowing options away from the arts affects disadvantaged children far more than others. In 2012 an Ipsos MORI report showed that schools with a high proportion of children on free school meals are more than twice as likely to withdraw arts subjects than schools with a low proportion (21% versus 8%).

In the view of the CLA, the government must recognise that the arts and culture are essential to Britain’s academic, economic and social success. Schools must be incentivised to offer the arts in same way as the EBacc subjects, and the government should add its voice to that of employers in communicating clearly to parents, teachers and young people the importance of studying an arts subject.

Lord Puttnam, Chair of the CLA, called on the government to halt the decline in arts and cultural study, saying: This is the inevitable outcome of the decision to exclude the arts from the English Baccalaureate. It could leave us with a generation of children and young people without the creative skills to compete successfully in today’s economy and society. Government must work together with schools to stem the decline in arts and cultural study, and encourage children to choose the arts before it is too late.”

Sally Bacon, Founding Member of the CLA, Executive Director of the Clore Duffield Foundation, said: 'The arts in schools must be championed and supported and every child must be given the best chance to succeed. Over 9,000 individuals and organisations across the country representing teachers, cultural leaders and concerned parents are signatories to the Alliance’s call to protect the rights of every child to a cultural education and are ready to make this call a reality. We need government to do its part.' 


Thank you for pulling together hard evidence which we can use with challenging Mr Gove and his crew of merry men. I have already requested a parliamentary question o be asked on this. Those statistic show an undeniable decline in Arts opportunities in our schools. We have to highlight and challenge this as "loudly" as possible.
Susan Coles 10 September 2013
Everybody is telling the government how important the arts are to raising attainment in other curriculum areas, and rightly so because this is probably the only way that the government will see any value in the arts. But please remember that art is also intrinsically important because it is art. Art is important full stop.
Peter Kendall 26 September 2013
Those who intervene politically in the education system will always produce an inadequate and unbalanced curriculum because they are always reflecting a bias towards only parts of the learning process. Most of them consistently fail to value the vital part that studying the arts plays in a complete education -and yet they rush to the opera, the theatre and to buy works of art! The practice of producing art teaches a totally different way of seeing and analysing the world that we live in. It is as important a discipline as science, mathematics or words. They also consistently fail to assess the role of the arts in Britain in generating prestige internationally and economic wealth.
Kate Cliffe 19 November 2013

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