Cultural Learning Alliance

There is an increasing realisation that the arts are essential to people’s wellbeing and that they provide a lifeline in difficult times

Julian Lloyd-Webber
Musician and Chairman of In Harmony


STEM to STEAM debated in Westminster Hall

Published 01 February 2014

Last year the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published the Supporting the Creative Economy report. The report included the statement that:

The broader arts curriculum has been seriously hit by the Government’s approach to performance measurement which we deeply regret. The danger remains that schools will in practice see a continued diminution in the provision of dance, drama and other creative subjects. (paragraph 114)

And a recommendation that:

The crucial role of arts subjects in a modern education should be recognised and that art subjects should be added to the STEM subjects, changing STEM to STEAM. (paragraph 117)

The CLA is endorsing this recommendation and is now looking in detail at what that could mean in practice in the UK. Maria Miller has already opened the door to STEAM in her speech on the 22nd January at the British Library. 

The report was debated on the 13th February in Westminster Hall. You can see the full text of the debate here

We asked members to write to their MPs ahead of the debate and suggested the letter text below. Do let us know what your MP responded.


Letter for MPs

Dear (Your MP’s name – look it up here)

Re: Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee - Supporting the Creative Economy report debate, 13th February 2014

I am writing to you as my MP to ask you to contribute to the upcoming debate on the Supporting the Creative Economy report in support of the recommendation that the A of art subjects should be added to STEM subjects, changing STEM to STEAM. 

The STEM subjects are Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and they currently enjoy additional investment in recognition of their vital role in supporting industry. 

As reported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last week the Creative Industries account for 5.6% of total jobs in the UK and 5.2% of the UK Economy. 

I am very concerned that the current disincentives to study arts subjects in schools will have a serious impact on the pipeline of UK workers in to employment in the Creative Industries and more broadly on our children’s ability to compete in the global jobs market. Employers look for well-balanced, well-rounded individuals who are capable of expressing themselves and thinking creatively. For details on the disincentives acting on arts subjects, see: and  

We have already seen a decline of 14% in Arts GCSE entries between 2010, when the English Baccalaureate was introduced, and 2013.

Adding the ‘A’ of arts to the STEM subjects will allow the arts to fulfil their role developing pupils’ ability to innovate and think creatively in the sciences, technology engineering and maths. This recommendation has cross-party and cross-industry support with Maria Miller, Ben Bradshaw, and entrepreneur and UK Skills Champion Ian Livingstone all calling for the change in emphasis.

Please let me know the action you take on this subject.

Yours sincerely 


You may like to select some other evidence, either personally known to you - for example GCSE options at your child’s school, a decline in access to arts opportunities locally to you - or a good news story about the impact of arts education.

You can also source evidence about the value of arts education from the CLA key research findings here and about the disincentives acting on the arts in schools and their impact on children from disadvantaged background here.



Our students need the arts subjects, we need to look to international models of study that embrace the full appreciation of subjects from all fields to make students well rounded and creative.
Jo Richardson 01 February 2014
I worked in a poor rural area and brought the arts to adults and children and am dismayed at this current policy. I shall write to my. MP Davis Laws at the Dept of Ed.
Sylvia Baker 08 February 2014
I'd now like to write back to our MPs with a further request fro action post the debate. Is now the time to do that?
Tom Clark 27 February 2014
Tom - do write to your MP to ask what action they took. When I write I normally include as my final sentence the ask that they let me know what action they take. My MP has always replied with information. Not sure if other people have the same experience?
Sam Cairns 28 February 2014

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Craft=Skills for Life workshop at the Ishango Science Club © Craftspace
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