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Schoolchildren should study the arts until age 16, says report | Education

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Category: Education
Published on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 Written by Super User
Dance class at a school

The report suggested the English Baccalaureate should include one subject such as dance, drama, design or music. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Ministers should consider making pupils study the arts up to the age of 16 amid concerns that cultural education in England is still "patchy", a government-commissioned report has said.

It warns that there is concern about how much the coalition government values cultural education in schools, adding that this has been partly caused by the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

To achieve the EBacc pupils must gain at least a C in English, maths, science, a foreign language and history or geography. However, it does not include other arts subjects such as dance, drama, design or music.

In his review of cultural education, Darren Henley suggests including a "sixth group" within the EBacc to cover these subjects.

Henley, managing director of Classic FM, was asked to conduct the review by ministers in April last year.

The findings, published on Tuesday, say: "There remains a great deal of patchiness in provision of cultural education across England."

It says that while in some places education in the arts is "truly excellent" in others there is a dearth of provision that needs to be addressed to bring standards up to a universally high level across the country.

The report later addresses cultural education in the school curriculum, warning that arts subjects risk being devalued, and losing funding, if they are removed following the current national curriculum review.

Henley also says: "There is a good deal of concern expressed in much of the evidence that I have received during the course of undertaking this review about the extent to which the coalition government values cultural education in schools.

"The introduction of the English Baccalaureate is a significant contributory factor in causing these concerns.

"There is no suggestion in this review that the learning of cultural education subjects should be placed above the need for every single child to become proficient in reading, writing and mathematics."

The review calls on the government to underline the importance it places on cultural education, recognising the value of gaining qualifications in these subjects.

It says: "If we are to create a generation of fully rounded individuals, then the government should consider whether an education in at least one cultural subject (aside from English literature and history) to at least GCSE level should be mandatory.

"This could be achieved through the creation of a sixth grouping of subjects included in the English Baccalaureate. This would include cultural education subjects such as art and design, dance, drama, design technology, film studies and music.

"A clear signal from the coalition government that cultural education subjects, aside from English literature and history, form an important part of the curriculum, would provide a much-needed boost.

In its response to Henley's review, the ministers insisted that learning about the nation's culture and playing a part in the cultural life of a school and community was vital to developing an identity.

"Enjoying and participating in cultural life should be available to all children and young people: it must not be restricted to those children whose families already participate in cultural activities.

"All children and young people, no matter what their background or family circumstances, should have the opportunity to develop their creativity, their relationship with society and to contribute to the economy in ways that are beneficial to them as individuals and to society," the government's response said.

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