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BBC survey points to bleak future for arts provision in schools in England

The Musicians’ Union endorses the findings of new BBC research, which reveals the devastating impact of cuts to arts subjects.

Published: 31 January 2018 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:29 PM

The Musicians’ Union endorses the findings of new BBC research, which reveals the devastating impact of cuts to arts subjects.

The results of the BBC Schools Survey, announced today, underline the extent to which creative arts subjects have been cut by more than a thousand secondary schools across England.

Subjects affected include music, art, drama, dance, design & technology and media studies, with almost all schools who have taken part saying they have made cuts to at least one subject - with many making cuts across several departments.

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

“This new research from the BBC has confirmed the MU’s findings that far too many young people are unable to access music as part of a broad and balanced school curriculum. Government policy, in particular the EBacc, is the driving force behind this situation, with the result that increasing numbers of children can have music lessons only if their parents are able to pay for them. This will do nothing to increase diversity and opportunity in the music industry. The MU therefore calls on the government to review its education policy in order to ensure that music is a skill that everyone gets a chance to learn.”

More than three quarters of schools responding to the Survey said that performance targets set by the government had significantly impacted upon creatives arts provision in their school. The most frequent cuts being the number of hours pupils are being taught subjects; the number of specialised staff; and the funding for arts facilities.

The Survey also highlights that some schools have already cut subjects at GCSE, alongside cuts to after-school clubs and the introduction of parental donations. Only a handful of schools said they were increasing provision. Plus the Survey suggests the trend will continue with around a third of schools expecting to completely cut one or more creative subjects at GCSE in the next three years.

Diane Widdison, MU National Organiser for Education & Training, said:

“The policy section of our Education Report highlighted that the EBacc, a performance measure, has had an extremely damaging effect on school music departments. This is because the EBacc forces schools to prioritise entering pupils for seven GCSEs in so-called core subjects, not including the arts. The result of this has been that school music departments are rapidly closing down, our members are losing their jobs as music teachers, and GCSE entries are plummeting. We are therefore pleased to see this new piece of research from the BBC which strongly supports our own observations. We call on the government to review the EBacc to ensure that music and the arts don’t disappear from the curriculum completely.”

More information on the BBC Schools Survey.

Access the MU Education Report.

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