The General Certificate ofSecondary Education (GCSE) is an academic qualification sat by secondary schoolpupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to mark their graduation fromKey Stage 4. There are a large variety of GCSE subjects, from Sociology to Spanish;however the majority of students take some of the core subjects: English,maths, and science (Carroll and Gill, 2017).In 2010, the EnglishBaccalaureate (EBacc) was introduced as a school performance measure (Armitageand Lau, 2018) to encourage schools to offer an extensive set of academicsubjects throughout secondary school, in the hope of enhancing the futureprospects of students (DfE, 2010). The five sets of subjects required toachieve the EBacc are: English, maths, science, history or geography, plus amodern or ancient foreign language.
There has since been even more emphasis onsubject choice, with Attainment 8 and Progress 8 performance measuresintroduced last year (DfE, 2017), as well as the requirement of 90% of studentsfrom cohorts after 2015 to enter the EBacc (DfE, 2015). Unfortunately, theexclusion of the arts from the EBacc, and consequently limited options tofulfil Progress 8 and Attainment 8, has caused the arts to reside at the bottomof the priorities list. With increased pressure on the more rigorous coreacademic subjects, coupled with ‘frozen’ funding per pupil; which translatesinto a reduction of approximately 6.
5% between 2015–16 and 2019–20 (Belfield,Crawford and Sibieta, 2017), many schools are now encouraging students to turnaway from the arts. This has led to the number ofstudents taking arts subjects at GCSE reaching its lowest point in a decade in2015/16 (Turner, 2017), with provisional data for 2017 suggesting this trendwill continue (Johnes, 2017). One grammar school has recently been found chargingpupils £5 per week for their GCSE music lessons (Bennett, 2018), thus sparkingoutrage across the UK. The creative industries are the fastest growing sectorof the UK economy, worth around £92 billion, and the UK are celebrated as worldleaders in this field (Norris, 2018). So why is the talent for this industry beingcut off by an ill-advised shelving of creativity in education?