The schools minister Nick Gibb has been lobbied to show more commitment to arts education by introducing a “more creative EBacc” after announcing £300 million funding to secure the future of music education hubs.
Gibb said the continued investment for the hubs, running since 2012, will help thousands of youngsters from all backgrounds to enjoy life-changing activities, Schools Week reports.
Just over 120 hubs across the country have been established to help 5-18 year olds to learn instruments, to sing in a choir or to join a band through partnerships involving schools, councils and arts organisations. The government has spent £271 million on the music hubs, overseen by Arts Council England, since 2012. The £300 million will secure funding until 2020.
But Gibb has now been urged to further prove his commitment to the arts by making the government’s EBacc “more creative”.
The director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, James Bowen, said:
“The accountability system must allow for pupils to take music if they want to. Who can argue that learning an instrument is not rigorous?”
Criticising the focus on traditional subjects, and sidelining the arts, he added there had been a 5 per cent drop in the numbers taking GCSE music:
“Too strong a focus on EBacc subjects, driven by high stakes accountability, with little room for any additional subject choices at key stage 4, means pupils can be limited in their subject choices at A-level too.”
There’s been a 1.7 per cent drop in the number of pupils entering at least one arts subject this year. And the National Union of Teachers last week claimed that creative arts teachers are also facing increased job insecurity.
Analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research shows the hubs reached 18,811 state schools (86 per cent) in 2014-15, an increase of 2.2 percentage points on the previous year.
In nearly two-thirds of cases they were supporting the schools’ music education plans to help to raise the quality of music education in the classroom. The study also found many hub leaders reported they were making good progress.