For the past six years or so a variety of arts organisations have been campaigning against the English Baccalaureate, or the ‘EBacc’, as it’s known. To meet this standard, schoolchildren have to get grade C or above in seven GCSEs (Eng lang, Eng lit, maths, two sciences, a humanity and a foreign language) and, according to the campaigners, this means students have been turning away from arts GCSE subjects such as music, drama and dance. They claim that since the EBacc’s introduction by Michael Gove, arts education has been decimated.
Now, I have some sympathy for the lobby groups making this argument. The first part of their case — that the arts are one of the UK’s biggest strengths and are increasingly critical to our economic success — is unassailable. Since 1997, the growth of Britain’s creative industries has outstripped that of many other sectors, adding a gross value of over £84 billion, or 5.2 per cent of the UK’s GDP, in 2014. No one in this debate is suggesting that arts education isn’t hugely important, although the anti-EBacc lobbyists might think otherwise. (To read more, click here.)