Parliament to debate inclusion of arts subjects in English school curriculum

Today Parliament will debate the inclusion of arts subjects in the core English school curriculum at GCSE level.

The debate is the result of a petition started by teacher Richard Wilson, which received over 100,000 signatures, calling for arts subjects to be made a compulsory part of the government’s English Baccalaureate (EBacc) scheme.

The EBacc scheme aims to increase the amount of GCSE level school children (aged 14-16) studying the five compulsory core subjects — maths, English and science, alongside a language and history or geography. It is proposed that this will increase to seven core subjects but include no creative disciplines. The petition states that the “exclusion of art, music, drama and other expressive subjects is limiting, short sighted and cruel. Creativity must be at the heart of our schools.”

The petition is supported by the Bacc for the Future campaign, which states: “Given the average number of full GCSE’s taken by pupils is 8.1, there will be precious little room outside of the EBacc measure for the subjects which underpin our creative industries.”

According to recent government figures, there has been a yearly decline of 46,000 applications to creative subjects at GCSE level since the introduction of the EBacc in 2010. Yet the Department for Culture, Media & Sport states that the creative industries contributed £84.1bn to the UK economy in 2014, equal to 5.2%, and employ nearly two million people.

The debate in the House of Commons can be watched live at from 16:30 — 19:30 (BST) today.

Words by Jenny Brewer