State of the Arts

 

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On Sunday I was browsing around the internet and came across this blog post written by a fellow teacher, some of you may have seen it as its been covered by the media, it is a resignation letter addressed to Nicky Morgan (Secretary for Education). The post really struck a chord with me as the points that she makes are things that I have thought and things that I worry about for the future.

The points she makes I can completely emphasise with. It feels as though every staff meeting another change is introduced, another set of goal posts moved, another battle to fight and I feel like it can’t be sustainable. There is a very good reason why teachers are leaving the profession in droves but it seems that still no one is listening or caring. This is important. This is the future of our children and our country.

Towards the start of the year I met Nicky Morgan and since that meeting I have been despairing for the state of education in our country and especially the future of the Arts even more. The longer the Tories are in power, it seems the more they are set on destroying the education system and diminishing the Arts completely. Nicky Morgan does not have a clue, she has gone on record stating that “the arts are holding kids back” and I have had her stood in my classroom and tell me how Art is a nice hobby for students. I fear that if they had their way the Arts would be cut from the curriculum and in many schools I fear they already are. I recently spoke to some teachers who had 6 hours of Art lessons PER YEAR with Yr9. How are you supposed to prepare students for a GCSE with 6 hours of teaching!?

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We were invited to pose questions to Nicky Morgan, so I took the opportunity to ask the following: Despite the creative industries being one of the largest growing sectors of the U.K.s economy, why is there  less and less emphasis being placed on the creative arts, such as Art, Drama, and Music, within the curriculum and in schools, when these subjects develop such a broad range of skills in students and are now at risk of being pushed out of the curriculum. Therefore why is S.T.E.M being pursued and not S.T.E.A.M?

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The answer I got shocked me and many colleagues. In a nutshell I was told the Arts were not important. To elaborate; I was told that firstly not all schools have the provision to offer a broad Arts curriculum (now who’s fault would that be with the funding to schools being cut…) and that  STEM or STEAM is not a choice that schools are being asked to make, but the emphasis is being placed on these subjects because other industries such as Science and Engineering are more important to the British Economy. It is important to keep people coming through the system into these jobs to promote growth in this area rather than the Arts. Currently a lot of girls enjoy Science and Maths in Primary school but are not enjoying it or opting to take it at A Level and so we need to promote these subjects as they are more important.

So sorry kids you are going to have Science and Maths forced upon you for as long as the Tories can and good luck if you are a student who struggles in these areas but responds to the Arts because you are going to face a very limited curriculum or be told that you are not studying ‘proper’ subjects.

And what will we do when there are no creatives to fill the jobs in the Arts? People with limited skills and a lack of creative thought?

If you have not yet come across Bob and Roberta Smith then check out his website. He is an artist fighting the battle for the Arts and trying to show the government how important they are (see the picture at the top ‘Dear Nicky Morgan’).

I hope change will happen. I have only been teaching for 6 years but I am unsure how long I can stay in a profession where my subject is continually devalued and I am getting tired of fighting. But for now I shall…

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