Make Arts the fourth ‘R’ in the Curriculum


Tate is calling for arts subjects to remain within the National Curriculum for Secondary Schools and for their inclusion in the English Baccalaureate. The proposals for the new Ebacc certificates to replace GCSEs announced last week do not include the arts as a core subject and suggest that there will be no room in the school timetable for art, design, dance, drama and music.

In February, Darren Henley of Classic FM, published a report for the Departments of Education and Culture, Media and Sport that gave a firm endorsement of the importance of earlier cultural learning in the curriculum. In spite of a favourable response from government, there are now concerns that Henley’s detailed proposals will not be implemented as a result of the review of the curriculum.

Cultural learning is more significant than ever. Creativity is essential in a global economy which needs a workforce that is knowledgeable, imaginative and innovative. One of the few parts of the economy in the UK which is still growing is the creative industries. Cultural education is vital for the development of individuals and of society as a whole and it should be delivered through schools as part of the curriculum to ensure both quality of opportunity and experience. It should not be regarded as an optional extra.

Learning through and about the arts enables young people to make, create, learn and express themselves. This is fundamental to achieving success in school and later life. The arts are central to a rounded curriculum and complete education. They significantly boost student achievement and schools integrating arts into their curriculum also show improved student performance in Maths, English, critical thinking and verbal skills. Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to take a degree. By making art a part of the national curriculum, we give the next generation of artists, designers, engineers, creators and cultural leaders the opportunity to develop the imagination and skills that are vital to our future.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said: “There is a real risk that fewer and fewer schools will provide learning opportunities in the arts. The UK’s leading edge in creativity may be lost. We cannot deprive an entire generation of children of the cultural skills that they will need.”

607,901 schoolchildren visited one of Tate’s four galleries in 2011/2. 49,000 people have taken part in learning activities in the Clore Learning Centre which opened as part of the Tate Modern Project. Like other cultural institutions Tate’s learning programmes, both in the galleries and online, take the collection and exhibitions as their point of inspiration. The arts should share an equal place with reading, maths, science and other disciplines as “core subjects”.


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