Concern at dramatic drop in students studying arts and creative GCSEs

22 June 2016, 10:31 | Updated: 22 June 2016, 10:39

New figures suggest students are deserting arts-based GCSE subjects in favour of more academic EBacc subjects.

Newly-released figures showing exam entries in England have revealed a dramatic slump in the arts. Entries for GCSEs in arts subjects have fallen by 46,000 this year compared with 2015.

According to official statistics published by the exam watchdog Ofqual, the number of GCSE exams being taken in art and design subjects have fallen by 8%. These subjects include Music and Performing Arts, Design and Technology, Drama, and Media Studies. 

This decline is in contrast to increases in students taking EBacc subjects like English, Mathematics, History, Sciences and Languages. The recently introduced English Baccalaureate covers seven GCSEs, with critics saying it is squeezing out the arts. 

Concerns about the creative subjects in schools were raised in May in an open letter from a number of prominent figures in the arts, including Julian Lloyd Webber and Tasmin Little. They said that the current GCSE structure leaves little room outside the EBacc for the subjects that underpin our creative industries, which contributed £84.1 billion to the British economy in 2014.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians told Arts Professional: "These new figures confirm the direction of travel of the Government’s Ebacc policy, namely to reengineer the education offered by schools. The only problem is that this is totally at odds with what the UK economy and the creative industries need."

More than 100,000 people have signed a Parliamentary Petition opposing the exclusion of art, drama, music and other creative subjects from the EBacc. The subject is due to be debated in Parliament on 4 July.