10,000+ sign petition against proposed EBacc policy

More than 10,000 people have voiced their concerns over Department for Education plans to make it compulsory to study maths, English, sciences, languages and humanities (defined as history and geography only).

The Department’s plans will undermine creative subjects by excluding them from this compulsory curriculum, better known as the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

The last time it was introduced as a league table, the EBacc harmed the uptake of creative subjects at GCSE, leaving little room for creative subjects to be studied in schools; now the Department wants to make the EBacc compulsory.

The Bacc for the Future campaign – a cross-arts campaign to save creative subjects in schools – has already secured the backing of more than 85 creative industry businesses and organisations and 10,000 individuals: parents, designers, artists, musicians, teachers, head teachers and members of the public.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

‘More than 10,000 individuals have already supported Bacc for the Future. There is real concern from parents, designers, artists, musicians, teachers, head teachers and members of the public about the proposal to make the EBacc compulsory in schools. We have heard from leading professionals across the creative industries and more than 80 creative organisations who have expressed their concerns. The creative industries are – by the Government’s own reckoning – worth more than £75 billion a year to the UK economy and we urge the Department for Education to reconsider their proposals and ensure that creative subjects are protected in schools.’

A number of key industry figures from the creative industries have also spoken of their concerns about the proposed EBacc:

Robert Lindsay, English actor said:

‘I would not be where I am today, doing what I am doing, without the opportunities that being able to study drama, music and the arts at school gave me. It would be a tragedy if the Government were to press ahead with a policy that would force the arts out of schools and out of the classroom and would undermine the future careers of many aspiring young people.

‘Our industries – the creative industries – are worth nearly £80 billion a year to the UK economy, employ millions, and are growing faster than any other part of the UK economy. I therefore implore the Government to recognise, and give parity to, the creative subjects which – in their own words – make Britain Great. Our future actors/actresses, musicians, artists and many, many others will rely on it.’

Debbie Wiseman MBE, composer said:

‘Without access to music in school, I would have not had the opportunity to realise my potential and fulfil my dream of becoming a professional composer. Without these opportunities in our schools we will undermine our creative economy, and undermine creativity in our society.

I urge the Department for Education to recognise creative subjects in schools and urge musicians, artists, designers, actors, parents and everyone to support the Bacc for the Future campaign and help save creativity in our schools.’

Mary Bevan, English soprano said:

‘Study after study has demonstrated just how integral music and other creative subjects is to a child’s development and education. It seems astonishing that a proposal such as this – one that risks pushing this vital part of education out of our secondary schools - could ever be considered.

The standard of music education at the grammar school I attended was high, despite being a low-funded subject in comparison to Sports and Technology. This was due to the passion and skill of individual teachers, and if demand for these teachers diminishes then many potentially brilliant musicians will never have the chance to flourish.

I urge those in power to urgently reconsider this proposal, and anyone who cares about the future of music and the arts in schools to support the Bacc for the Future campaign.’

Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire said:

'It is crazy that we should have to be fighting this battle all over again! Countless studies throughout the world have PROVED that children do better in their other subjects if they study music and play an instrument.

We are lagging behind countries like China that have recognised this and where children playing instruments and studying music in school is the norm.

The UK is missing out on talent in an area which has been of enormous benefit to the UK’s economy and prestige and these short-sighted proposals will exacerbate the problem.’

Arlene Phillips CBE choreographer and theatre director said:

'The creative industries – dance, theatre, film, television, music, art and more – play such a vital role in making up the UK's unique identity and indeed, the UK economy. The Department for Education must reconsider this proposal; a proposal that - if it goes ahead - will ultimately damage this integral piece of the UK's economy.

I hope the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Culture and Secretary of State for Education will reconsider this proposal and I would urge everyone who wants to help play a part in saving the arts in schools to support the Bacc for the Future campaign.’

Harry Treadaway, English actor said:

'The opportunity to study music, drama or art at secondary schools across England should never be in question.
What would our country, our culture, our world be without music, films, theatre, art? Without the joy, reflection, inspiration and information they can provide?

What kind of world will we create if we deny future practitioners of tomorrow, the chance to study the arts today?

It's a no-brainer. These subjects represent a dynamic economy and a global industry.

A market in which myriad careers flow.

If we deny the chance to learn about them in our schools, we will be denying a vital part of our heritage.

Stories, ideas, songs and images have long coloured, shaded and shaped our history and will no doubt brighten our future. Let's let the people who want to carry this torch forward be allowed to find the spark at school.'

Background notes for editors

Bacc for the Future is a cross arts campaign of 10,000+ individuals and almost 90 organisations calling for creative subjects to be valued in school accountability measures.

Bacc for the Future was initially launched in 2012 in response to the Government plans to introduce new qualifications for EBacc subjects. The campaign stopped the EBacc from becoming the primary school accountability measure in February 2013.

The Government have now proposed making the EBacc compulsory, which would undermine creative subjects at GCSE level.

The Cultural Learning Alliance have produced a useful look at GCSE figures over the last few years including the background numbers.

The creative economy is worth £76.9 billion a year to the UK economy.

Creative education – as well as being valuable in itself – has a huge impact on wider educational engagement and social development.

The public back the place of arts at GCSE level.