UK arts organizations warn of coming ‘arts apocalypse’


The crisis in our schools is deep, multifaceted, and worsening. The current state of arts education is one of the clearest signs that something is wrong with our entire system.

A commitment to arts education is critical to arresting its decline and building an education system fit for the 21st century.

We call on politicians from all parties to recognize these issues and respond on the scale necessary. We encourage educators and the wider arts community to drive radical change in schools and communities.

The arts are vital to human achievement; they are meaningful activities with personal, social and economic value. But in education, what is recognized in principle is often denied in practice. In an underfunded system, we see arts education decimated as school leaders are forced to make impossible decisions under shrinking budgets and a damaging focus on a narrow curriculum.

In primary, the demands of testing often push arts education into a corner of the curriculum. Elementary teachers report that they feel they do not have the skills to be successful arts educators. Initial teacher training fails to equip teachers with confidence to teach arts subjects. Opportunities for career advancement are rare.

in middle school, initiatives rooted in greater accountability promoted by the EBacc system have had a similar effect: actively discouraging students from pursuing arts-based routes. Subjects deemed important by the government, such as English, have been stripped of their creative content. Assessments in other arts subjects are filled with written tasks. The government increasingly directs schools to offer prescriptive, often centrally planned curricula that focus on exams while the arts are marginalized. The impact on behaviour, mental health, school engagement and attendance is catastrophic.

We demand systemic change

Studying to be an art or music teacher – indeed a teacher of any subject – should mean learning the skills and knowledge relevant to the profession. government reinvented, teacher education It has come to mean something else – training in generic skills, a reduction in quality.

The numbers are dropping dramatically. As a generation of students comes of age who have lived through a declining system, recruitment of specialist teachers in arts subjects has dropped to dangerous levels. This vicious cycle threatens the existence of quality arts education in schools. Good practice does exist, but it is independent of the system, not because of it.

The consequences of not changing course are bleak. Our system fails to help pupils achieve their potential and ignores their cultural experiences at home and in the community, which increases problems with mental health, behavior and poor attendance.

The relegation of arts subjects to third-class status in our education system threatens the future of this country’s creative industries, but also hinders our ability to prepare children to fully develop their talents and interests. It blocks their access to the arts and their rights protected by Articles 29 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of the Child.

We believe that the benefits of a comprehensive, broad-based curriculum and equal focus on the arts can deliver huge social, economic and personal mental health benefits for generations to come.

We want politicians to commit to:

  • Education spending has been significantly increased, with dedicated funding for arts education.
  • To increase the supply of arts teachers, ITT recruitment falls far short of targets.
  • A comprehensive review of the curriculum and assessment from EYFS to Post-16 to expand and improve the stated aims of arts education. Supplementary arts education practices such as Progress 8, EBacc, and the SAT should be ended.
  • No more destructive low-value language and “Mickey Mouse” rhetoric to describe artistic subjects.
  • Rebuilding arts education organizations that support schools.
  • Give education and arts unions, subject associations, arts educators, arts organizations a seat at the table when reviewing the curriculum.

The Art Revelation Statement is supported by the following organizations:

National Education Alliance, Access Art, WGGB – Writers’ Alliance, Primary Education Literacy Centre, Black Lives Matter in Music, Equity, Musicians’ Alliance, One Dance UK, Susan M Coles – Arts Creative Education Consultant, Artist, British Literacy Association, Youth Music , National Theatre, London Theater and National Association for Education in Art and Design.Number



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