Secret Teacher: subjects like art are being sidelined – but they matter

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Secret Teacher: subjects like art are being sidelined - but they matter

According to the primary national curriculum in the United States, students should be taught to become “proficient in drawing”. However, most of them are unable to draw. Cats, cows, pigs and mice all appear the same – round heads and bodies drawn with four stick legs poking out. With a few exceptions, the same pattern is witnessed in every year group being taught.

It is not just art. Music and languages are being neglected as well. In a recent NEU (then the NUT) survey, 97 percent of the union’s teachers agreed that Sats preparation failed to support children’s access to a broad and balanced curriculum. The time taken to nurture children for assessment in maths and English has sidelined other subjects and activities. This issue does not stop when students leave primary. The number of students in the middle school taking subjects like music and drama has dropped to its lowest level in 10 years. The study of modern foreign languages at GCSE has also reduced.

Feversham Primary in Bradford recently made headlines for its emphasis on educating the arts, particularly music, which has led to a boost in pupil outcomes. However, the fact that the school’s approach has made the national newspapers is a telltale sign that it is unusual. Besides the enhancement of outcomes, the message sent to students when arts and languages are being sidelined is a concern. It might result in a divide amongst students whose parents can afford to take them to private music lessons, language clubs or the theatre and those who can only have the access through school curriculum. If the institutions only place emphasis in children’s progress and attainment in certain subjects, challenges are apparent in establishing the potential of those whose strengths lie outside the range.

The challenge is that creativity, enhanced confidence or a love of the arts cannot be easily measured through standardised tests, data analysis or league tables. Perhaps this is the reason why certain subjects are given less focus. This is an issue that should be of concern to the school leadership and government.

Source: The Guardian

Therefore, how can a similar issue be rectified in the higher education landscape?

Participate in the upcoming QS Totally Arts Summit – “21st Century Art and Design Education: Nurturing Passion with Purpose” which will be held from 24-26 October 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.