GCSE Arts – the full picture

GCSE Arts – the full picture

Hello all! It’s Laura the new apprentice here at CASCAID, and there is some interesting news that I would like to share about the arts subjects at GCSE.

Recent news has reported that there has been a decline in the uptake of arts subjects – including art and design, drama and performing arts, music, dance and theatre. It has been reported that the number of students taking these GCSEs has fallen to its lowest level in a decade.

One of the reasons why there has been a fall in the uptake of the arts is because of the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) which was introduced by the government in 2010. The Ebacc was introduced to encourage students to take the more core subjects at GCSE. This has meant that students have to take English, maths, three different sciences as well as a foreign language (e.g. French, Spanish or German) and history or geography at GCSE.

A report from The Guardian has stated that the Ebacc has been one of the main problems in the fall of the uptake from independent schools. This is because schools have now merged the arts subjects with design subjects to create the Art & Design GCSE. This may look unattractive or even maybe confuse younger students who are looking at taking an art subject as one of their GCSE’s.

Some reports have also found that there has been a north and south divide in the uptake of an arts subject in the UK.

Here is a summary of the findings:

  • 47.8% of pupils in the north have taken at least one arts subject, compared to 57.3% of the pupils in the south
  • More than 57% of the arts GCSE pupils are being taken by females compared to 42.5% taken by males
  • Children who suffer from Special Educational Needs (SEN) are more likely to take an arts subject which has risen from 2002.
  • Secondary schools entered 51.3% of its pupils for an arts GCSE while private schools only entered 47.6%

Why are the arts trying to be pushed out of the curriculum?

As the arts is not classed as a ‘traditional’ core subject, funding has been cut so some schools have had to reduce their offer of the arts to students who wish to take it at GCSE. The funding cut has resulted in a fall in the number of teachers as well as the number of hours a school dedicates to the arts each year.

Changes on how each school is measured has contributed to the decline in the uptake as the Ebacc subjects give schools a better success rate and help them compete with other schools for more pupils.

What can the arts teach students?

Students who take an art at GCSE say that it teaches them skills that they will need in later life. It helps students plan and present their ideas in a creative way as well as teaching them organisation skills which will help them with revision at GCSE, A level and university or an apprenticeship.

What careers can the arts take students?

The arts as a broad subject can help any student get into jobs such as an artist, designer, actor or even a theatre designer. This is why is it a shame that schools are starting to see a decline in the uptake of the arts GCSE.

At CASCAID we have products like Launchpad that shows students how taking an art at GCSE can open many doors for them and how an arts subject can affect their cultural life.

However, is this a true reflection?

There is some light shown on the situation. According to the EPI, the arts GCSE is now being ‘protected’ by a new course that was introduced by the government in 2016 – Progress 8.

This new course which has been implemented has seen an actual rise in the uptake of the Ebacc by 10%. Progress 8 is very similar to the Ebacc but, three out of the eight subject choices can be a creative arts subject. This has meant that schools can offer the traditional Ebacc choices but students can have the choice to take up to three arts subjects.

The Guardian also had an interesting article where it has stated that arts subjects are the most popular among students currently. This now has had a more reflective view on how the Ebacc has not ‘moved’ the arts subjects out of schools. Also the NSN has found that there is a high number of students taking arts subjects and gaining above average results.

This shows that even though some schools are starting to not offer arts as a subject at GCSE, the students who are have taken the subject have gained excellent results.

Overall, if the arts subjects will be removed by the curriculum for the reason of lower demand, it could mean that some students will not be able to shine and pursue their dreams!


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