‘Passion for the arts should be embraced – not restricted’

PRINCIPAL Phil Munday of Henry Cort Community College is a supporter of the arts
PRINCIPAL Phil Munday of Henry Cort Community College is a supporter of the arts

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IN September, Michael Gove announced controversial plans for a fundamental change in the examination structure and the scrapping of GCSEs.

Like many headteachers, I was sceptical about the examination shake-up and disappointed about omitting the arts and drama from the core curriculum.

Then in February, the government announced an extraordinary U-turn and the arts will now be among the subjects on which schools’ performance will be measured.

I’ve been in teaching for over 35 years and during my career I have seen some radical shifts in education.

The initial intention was to develop entirely new examinations to be called English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) which would replace GCSEs. From the outset, it was clear that plans would not only reduce the role played by coursework across the curriculum and mark an end to controlled assessments, but worryingly, that subjects such as art, design, music, dance and drama were considered to be less academic as core subjects.

I am delighted that the latest shift in government thinking paints a more positive picture for the arts and that the value of a balanced curriculum has been recognised.

But as changes in education policies continue to unravel and retreat, I am mindful that we are in danger of delivering a two tier system, rewarding the most able students and potentially diminishing opportunities for many others.

It is clear that the inclusive comprehensive system as we know it is set to change, but to what extent, only time will tell.

For now at least, art is in the big picture!