Art, music and drama lessons are being downgraded and dwindling in schools leaving children without a well rounded creative education.
That’s the view of two Birmingham councillors who argue that schools are ditching creative classes because the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), the standard for secondary education introduced a few years ago, only counts GCSEs in English, maths, sciences, language, history and geography.
Researchers have found that since EBacc was introduced staffing and classes in creative subjects, as well as design and technology has been reduced and teachers made redundant in many schools.
Councillors Liz Clements (Lab, Bournville and Cotteridge) and Olly Armstrong (Lab, Northfield) have now calling on city council colleagues to back a motion calling on the Department for Education to ammend the EBacc to include at least one creative subject.
The pair have also made their case in detail on BirminghamLive’s political podcast Banana Republic .
Cllr Armstrong, who works in community arts, said creativity has been sidelined because they are not things which can be measured easily.
“We’re stripping out the heart of creativity, the heart and soul of who we are if we take the arts out of education,” he argued.
Cllr Clements added: “The EBacc is about reintroducing rigour into the curriculum. But I think you need a broad education and a lot children have an interest and aptitude for music or drama or a creative subject.”
She said a whole generation of kids are being denied this well rounded education because they have been “studying music is a waste of time because it doesn’t lead to a job”.
The Labour councillor is a member of the amateur Asklepios Orchestra which is based at the QE hospital.
She said that orchestra members, many of who are doctors and hospital staff, had raised their concerns and pointed out that skills learned playing a musical instrument is of benefit to surgeons - both need to be very good with their hands and fingers.
Cllr Clements pointed out that while those who can afford the time and money for drama or music classes outside school will continue, many less well off pupils will miss out.
They also point out that some of Britain's most successful businesses and employers are in the creative sector like TV production, computer game design, animation, popular music and theatre
The case for creative subjects has also been made more widely and a study in Norfolk, reported by teaching magazine TES found that 40 per cent of schools had cut staffing in creative areas and 60 per cent had reported fewer pupils taking art and design or design and technology at GCSE since the EBacc was introudced.
The Department for Education responded to TES that arts are an essential part of a well-balanced curriculum and that schools studying the EBacc have not seen a larger decline in the rate of pupils studying the arts.
The Labour run council backed the motion put forward by the two councillors.
But he Conservative opposition had tabled a rival motion defending the current EBacc and saying that it is raising standards in schools.
Their motion stated: "Schools should provide a curriculum with an academically rigorous core for all, plus broader opportunities in the arts and sport.
"The EBacc provides that rigorous core, with scope around it for individual schools and individual pupils to decide what is best for them to enrich their broader curriculum."
They said the council should encourage schools to take up arts and creative subjects without making it compulsory.