Creative educators warn EBacc could lead to UK 'losing a generation of talent'

22.01.2013, von Neil Bennett

Representatives from creative education have rounded on the British government's plans to introduce a replacement set of qualifications for all 15 to 16 year olds that excludes creative subjects such as art and design.

At a recent session, learning experts from universities and professional development bodies told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that schools concentrating on teaching the 'five pillars' of the EBacc (English, Maths, Science, a language and a humanities subject such as history) would lead to students having lower level creative skills overall - and fewer students going on to study creative subjects. The consequence of this would be that the pool of new talent that regularly rejuvenates the creative industries would shrink - to the detriment of industries that play a major part in the British economy.

Other risks to the success of the UK's high-profile creative education system - including tuition fees and access by foreign students - were also discussed.

Unlike the #includedesign and Bacctothefuture campaigns, which have focused on getting creative subjects included as a sixth pillar, some of those involved in the session are taking a different approach. Like those supporting the campaigns - including Digital Arts - they fear that exclusion of such subjects from the EBacc - and therefore from league tables - will see schools giving less funding and attention to them in favour of those areas that they are judged on.

"One of the unintended consequences of rigorous focus on the five key pillars is that by default schools will be measured on their performance around those five core areas," noted Dinah Caine, CEO of professional development organisation Creative Skillset, "which starts to act as a disincentive to offers arts and creative subjects."

"The problem with eBacc isn't that we shouldn't have five pillars of essential learning, it's the impact of that on other areas of learning," agreed Professor Stuart Bartholomew, principal and vice chancellor at The Arts University at Bournemouth, "and the potential of them being pushed to the periphery and us losing a generation of talents as a consequence."