The government has unveiled its plans for reforming education in the UK, which include a new grading system, and a list of subjects the government considers to be the ‘core’ needed by students to move onto employment and further education.
Under plans revealed by Education Secretary Michael Grove, schools will be assessed only on what it considers to be core ‘rigorous’ subjects such as maths, English, science, history, geography, and languages, and excludes arts.
The list has received criticism from inside the government. Award winning artist, professor, and Conservative party supporter Tracey Emin CBE, has criticised the reforms for excluding the arts, stating that marginalising art lessons could be devastating, and could lead to violence among teenagers who will look for other outlets to express their emotions.
Emin told The Independent newspaper “Michael Gove has to rethink the policy. If art isn’t considered as important as other subjects it will just fall by the wayside. It can’t become a secondary subject.” Emin went on to cite her work with troubled teenagers and the positive changes that can be achieved through art, especially in poor, inner-city schools.
“If anyone thought the riots in 2011 were bad, take the arts out of the curriculum and it will be worse than it was before,” Emin told The Independent.
The performance tables will show how many students get AAB or better in maths and further maths, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and modern and classical languages.
It will not only be arts subjects which will be affected by the new reforms. Vocational and practical subjects will also be marginalised, causing concern among charities and business leaders.
Although the government have said that no school will be prevented from offering qualifications in the arts or vocational or practical subjects, the focus will be on the governments list, which will reflect on the perceived performance of schools by parents.
With performance being linked to funding, schools will be forced to ensure that they direct their meagre resources to the core subjects or face further cuts. The core subjects fail to take into account individual educational needs and processes. While some may be able to retain and regurgitate information at will, others need to be stimulated and learn through expression and practical skills.
Arts and practical subjects are essential for young people to explore the world and themselves. They are a valuable way for them to express their emotions and feelings and to develop a healthy and well-balanced view of the world they live in. By stimulating their imagination, they will be able to develop new possibilities for the world they are going to live in.
The only outcome of these reforms is to force schools to concentrate on core subjects and to limit the concept of free thinking and expression. More indoctrination, more compliance, and lots of little robots for the future.