A recent Primary Colours report by British socialist organisation The Fabian Society has stated that there is significantly less arts education in primary schools now than in 2010. The report calls for immediate changes to be made to arts education, suggesting that ‘a greater priority for the arts in the English national curriculum’ and that an enforced premium to support arts funding in schools is essential.
In recent years rising pupil numbers in schools across the country have clashed with ‘the largest education cuts in a generation’, with many schools losing hundreds of pounds per pupil over the last five years. Though schools are given government premiums to ensure that teaching standards in physical education remain high, there are currently no such arts schemes of this kind widely available for state primary schools.
Concerns have also been raised over the lack of specific Ofsted criteria surrounding arts subjects. Teachers claim that the national curriculum for arts and design is ‘sparse’, leading many schools to replace creative subjects in order to respond to pressures on numeracy and literacy. Arts are also often presented as extracurricular opportunities, which are often amongst the first services to be withdrawn when schools face financial strain.
The effect that the lack of arts within the curriculum has on disadvantaged children cannot be ignored: when school funded arts education is removed, poorer students lose access to the arts completely, which increasingly allows the arts industry to become a space for the elite. Primary Colours warns that the Government must take immediate action in order to reverse the ‘devastating reality of arts education in England’ if we are to maintain equal access to the arts for all children.