The importance of creativity

On Wednesday, I was out of school at a conference for school leaders in Taunton. The conference was packed full of information I needed to know: the latest updates on school funding, on exam results, on Ofsted, on Department for Education policy, on teacher recruitment and retention….a lot of information! But, in the middle of the session on exam results, we were shown a chart from a BBC survey on examination entries in 2018. The chart showed the decline in exam entries across the country for arts subjects.

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Photography taken by Year 13 during the 2018 snow

The presenters at the conference told us that exam entries for the Performing Arts fell by 44% in 2018. This is on top of falling numbers historically: in 2015, the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Values, found that between 2003 and 2013 there was a 23% drop in GCSE entries for drama. Research carried out by Sussex University in 2017 warned that “music could face extinction” in secondary schools.

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The cast of Singin’ in the Rain

Of course, it is important for all students to have a secure foundation in academic subjects. Churchill’s core curriculum in our personalised stage (Years 9-11) requires students to take English, Maths, Science, and two more subjects chosen from French, Spanish, History, Geography and Computer Science, because we agree that a core curriculum of academic subjects is the right thing for our students.

But not at the expense of the arts!

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The performers at this week’s Young Musician of the Year competition

The creative arts is one of this country’s most thriving industries. We are world leaders in music, drama, theatre, film, media and art – there are strong, viable careers for our young people in the creative industries. If these subjects aren’t offered, we are closing the door on those futures. Even if you don’t go on to work in the arts, studying a creative subject brings with it much needed confidence, empathy, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and reflection.

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Last year’s Junior Choir in action

What makes me angry is that ensuring all students have a strong academic core curriculum does not mean the arts have to suffer. At Churchill, the arts are thriving. The school is full of music, dance, drama, and art. This year, we have 72 students taking Performing Arts courses in Year 9 – five more than the previous year. We have 41 students taking Music – an increase of more than 30% on two years ago. And as for Art itself, we have 79 students taking Art or Textiles in Year 9 – ten more than the year before. All of those students study core academic subjects too!

It’s such a shame that schools up and down the country are reducing provision in these subjects. As Headteacher of Churchill, I will continue to defend our exceptional arts provision: our children’s creativity depends on it!

3 thoughts on “The importance of creativity

  1. A really excellent, insightful and timely article – thank you.
    The Arts Council recently commissioned two new independent reports which highlight significant economic growth in arts and culture.

    Contribution of the arts and culture industry to the UK economy
    This report is an update of the Centre for Economics and Business Research’s (Cebr) 2015 study, on behalf of Arts Council England, on the contribution made by the arts and culture industry to the UK’s national and regional economies.

    The report includes new figures that show;

    New figures show the arts and culture industry has grown 10% in a year, and now contributes £8.5bn to the UK economy. More than double that of the Premier League.
    There were £5.2bn exports of arts and culture goods and services in 2013, more than 3 times that of UK film sector. With 84% going outside the EU.
    Culture pays £2.6bn in taxes, £5 for every £1 of public funding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly why we wanted our daughter to attend Churchill. We are very grateful for the importance you have placed on these subjects and the enthusiasm of the staff. All of which makes for a rounded and happy pupil.

    Liked by 1 person

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