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Why We Need to Urgently Address Arts Education Before Its Too Late

30/06/2016 15:57

For the last year I've been involved in helping set up a new project called "The Student Guide to Writing".

This new competition series is designed to provide access for students and aspiring writers to the leading industry training, much of which hasn't ever been published before, so if you're not able to attend workshops or don't know who the industry organisations are, there's been a real difficulty in understanding what is being taught in the writing industry up until now.

With the forthcoming debate on whether arts subjects should be a part of the new EBACC scheduled for July 4th in the Houses of Parliament, I wanted to write now to encourage others to pursue similar projects and campaigns.

If we want to create a more diverse arts industry (where currently only around 30% of writers and artists are female, for example, and working class artists and writers are still poorly represented, as are ethnic minorities) then it seems to me that surely one of the keys to this is to make sure these areas are covered and covered well at school level so all students have the opportunity to know these are possible careers.

The Cultural Learning Alliance's recent figures however show that, since 2010, there has been a 14% decline in the overall number of arts GCSEs taken, the number of hours the arts were taught in secondary schools has fallen by 10%, and the number of arts teachers has dropped by 11%.

That's why it seems to me its important we take action now - there's a great website called "Bacc for the Future" where you can sign a petition and/or write to your MP to support arts subjects being a part of the new EBACC.

For me, in terms of writing, the end of the Creative Writing A Level last year is also particularly worrying, which is why I've spent the last couple of months working with the winners of The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting on a play which explores why its important to be a student in the UK today.

One of the winners is 17 year old Vee Tames who says: ""In the aftermath of the EU referendum, regardless of what side you voted, it has been made clear that students aren't necessarily being listened to. Writing this play hopefully gives young people a voice to speak out about student issues.

I firmly believe the arts and sciences have a symbiotic relationship and if we want our education system to help realise the potential of young people today we need to reinforce that sentiment by giving the arts an equal standing with the sciences in the EBACC programme."

The students' play will be on at London Writers' Week and free tickets can booked via the Bush Theatre website, but, more importantly, we hope it will promote discussion on what we need to do to ensure we are keeping the arts as a possibility for our students to learn about and consider for years to come.

For more information on The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting day please go to: https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/festival/the-student-guide-to-writing-playwriting-day/

For more information on EBACC and the forthcoming debate please go to: http://www.baccforthefuture.com/

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