Context for this Statement
On 1 Jun 2023 Ofqual released their provisional figures regarding the number of entries for GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications in England. The data reveals a decline in enrolments for creative subjects, specifically witnessing a reduction of 7.4% for GCSE Drama and 6.7% for A-Level Drama. The following statement is issued by National Drama in response to these findings.
The recently released figures by Ofqual, which depict the depressing decline in Drama and the Arts, are the inevitable consequence of ill-informed government policies, like limiting students to the Ebacc basket and holding an inaccurate view that the arts develop skills that are not economically valuable. Drama needs to be available to all children in all schools, primary and especially KS3, to make a more robust workforce and more importantly, a better educated, healthier, creative and literate population, able to work together and compromise.
We at National Drama know that the skills, values, ethics and understanding students learn in Drama are hugely valued in all industries – law, education, civil service, retail, new tech, science, medicine, business, ecological entrepreneurship – as well as our world-class and still under-appreciated creative industries.
We know standards matter, to parents and to teachers. Making sure our curriculums really are balanced will raise standards and give more children richer educational, personal, and cultural opportunities, which research shows drives motivation, achievement, progress, enjoyment, and real excellence, rather than photo-shoots, tick boxes, or league tables and data.
The real tragedy, however, is that more and more children and young people are being denied their right to Drama and Theatre education. I wonder if the DfE would like to comment on the fact that their own figures, released today, reveal 27.1% persistence absence in state funded secondary schools? It is perhaps an indication of how many young people find the curriculum unsatisfactory. When will the DfE realise that the curriculum does not include sufficient arts, creative, social and collaborative learning experiences?
National Drama believes that each child’s cultural, social, academic and emotional needs should be at the centre of government priorities, not targets, assessment or league tables.
Vice Chair National Drama