Gove’s climbdown welcomed by arts colleges

One of the most strident critics of the government’s plan to introduce baccalaureate-style examinations to replace GCSEs has welcomed the decision by Michael Gove to abandon the plan.

February 8, 2013

Lord Lipsey, the chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, said he was “delighted” that the education secretary “has seen sense” over the proposals.

Yesterday, Mr Gove told the House of Commons that his plans for an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC) based on core “traditional” subjects - but not others like art and design - was a “bridge too far” and “one reform too many at this time” and that the GCSE would remain but would be reformed.

He also confirmed that the measure by which schools are judged would be extended to include eight subjects rather than five, encompassing artistic and creative fields rather than solely areas like English, maths and science.

“My idea that we end the competition between exam boards to offer GCSEs in core academic qualifications and have just one – wholly new – exam in each subject was just one reform too many at this time,” Mr Gove said.

Lord Lipsey said the move should not be greeted by trotting out “stale political clichés about U-turns; we should be delighted that the education secretary has seen sense”, he said. “Amongst the army of critics [of the policy] the arts have been prominent – and rightly so.”

He said the plans “would have poisoned Britain’s culture at its roots, reducing the standard of students we attract and therefore limiting their ultimate achievement. This is a great day for the arts and a good day for Britain.”

Other specialist arts institutions were quick to add their support of the decision to enfranchise arts subjects.

“It’s good news that Michael Gove has listened to concerns and decided to think again,” said Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor of University of the Arts London.

“I hope he now will work closely with the education and cultural sectors to make sure that arts, design and performance subjects are fully included [in the new curriculum] and taught appropriately.

“We need more detail from the government before we have a clear picture of how arts-based subjects will fare under the new proposals, but overall I think this is a positive outcome.”

Linda Merrick, principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, said: “We believe that subjects such as music should remain accessible to all, irrespective of background, and that their removal from the core curriculum would inevitably result in some students being denied the opportunity to develop their creative skills.

“There is significant evidence that the study of an arts subject enhances students’ success across the wider curriculum, and improves their overall engagement with education.”

john.elmes@tsleducation.com

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