The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) has recently published the latest (2015-2016) research report into the impact of government policies on our subject over the last five years. This is an important report and should be read by everyone interested in art and design education. Below is a copy of the introduction to the report by Ged Gast, President of NSEAD and a member of the ESAG for Art and Design.
Many parents believe that the curriculum is an entitlement and that their children should have a choice to study subjects to examination level where they show exceptional abilities and commitment. Until recently such an entitlement has meant that children and young people could pursue their interests in education, leading to careers in the creative, media and design industries.
These same industries are the envy of the world and continue to be one of the most successful sectors in the UK, outperforming most others. This is why this survey report comes at such a crucial time for art, craft and design education. It is a health check for our subject, with findings that indicate a context of increasing misunderstanding and less regard for art, craft and design education, the arts and technology. Without this survey, there would be little evidence of the impact of government policy and the restructured curriculum, which seeks to address the very real problem of standards in English and mathematics and the qualification profile at 16 plus. However important it is to address such problems, it is never appropriate to do so by limiting curriculum breadth or subjects which contribute towards the personal growth and aspirations of children and young people, as well as their future career choices.
This survey provides evidence of the growing impact of these changes, foisted on schools through a culture of subject devaluation by policies which imply that even successful study and high standards of achievement in the arts will limit career and university choices. For those who would benefit from the transferable skills accessed through the arts, or for those who aspire to a successful, rewarding and world-class career in one of our creative and media industries, this report identifies how policy decisions are beginning to disadvantage some children and young people.
Furthermore, the impact of policies on the dedicated teachers who deliver our subject is also carefully evidenced in this report. In the wake of the Department for Education’s Government Response to the Workload Challenge, 2015, the NSEAD’s key survey findings show that the wellbeing and workload of art and design teachers should be urgently considered and addressed.
There are important messages here for parents and carers, teachers, senior leaders and school governors, as well as Ofsted inspectors, politicians and leaders of industry. I urge you to read this survey and recognise the descriptions of circumstances and damage that has already been done within our schools, and to the aspirations of children and young people who want to develop their creative skills to enrich our culture, contributing to future prosperity and industry.