The arts and technical subjects are facing a crisis in English state secondary schools. Our education system currently supports a knowledge-rich, narrow curriculum. This has been reinforced by school accountability measures such as the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and Progress 8, which encourage schools to focus on ‘core’ academic subjects at the expense of subjects such as music, drama, art, dance, and design and technology.
This narrowing of the curriculum has had a dramatic impact on arts and technology subjects at secondary school level. GCSE entries in arts and technology subjects are falling, with the number of pupils taking the design and technology GCSE alone falling by 71% between 2010 and 2022. This is coupled with a decline in teachers teaching these subjects. Between 2011/12 and 2021/22 the number of media studies teachersdropped by 40% and the number of design and technology teachers by 48%. Data also shows that 64% of teaching time in 2021/22 was taken up with teaching EBacc subjects, leaving only a small portion of time for arts, PE, RE or relevant vocational subjects. Teachers agree that the education system is skewed towards academic subjects, with a recent survey finding that less than half of secondary school teachers think the curriculum is ‘broad and balanced’.