International: British Pupils Spend Less Time on Music, Art and Drama

English secondary school students are spending less time on music, art and drama courses than in 2011, new government data has found.

An analysis by Tes of the Department for Education showed that as pupils reach year 10 and 11, time being spent on teaching art, music and drama falls significantly. Art is down 20 percent while music and drama dip 12 percent and 26 percent respectively.

More time is now devoted to English, maths and science, which collectively account for 51 percent of teaching time to GCSE candidates. This represents a growth from 44.5 percent in 2011.

“We believe schools should be making their own curriculum decisions that are in the best interests of the young people in their school,” said Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

“However, the reality is that performance measures are what schools are judged on, so this puts an undue amount of pressure on leaders, governors and trusts.”

Co-director of the Cultural Learning Alliance Sam Cairns said the decline in art lessons at schools is a “social justice issue” that affects poorer students negatively. “The middle classes continue to provide their children with access to arts, if they are no longer provided in school,” said Cairns. “So they continue to enjoy the benefits while the kids whose parents can’t pay don’t get the same boost.”

A spokesperson for the Department said £500 million was to be invested in music and arts education programs between 2016 and 2020 to boost music education and help “talented pupils from all backgrounds attend prestigious arts institutions, such as the Royal Ballet School in London and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.”