Creative industries keep up attack on Government education policy

The Government’s plan to overhaul the GCSE examination system, and cut out creative subjects including design, is facing a two-pronged attack from the creative industry.

Education Secretary Michael Gove

Source: Regional Cabinet

Education Secretary Michael Gove

A letter was handed in to Downing Street yesterday, signed by more than 100 representatives from the worlds of education, art, design, sport and industry, asking for the consultation period on the proposed English Baccalaureate curriculum to be extended.

At the same time a cross-party group of MPs and peers sent an open letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove to protest at the exclusion of creative subjects from the Ebacc syllabus.

Consultation on the English Baccalaureate Certificates closed on 10 December 2012, and the EBCs could be brought in to replace GCSEs by 2017.

However, the English Baccalaureate proposals have come under sustained attack from the creative industries for excluding creative subjects such as design & technology and art & design. Instead, the Ebacc system is based around five ‘pillars’ (English, maths, science, a language and a humanities subject, such as history).

In the design industry, campaign group #IncludeDesign – supported by hundreds of individuals and organisations across the creative industries including Sir Jonathan Ive, architect Lord Foster and Design Week – has kept up pressure on the Government through a series of letters and petitions.

#IncludeDesign says excluding creative subjects from the Ebacc curriculum could have a devastating effect not just on the creative industries but on the economy as a whole, with design currently accounting for around 2.2 per cent of UK GDP, or £33.5 billion annually.

Include Design

And as part of its campaign, pressure group Bacc for the Future, which is calling for Ebacc reform, yesterday delivered a letter to Downing Street calling for an extension to the Ebacc consultation period and a more open dialogue about the content of Ebacc.

Signatories to the letter include human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Seymour Powell co-founder Dick Powell, Cog Design director Michael Smith and Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic.

Deborah Annetts, co-ordinator of the Bacc for the Future campaign, says, ‘As they stand, these proposals will undermine our world-leading education system and our world-leading creative industries.

‘The creative sector wants the Government to slow down and think carefully about the way forward. Whether it is called a GCSE or EBC, we need to ensure that there is one type of qualification, and not a two-tier system which treats creative subjects as second class.’

Meanwhile an open letter to Gove, sent by a group of MPs and Peers yesterday, attacks his position on creative subjects as ‘facile and depressing, and [displaying] his ignorance of the nature of creative subjects’.

The letter is signed by Barry Sheerman MP, co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group, as well as Design Commission chairman Lord Bichard and Baroness Janet Whitaker, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara and Baroness Denise Kingsmill.

The letter calls on Gove to reconsider excluding creative subjects from Ebacc, suggesting that to do otherwise ‘will only be to the detriment of our future economy and international competitiveness’.

The Department for Education is understood to be publishing its own summary of Ebacc consultation later this year, and a recent report in the Times Educational Supplement suggests that Gove may be forced to back down on key elements of his plan.

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