Schools Programme, Tate Liverpool

Art is as important a subject as reading, writing or arithmetic, Tate director Nicholas Serota said today.

The recently announced proposals for an English Baccalaureate to replace GCSEs for secondary school students do not include the arts as a core subject and suggest that there will be no room in the school timetable for art, design, dance, drama or music.

He said: ‘There is a real risk that fewer and fewer schools will provide learning opportunities in the arts. The UK’s leading edge in creativity may be lost. We cannot deprive an entire generation of children of the cultural skills that they will need.’

In February, Darren Henley of Classic FM published a report for the Departments of Education and Culture, Media and Sport that gave a firm endorsement of the importance of earlier cultural learning in the curriculum. In spite of a favourable response from government, there are now concerns that Henley’s detailed proposals will not be implemented as a result of the review of the curriculum.

Tate believes the arts are central to a rounded curriculum. They significantly boost student achievement and schools integrating arts into their curriculum also show improved student performance in maths, English, critical thinking and verbal skills. Students from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to take a degree. By making art a part of the national curriculum, we give the next generation of artists, designers, engineers, creators and cultural leaders the opportunity to develop the imagination and skills that are vital to our future.

Over 600,000 schoolchildren visited one of Tate’s four galleries in 2011–2, while 49,000 people took part in learning activities in the Clore Learning Centre.