This week the winner of the Turner Prize was announced. Both the presenter, Jude Law, and the winner, Elizabeth Price, took the opportunity to raise the issue of proposed changes to the UK secondary school curriculum, which could see arts subjects left out of the timetable for many students. 

  • Turner Prize 2012 winner: Elizabeth Price

Jude Law suggested that these changes to the curriculum for 11-15 year olds would ‘blunt our leading edge in the arts’ and that by ‘depriv[ing] a generation of cultural skills, we lose a generation of cultural leaders.’

Elizabeth Price approached it from the standpoint of her own career, which she described as unimaginable without her excellent comprehensive education, rich in art and music. She ended her acceptance speech by saying she found it depressing that in the years to come ’ a young girl going to comprehensive school in Luton might not be able to imagine being an artist’.

They were not the first to raise concerns about the current government proposals. Back in November, many influential figures from across the arts urged the government to rethink, while Director of Tate, Nicholas Serota put it like this in a piece for The Guardian newspaper explaining the changes and benefits of the arts education as part of a varied curriculum:

The proposals that have been announced for the new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) do not include the arts as a core subject, and the way in which the proposals have been formulated suggests that art, design, dance, drama and music will be pushed to the margins with very little space in the timetable for these subjects.

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.

So for this week’s Tate Debate, Tate Kids teamed up with pupils at Rotherhithe Primary School in London to investigate the issues. As the people who will be directly affected by the changes, they interviewed their classmates, teachers, an Artis creative learning specialist, Nicholas Serota and artist Bob and Roberta Smith to get a picture of what the EBacc might mean for them.

What do you think?

Should arts subjects be an integral part of the school curriculum for that age group? Do you think providing afterschool clubs or extra-curricular activities can be a substitute? Or, like Elizabeth Price, have you had an experience through formal education or outside school that shaped your career in the arts?

Will changes to education policy change access to or interest in the arts in wider society?


im not entirely clear why jude law and elizabeth price assumed the arts as a given curriculum perhaps it is their way of convincing children of the me generations importance, from my perspective, printing, photography, recordings &c have produced more hype then worth, the amount of printing ink and photo chemical pollution and visual poison far surpasses the contributions actually made over the last fifty years, just go to any landfill its full of toxins from pottery glazes, printing ink lead to water contamination from photo chemical labs the list goes on and on and its not getting any better, many cultures developed their artistic heritage from their families, friends or location not classroom mimics using children as their pawns for a future audience, theres plenty of decoration to last the next thousand years and it was the previous generations self-serving attitude which the future generation will be expected to pay for, but will they pay for it after they learn how they were dupped into debt by adults who wanted them to think they cared?