Creative Industries Federation criticises government EBacc consultation response

July 19, 2017

The Creative Industries Federation comments on the Department for Education’s consultation response on the implementation of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc):

This response continues the government trend towards devaluing creative subjects which threatens the growth of the creative industries, the fastest growing sector of the UK economy.

The goal of 90% of students taking the EBacc raises concerns for more than a quarter of students in England who take no more than seven GCSEs, meaning they have no space to take creative subjects. This limits the life chances of many of those who would most benefit from non-EBacc subjects, and in time deprives our sector of exceptional talent. 

This report does not address the fact that provision of creative subjects, including design and technology, and numbers of creative GCSEs taken have fallen since the introduction of the EBacc. This not only stands to affect the creative industries but other 21st century industries like tech and engineering. 

John Kampfner, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation said:

This response demonstrates that this government is continuing to pursue a policy that is ill thought through and short-termist - in spite of its claims to want to boost productivity and life chances.

The creative industries have been identified as one of five priority sectors in the government’s industrial strategy in recognition of their economic contribution. However the Department for Education has not answered the sector’s concerns by continuing to sideline creative education in favour of academic subjects.

In recent months the Federation has had informal assurances from ministers and officials across Whitehall that they understand the importance of creative education - but we are waiting for any positive movement, specifically from DfE, that reflects this.


Andrew Stanley, Head of Education Policy, Institution of Civil Engineers said:

This consultation response is very disappointing for the civil engineering sector. Creative and design subjects at GCSE are important routes into civil engineering. The government response does not address declining numbers taking design subjects and the benefits creative subjects bring to our skills pipeline.


In addition to damaging the UK economy, there is evidence that the EBacc will disadvantage students with special educational needs, many of whom could go on to pursue technical pathways and apprenticeships, or to study creative subjects at university.

For example, a quarter of the student population at the University of the Arts London are disabled or dyslexic. They may have struggled to take all 7-8 academic GCSEs in the EBacc, but they excel in creative subjects.


About the EBacc:

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is the government’s headline performance measure for secondary schools. It requires students to take a suite of seven to eight GCSEs in academic subjects - English (2 GCSEs), maths, science (2-3 GCSEs), a modern or ancient foreign language and either history or geography. This consultation response confirms the government aim for 90 per cent of schoolchildren to undertake the EBacc.

Government figures released in June revealed that entries into GCSE creative subjects fell by 46,000 last year (a 9% drop over the past 12 months). This decline is despite the 165,000 increase in the total number of GCSE exam entries and an additional 314,000 entries into GCSEs in EBacc subjects.

Design and Technology entries have been particularly impacted and have fallen by just under 19,000 entries since 2016 – an 11% decrease.

Data from DfE shows that between 2010 and 2014, the number of hours the arts were taught in secondary schools fell by 10% and the number of arts teachers fell by 11%.

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