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Opinion: It's time to make our voices heard in the bid to protect art and design

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Editor Rob Alderson explains why It’s Nice That has signed up to the #includedesign campaign and why it’s crucial art and design in schools is not downgraded. As ever, we welcome your comments below

“We want the words: ‘Made in Britain’, ‘Created in Britain’, ‘Designed in Britain’ and ‘Invented in Britain’ to drive our nation forward – a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers.” So said Chancellor George Osborne in one of his first budget statements, and the creative community hoped that maybe here was a Government that understood and appreciated its power and its massive potential. But fast forward to the last days of 2012 and suddenly things look far less rosy.

The Government’s proposal to exclude art and design from the core elements of the new exam system – the English Baccalaureate or EBacc – has been met with dismay. It’s Nice That has joined a host of design-focussed organisations, from bodies like The Design Council and the Design Museum to agencies like Berg, Poke and ustwo, to fellow publishers Vice to call for a rethink. Recent studies have shown that schools are likely to drop subjects which have less weight attached to them, leading to fears of a “lost generation” of designers.

And there’s two ways in which this would be a huge problem. Much of the noise being made from the #includedesign campaign has come at it from the industry point of view, lamenting the effects these changes could have on an increasingly significant sector of the UK economy. At a time when success stories are few and far between it seems crazy to handicap one of those areas which is doing well.

But alongside this macro concern about the industry, we have a real worry that it will put young people off studying these subjects. It’s very common to see creatives credit an inspirational school teacher for setting them on the path to an art and design career. If we undermine those opportunities then we risk undermining the whole edifice on which the UK’s creative industry is built – namely the host of super-talented graduates which come out of our education system. Without them, the whole house comes tumbling down. This must not be allowed to happen.

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.

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