News / Art

Prince Charles and Tom Watson want to see educational reform for the UK’s young creatives



Both senior royals and senior members of the opposition party seem to be united on the fact that UK schools, and the local education authorities responsible for their upkeep, should be placing more focus on creatively-minded subjects.

After an event hosted by the Prince of Wales’ Children & the Arts charity, held at the Royal Albert Hall, and attended by the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Lenny Henry, and musical maestro, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson pledged to ensure that creativity was at the heart of any future curriculum the party was responsible for.

Potential educational reform was at the heart of the evening’s discussion, with even the man behind Evita moved to say, ““Arts in education – whatever anybody may like to say – have had their funding reduced and I believe this to be a great, great mistake.”

In 2017, the Educational Policy Institute found that the percentage of students taking arts subject at GCSE level had dropped to its lowest level in a decade. One of the reasons for this is the switch many schools have made, which sees 15 and 16 year old pupils enrolled in the EBacc scheme, prioritising English language and literature, maths, the sciences, geography, history, and modern foreign languages over subjects in the arts. There’s also the decidedly thorny issue of post-austerity funding cuts to local councils and authorities.

The EBacc decision has been described by the Labour shadow culture secretary Tom Watson as, “sidelining vital creative subjects year by year.” Watson went on to tell the Guardian that, “as soon as Labour is in government we will put it right by putting creativity and arts back at the heart of children’s education.”

He assured the broadsheet paper that this would be achieved with a tri-pronged restructuring across the education system, with increased creative careers advice being offered in schools, alongside an EBacc review to ensure that arts subjects weren’t being pushed further and further away from pre-college pupils, and what’s being described as an arts pupil premium to every primary school.

With the next UK general election not scheduled til 5 May 2022, the nation’s infant creatives might have a while to wait before any major revamps are made to the system.