I was fortunate enough to have been born into a period in British educational history where good quality state comprehensive education was thriving. Gone were the days where a path to higher education was reserved for a privileged few, we were actively encouraged to go to college or university with our fees paid and a grant given by our local council. It sounds like a hazy and distant age away but I’m only talking thirty years ago. As we all know a lot of so called reforms have taken place since that time, making those days almost unrecognisable and beyond recognition to people currently in their twenties.
Coming from a working class background in Leeds I attended a comprehensive high school. Against the wishes of my deputy head teacher, who thought I should concentrate more on academic studies as these would stand me in good stead for work. I chose to take ‘O’ Levels in Art, Music and Drama. Today, at the age of 50 these three subjects are still the mainstay of my career. I now consider myself an artist and have made a steady and reasonably successful career within this field.
Michael Gove’s propose to strip Drama and Physical Education of its curriculum status is not only ill-conceived but also calculatedly cruel to working class children who will be deprived of what I consider to be a basic human right. I know for a fact our ruling class don’t consider these subjects to be worthless. Far from it, Eton boasts not one but two theatres and state of the art sports facilities. Of course the arts and sports will still thrive, but once again only for the privileged elite, those who can afford it.
Meanwhile for children from working class backgrounds access to the arts and sport will be reduced to attending after-school drama and sports clubs delivered by overworked and undervalued teachers and any opportunity of making a career in such disciplines will once again be for the lucky few. So much for the ‘lasting heritage for our young people’ rhetoric we heard so much about from Cameron, Osborne and Johnson during the 2012 Olympics.
“Creativity is as important now in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”
Sir Ken Robinson