Exam entries show continued pressure on creative arts

24 May 2018

Commenting on Ofqual’s statistics on entries for GCSE, AS and A levels in the summer 2018 exams, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Entries for GCSEs once again show that creative arts and technology subjects are being driven to the fringes of the curriculum by the government’s focus on the English Baccalaureate suite of subjects in school performance tables. The number of candidates has fallen in all non-EBacc subjects except for art and design which has recovered slightly after decreasing last year. These include entries to drama, music and design & technology. Unsurprisingly, the pressure on these subjects has a knock-on effect at A level where we also see declining entries.

“Today’s figures also show a massive fall in AS entries. The government’s decision to ‘decouple’ AS levels, so that they don’t count towards A levels, has made these courses increasingly unsustainable in schools and colleges, and means students now tend to take three subjects instead of four in this phase of education.

“The evidence is clear that the government’s reforms have led to reduced subject choice for students and a decline in creative arts and technology entries. Schools and colleges are doing their best to preserve a broad curriculum for their students despite performance measures and funding pressures which are working in the opposite direction.

“We are pleased to see an increase in entries to GCSE German and Spanish this year, but we are concerned that the take-up of modern foreign languages at A level has declined. It is clear that we need a national strategy to promote modern foreign languages and improve teacher supply in these very important subjects.”