Leaders of the UK’s theatre industry have added their support to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s recommendation that a creative or technical subject be included in the new EBacc qualification.
A survey of the Members and Member Representatives of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Theatrical Management Association (TMA), organisations that represent the interests of those engaged in the production and presentation of medium to large-scale dramatic and lyric theatre in the UK, found that 88% of industry leaders agreed with the CBI’s proposal.
In an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, The Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and TMA, made clear that if the plans for the EBacc went ahead without any provision for a creative or technical subject, it would likely have a devastating effect on an industry that employs more than 80,000 people and contributes billions to the UK economy each year, as it would create a hole in the skilled workforce needed to ensure that the UK retains its reputation as a cultural force.
Bird commented: “Managers of the UK’s commercial and subsidised theatres are concerned that not including the arts in the proposed EBacc will have a negative impact on broader skills development, social mobility and in ensuring the UK has the creative workforce it needs in the 21st Century. As major employers of trained creative students, the current proposals threaten the supply of talent needed to maintain one of the few industries where the UK is currently internationally regarded as a world leader.”
The EBacc, or English Baccalaureate, is due to replace the current GCSE system of testing 16 year olds from the autumn of 2015, when 14 year olds will begin the two year course. The qualification will consist of five ‘core’ subjects; English, maths, a science, a foreign language and either history or geography. Pupils wanting to take subjects outside the EBacc will be able to continue taking them, though the focus being placed on ‘core’ subjects is already creating a year-on-year decline in pupils engaging with arts and cultural subjects.
The open letter, sent last week, urges the government to rethink its plans and place creativity at the heart of the new qualification, warning that not doing so would be a regressive step.