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Arts Teaching

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 18 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the present teaching of arts subjects in secondary schools.

The recent survey by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of secondary education in England commented on the need for breadth and balance in the curriculum up to the age of 16 and on the implications of this for both arts and other subjects generally. These issues will be pursued in the forthcoming consultations on a framework for the curriculum.

While I accept the fact that there is an urgent need to familiarise young people with new technology, does not the Minister feel that the additional leisure that the Government are increasingly forcing on people requires them to pursue other activities. Does he agree that the downgrading of arts subjects in our education system is of great concern? Will he give the matter urgent attention?

The report of the inspectorate on secondary education indicates that there should be a balanced curriculum throughout, with which I am sure we all agree. That involves the teaching of art. The number of passes in O-level art increased by nearly 20,000 between 1967 to 1977, and the number of passes in CSE art increased five times in that period.