The End of EBacc - a victory for the arts?
On February 7, Education Minister Michael Gove announced his decisionto withdraw his proposals for a new examination system, commonly known as the E-Bacc. Based on five examined subject ‘pillars’ (Maths, Science, English, Languages and Humanities), Gove also generated controversy in the arts sector because it excluded their ‘pillar’ – the arts.
However, the ‘creative’ critique of the EBacc has tended to defend the arts as a preparation for employment and responsible citizenship, or as an important contributor to a thriving economy and democracy - not for the arts as valuable in and of themselves.
Indeed, campaigners for the ‘sixth pillar’ notably argued that the exclusion of the arts from the EBacc would undermine the creative economy of the future, rather than creativity itself. So, do Gove’s ever changing proposals means a victory for the arts? Or have all subjects suffered under the current regime and left the arts - among others - as a marooned caricature of themselves?
This all raises questions about what exactly is art education and what contribution it makes to children’s education. Should it be statuary and/or part of the core curriculum? Can it be measured by the standards and targets applied in other areas of the curriculum? Should the arts be a sixth pillar? And what do we do if the pillars have crumbled?
Dr Wendy Earle, Impacts and Knowledge Exchange Manager, School of Arts, and School of Social Sciences, Birkbeck College, University of London.
You may find this article about knowing how and knowing that in art education interesting.