A window to the world: the case for the arts in education

29 September 2015

A film made by two teachers at The St Marylebone CE School about the importance of the arts and creativity in education.

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The St Marylebone CE School is a successful comprehensive school for girls with a mixed sixth form.

Stephanie Cubbin and Pete Thomas, teachers at St Marylebone, worked with head teacher Kat Pugh to make a film about the importance of the arts in schools.

"We wanted to tie our colours to the mast at a time when the socio-economic drive, DfE policy and constraints in state funding pose a threat to the arts in our schools," the teachers said.

The arts have been the fuel behind the success and vibrance of St Marylebone for years. Being a Performing Arts Specialist school means so much more than putting on a great musical or exquisite concert. It has informed our pedagogy, created a culture of confidence and achievement, contributed to excellence in teaching and learning across all our subjects. It is what enables us to develop interested and interesting young people.

Meantime, the establishment message to parents and young people is counter to this. The economic model of schooling (produce employment-ready-employees) is heard by our school community, who worry that they should only take STEM subjects - or that drama and dance are soft options. We could not stand by and let ignorance and headlines fuel the false belief that "creative" subjects are "soft" and hard courses which get you jobs are "academic". Not true! Art, dance, drama and music, well taught, are academically rigorous - and maths, history and science are creative!

We have convinced our school community year-on-year that this is not the case and we have a ground-swell of support but, beyond these ground, it is a battle to be fought yearly and not one we want to fight alone. We know from subject association research and middle management questionnaires that nationally there is a fall in arts lesson time, staffing and provision in schools from primary through to A-level. In higher education too, there are severe cuts to foundation courses and degrees.

That's why we made the film: we know we are not the only people who think this and felt it was important to have their voices join ours.

Enjoy the film!