To make up for lost education during the lockdown, the UK government recently advised primary schools in particular to prioritise ‘progress in the essentials’. Consequently, many have voiced concerns regarding the implications this may have for the arts in English primary schools. The artist known as Bob & Roberta Smith has spoken out against the idea of a ‘catch-up’ curriculum, suggesting that this could potentially ‘damage the creative potential of this country, stunting our ability to draw and design the future’.
Many educators and artists believe the arts are more important than ever at this time. They are calling for a renewed focus on the arts in schools as a response to the emotional fallout of the national pandemic.
The government’s announcement echoes the messages which have resounded throughout the pandemic suggesting that pupils – especially those from deprived backgrounds – are falling behind or need to catch up. This catch-up rhetoric often seems to focus exclusively on the core subjects such as numeracy, literacy and science at the expense of the arts. But surely the arts have merit of their own which warrants their inclusion in a ‘catch-up’ curriculum? In fact they could provide what children and teachers need most.
In my own PhD research exploring visual art’s position in the early years curriculum in disadvantaged primary schools across England, the 25 teachers I have interviewed so far (more…)