No outlet for creativity

Growing evidence of EBacc’s negative impact on arts GCSE’s

In March 2017, University of Sussex research involving more than 700 secondary schools in England revealed that nearly 60% of teachers from state schools believed the controversial English Baccalaureate (EBacc) was having a negative impact on the numbers of students choosing to study music

Bacc for the Future – report on GCSE uptake 2016-17

In August this year, the Bacc for the Future campaign reported on the GCSE results figures for the 2016-17 academic year which showed an 8.4% drop in the uptake of creative, artistic and technical subjects from the previous year. The subjects that faced the most severe decline in uptake were Performing/ Expressive Arts (-17%), Media/Film/TV Studies (-12%), Design and Technology (-11%) and Music (-7.7%).

Education Policy Institute – report on GCSE uptake 2007-16

In September, a report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) showed that the number of entries to arts subject GCSE’s in 2016 had fallen to the lowest of the decade. The report used data covering arts subject entries by Key Stage 4 cohorts between 2007 and 2016.

The report found that the average number of arts entries per pupil fell from 0.80 in 2013 to 0.70 in 2016; this followed an increase from 0.75 in 2010. The proportion of pupils taking at least one arts subject declined from 57.1% in 2014 to 53.5% in 2016. Again, this followed an increase from 55.6% in 2010.
If the same proportion of pupils had taken at least one arts entry in 2016 as in 2014, then around 19,000 more pupils would have taken an arts subject. EPI reported that the provisional data relating to 2017 exam entries indicated that the decline is continuing.

Taking Part – research into participation in the arts outside of school

During the same month as the EPI report, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Taking Part survey for 2016-17 was also published. Taking Part started measuring young people’s participation in the arts in 2008-09 and measures five to 10-year-olds’ engagement with the arts outside of school and 11 to 15-year-olds’ engagement both in and outside of school.

Engagement in music activities among young people aged 11 to 15 has been on a slow and steady decline since it reached a peak in 2011-12 when 77% reported participating. This proportion fell substantially over the last year from 70% to 61%. This was also reflected in a fall in the proportion of young people practicing an instrument, which fell from 34% to 29%, and performing in front of an audience, which fell from 22% to 18%.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Education Policy Institute: &
The Guardian:
Department for Culture, Media & Sport:
Arts Professional:
Arts Professional:
BACC For The Future:
University of Sussex:


  1. Thanks for compiling this. The 2017 figures also show a further decrease, backing up our research. I will try and get something together to share if nobody has done this already.

    Fab site – so valuable.




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