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The Tories' ‘indefensible’ education reforms blasted for ‘absolutely devastating’ cultural subjects

Lord Kenneth Baker laments his party's ‘costly and damaging experiment’ on art, music, drama and design and technology school subjects

CULTURAL education in schools has sharply declined due to “virtually indefensible” reforms introduced by the government, the Tory founder of the GCSE declared yesterday.

Lord Kenneth Baker, who created the GCSE system as Margaret Thatcher’s education secretary in 1988, has blamed the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) for the decreasing quality of cultural education in Britain’s schools.

To obtain an EBacc certificate a pupil must achieve five GCSEs to a grade 5 standard (considered a “strong pass”) or above, in maths, English literature, English language, at least two sciences, a language, and either geography or history.

The EBacc was established in 2010 by then education secretary Michael Gove to stop what he called the “dumbing down” of GCSEs.

But Lord Baker said that the emphasis on these subjects has had “absolutely devastating” consequences for “cultural” subjects such as art, music, drama and design and technology (DT).

He argued that Mr Gove’s “failed” reforms have “done a lot of damage” and comprise “a costly and damaging experiment.”

As students across Britain prepare to receive their GCSE results on Thursday, Lord Baker said that since 2010 enrolments for DT had fallen by 65 per cent, dance by 46 per cent, drama by 29 per cent, and music by 24 per cent.

He said the EBacc had been a crucial factor in these declines and said it was “disgraceful” that the new system was still “hanging around.”

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney told the Star: “Alongside the funding cuts schools and colleges have faced in recent years, the EBacc has caused the destruction of creative and technical subjects as well as [physical education], [religious education] and social studies.

“Education professionals are best placed to help students consider what courses are best for them and we should seek to create a system which is flexible enough to enable that.

“The evidence against the EBacc is mounting and government must leave it behind to ensure that future students are saved from the impoverished curriculum experienced by those in recent years.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The EBacc is at the core of our mission to drive up social mobility by encouraging all young people to take the core academic subjects that are essential for keeping their options open for further study and careers.”

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