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Prioritise creative education in UK schools – report

A landmark report on creative industries policy in the UK recommends giving priority to creative education in schools, ending unequal access to the arts, and focussing on the regenerative power of creativity.

The State of Creativity was launched by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (Creative PEC) in April 2023 at a conference attended by policymakers, researchers and industry professionals. 

According to the report, the UK government’s stated focus on improving the country’s capabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has consistently been reflected in educational policy statements over the last decade. 

However, the creative industries have been limited to a reactive role in education and skills policy in England, with advocates being confined to explaining the distinctive ways work is organised in these industries and proposing remedial corrections. 

The report’s authors recommend a more proactive approach, involving the creative industries at the outset in shaping policies to deliver post-16 and lifelong learning initiatives, given their contributions to economic growth. 

The rise in artificial intelligence and mobile robotics technologies has raised fears about the impact automation. However, research has found creative jobs to be more resistant to this impact, with the demand for creative digital skills set to see especially rapid growth. 

Despite these insights, creative skills have been devalued in educational policy in England, with art and design deprioritised in the national curriculum, leaving their cause to be championed in after-school clubs and other extracurricular activities. 

However, the new curriculum in Wales includes Expressive Arts as one of its six pillars, and in Scotland, the Curriculum for Excellence focussed on developing core competencies, including creativity, although the growth of STEM has led to a dilution of these principles. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, the introduction of Moving Image Arts qualifications has illustrated the possibilities for work in the creative industries.

Hasan Bakhshi, Director of the Creative PEC, said, ‘The creative industries are no longer an unsung success story in the UK’s industrial strategy, but their place in mainstream policies in areas like education, skills, immigration and the climate emergency is not yet secured. 

‘The challenge for the Creative PEC during the next five years is to ensure that policies across government – not just in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – are grounded in an assessment of Creative Britain’s needs, informed by robust evidence.’

More information

Download The State of Creativity here