It’s not often that you can feel that your own personal campaigning and that of an industry can really persuade a government to change direction on a significant policy. But as of yesterday plans to do away with GCSEs in England and replace them with English Baccalaureate Certificates, which were to significantly diminish the value of art and design are now being abandoned by the government.
The reversal was announced by Michael Gove, the education secretary, who said plans for the new exams had been “a bridge too far, my idea was just one reform too many at this time.”
What he could have said was, “the design community and educationalists who know what they are talking about have repeatedly berated me for taking so long to understand how important design, music,art, the creative curriculum, are to job creation, wealth creation, Britain’s status in the world and to well being.”
This was the letter that I, amongst others, signed back in Nov 2012:
Dear Michael Gove,
We write to you on behalf of the UK design industry. Collectively we champion good design – our ideas and their impact have shaped society and changed the way people live. We are the largest design industry in Europe and one of the strongest globally, contributing approximately £33.5 billion annually to the UK’s GDP. Creativity is the driving force behind what we do and we are proud to be part of a diverse industry.
We feel strongly that the omission of subjects such as Design & Technology and Art & Design from the English Baccalaureate will fail to provide students with a fully rounded education. The development of an English Baccalaureate affords the Government an opportunity to enhance the educational outcomes of future generations. It is an opportunity to create a generation of polymaths, who will stand the best chance of improving our international standing, make us more competitive and contribute to our future economic growth.
The design industry has grown by 29 per cent during this recent period of recession (2005-2010). As employers in, and representatives of, this growing industry, we rely on our education system to develop inspired and well-rounded new entrants. Omitting creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate will potentially starve our world leading design sector of its future pioneers.
We are proud of the heritage of our education, and the prospect of future generations growing up considering subjects such as design and the arts as unimportant is simply incomprehensible.
We urge you to rethink the Government’s proposal to exclude these subjects from the English Baccalaureate and to add a sixth pillar option for design and the arts into the EBacc. They are vital components of a fully accessible and varied education system and crucial to the UK’s future growth and success.
The Design Industry.
In the end we have to give credit to Michael Gove to have the guts to make this U turn.