Highgate School headteacher champions arts despite thousands turning back on creative subjects
PUBLISHED: 14:08 07 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:08 07 June 2018
A headteacher has vowed to keep the arts "alive and kicking" in his school despite creative subjects being squeezed out of curriculums across the country.
Adam Pettitt was speaking at a conference held at the independent school in which arts subjects were championed by a range of speakers, including actor and writer Meera Syal of The Kumars at Number 42 fame.
In his opening address in the packed auditorium, Mr Pettitt spoke of the detrimental effect EBacc and Progress 8 have had on GCSE choices and the need to encourage the creative arts subjects in schools.
EBacc, or English Baccalaureate, was introduced by the coalition government in 2010 and requires students to secure a C grade or better – or its numeric equivalent – in English and English literature, two sciences, history or geography and a language.
Progress 8, which came into effect in 2016, is the government’s performance tool for state schools in England, looking at a pupil’s performance in eight subjects, including maths, English, three EBacc subjects and three more subjects, EBacc or other.
Mr Pettitt, who insisted the creative arts are “thriving” at Highgate School, argued both government schemes had led to a more academic focus, with creative subjects often feeling the pinch.
“Thousands of pupils are turning their backs on creative arts and we need to change a system which requires a child to choose between subjects long before their time is due,” said Mr Pettitt.
“If a child follows a passion, listens to their heart, they will make the difference, get things done, find solutions, and mobilise their talent and energy.”
Highgate also announced a new arts partnership with the Roundhouse Theatre, which will work across its partner state schools, including the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, a state sixth form launched last year and sponsored by Highgate and Tottenham Hotspur.
Marcus Davey, artistic director at Roundhouse, added: “The arts bring us together, help us mark important moments in our lives, build communities and civic pride and give hope.
“We strongly feel that by linking our organisations and institutions together through culture we build a better society.”