League table plans could marginalise the arts


From 2014, schools where students take dance and drama at GCSE will see them listed as one qualification in league tables, which risks marginalising performing arts, say head teachers.

Duncan Baldwin of the head teachers' union ASCL, said: "Some schools may be tempted to say, 'If we can't count both we won't let pupils do both.'" He added that the changes would also affect some other pairs of related subjects such as art and photography or music and music technology - which will no longer count as separate subjects for performance tables from next summer

The government says it has taken this step because the subject matter is too similar in subjects like dance and drama.

The principle behind "discounting" very similar qualifications is to prevent some schools manipulating the performance tables by entering pupils for the same subject twice and having both grades count.

Mr Baldwin argued that some of the pairs of subjects which now cancelled each other out were definitely distinct disciplines, and this was a debate about where you draw the line.

He added that the changes were concentrated disproportionately on arts subjects rather than on the humanities or sciences.

"History and ancient history will continue to be counted as separate subjects and there is maths in science subjects.

"The question is - at what point is there sufficient overlap for them to be ruled effectively the same?"

In a statement, the Department for Education said: "We use discounting to discourage schools from entering their pupils into a number of similar qualifications.

"As there are overlapping elements in the syllabuses for dance and drama and for art and photography, they will discount each other in the 2014 performance tables."

The union has asked the Department for Education to reconsider some of its decisions, particularly on dance and drama, and is gathering evidence from subject specialists.

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