Creative education

Many moons ago, after succeeding to gain good grades in my GSCE’s, I went to see the school career officer to discuss my future A Levels and what subjects I should take the following year. I expressed my interest in taking Design and Art. This was instantly frowned upon. Gaining A’s in Maths and Science I was encouraged to drop at least one of my creative subjects and advised to take a core subject otherwise how could I possibly expect to get into university?

After a small panic about how my life would be a failure if I didn’t listen to their advice, instead I listened to my mum, who told me to go and study what I enjoyed. Probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I went on to study English Literature (my worst subject grade at GCSE) Art and Design, following this came a Foundation course in Art and Design, I then gained my honours in Graphic Design and found myself a job within the creative industry.

Almost 20 pretty successful years on, it seems not much has changed within education to encourage students to take up creative and design led subjects, as on the 4th July, parliament will debate whether expressive arts subjects should be including in Ebacc after a petition has gained over 100,000 signatures.

The English Baccalaureate, or Ebacc, is a standard which maintains that English, maths, science, a language and a humanity define a good education. But this standard completely excludes creativity. Sec of State for Education, Nicky Morgan’s objective is for 90% of sixteen year olds to have The Ebacc.

The governments response to the petition is that it believes that art subjects are important, which is why art and design and music are compulsory subjects within the national curriculum for 5 – 14 year olds. But after this it does not believe it is right that every student should have to study an arts subject.

Is this not naive at a time when the UK’s creative industries contributed more than £84 billion to the British economy in 2014 and grew almost twice as fast as the rest of the UK PLC, employing more than 1.7 million (more than 1 in 20 UK jobs)?

A recent LinkedIn study found that one of the biggest recruiting challenges in 2016 is finding candidates in “high-demand talent pools.” Design leaders, UX leaders, design thinkers, and design strategists are all high-demand functions.

In a world where the likes of Apple and Tesla, to who design and innovation are the keys to success, are amongst the most admired and successful companies in the world, this seems glaringly obvious that a broad range of career opportunities should be encouraged and available to young people. Subjects that harness creativity, help communication and inspire thinking and problem solving should be as important as numeracy and literacy. These subjects are necessary in maintaining a balanced intellect.

I count myself lucky that I ignored advice and wasn’t pushed down a traditional education route but chose my own creative education. Who knows, it may have worked out well and I could have been a leading brain surgeon. But the way industry and the world is moving, design and creativity should and will play a crucial part of our future. You should never let your creativity be stifled and take my mothers advice, always do some thing you enjoy.

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