Labour slams after-school arts slump

Boy with violin In 2009-10 ethnic minority pupils were more likely to take after-school music classes than their white counterparts - but this trend has now reversed

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The government is to blame for a slump in the number of primary pupils in England taking after-school arts classes, Labour says.

The numbers taking extra music, dance and drama classes have dropped by a third since 2010.

The fall is particularly marked among ethnic minority pupils, who have become less likely to participate since 2010.

The government said: "It is nonsense to suggest we do not promote the arts either inside or outside school".

  • In 2009-10 55% of pupils were taking part in music activities - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 36%
  • In 2009-10 49% of pupils were taking after-school drama classes - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 33%
  • In 2009-10 45% of pupils were taking after-school dance classes - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 29%
'Widening gap'

In 2009-10 ethnic minority pupils were over five percentage points more likely to take extra music classes than their white counterparts, but by 2012-13 they were over three percentage points less likely to do so.

  • In 2009-10 60% of ethnic minority pupils were taking part in music activities - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 24%
  • In 2009-10 44% of ethnic minority children were taking after-school drama classes - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 26%
  • In 2009-10 46% of ethnic minority children were taking after-school dance classes - but by 2012-13 this had fallen to 31%

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said: "Taking part in art and culture is a vital part of a child's education and helps them develop their full potential.

"This is important both at school and in after-school activities, whether it's dance, drama or music, but we are seeing a serious fall in the amount of art and culture that children are able to take part in.

"The blame for this lies fairly and squarely at the door of this government.

"They don't understand the importance of the arts and their role to extend opportunities to every child.

"The widening gap between white and black and minority ethnic children is very worrying.

"It is every child's right to explore their artistic and creative potential, and that shouldn't depend on your race.

"These figures should be a wake-up call to the government."

'Music boost'

Ms Harman said former Education Secretary Michael Gove had "devalued creativity" in schools.

She added many arts organisations providing out-of-school activities had lost out in government cuts to local councils.

The Department for Education said: "We are determined to help every child develop their creativity.

"That is why we have invested £340m to support music and cultural education that will help children to enjoy the arts.

"In the last month alone we have cut red tape that restricted after-school drama performances and announced an £18m funding boost for music education.

"The extra funding will mean thousands more disadvantaged pupils will have access to instruments."

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