What will Progress 8 do for the creative subjects?
26.03.2015 by Dave Thomson
The changes made by the coalition government to secondary school accountability, such as the EBACC, the Wolf Review and Progress 8, have tended to be met by concern that ‘creative’ subjects will become marginalised as a result of schools placing greater emphasis on ‘academic’ subjects. In recent weeks, for example, the TES questioned whether creative subjects, such as art, design & technology and music, would be affected by the introduction of Progress 8.
There is no doubt that recent changes to the accountability regime have led to increases in entry rates in GCSEs in the EBACC subjects. Particularly since 2012, the first cohort to begin Key Stage 4 (year 10) under the coalition government, the percentage of pupils entering at least one full GCSE  (2 in science) in the EBACC subjects of geography, history, science and languages has risen. Nonetheless, entry rates in languages and science remain below 2005 levels.
Design & technology (D&T) is a relative newcomer to the curriculum. Its roots which go back to the late 1800s can be found in the teaching of a variety of crafts very much on a gender biased basis – cooking and needlework for girls, metalwork and woodwork for boys. These roots are still having a deleterious effect on the subject in that they skew the way the subject is conceptualized to give a pre-eminence to the materials that students might use and the making skills required to manipulate these materials. It is not that materials and making are unimportant (quite the reverse) but rather that they need to be seen as part of the essential concepts (so called BIG ideas) that underpin and define the subject. It was this inappropriate focus on materials/skills and the lack of BIG ideas amongst other factors that led the National Curriculum Expert Panel…
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