The Autumn 2017 Budget has been released. The response has been varied and widespread. Certainly, there is jubilation over aspects that have received extra funding and outrage over those who’ve received little to nothing. One of the biggest talking points is the extra £600 that will be given to colleges for each student who takes A-Level maths. Though this may look like a big win for education, is it really?
Maths is a Government Favourite
Even though the government has granted extra money, it still doesn’t address the issue of overall under funding of sixth-form education. Around 66% of sixth-form colleges have dropped courses because of funding cuts during 2016. Since this time, educators didn’t feel that the 2017 budget announcement would guarantee complete financial security for education.
The move to offer funding specifically for maths is a response to serious, long-term deficit in the UK’s national record on numeracy. There is a clear motivation by the government to increase the current 90,000 students taking A-Level maths.
It’s certainly hard not to view this new plan as extremely selective; especially since there is an £18 million central fund for new, specialist maths schools across the UK. Alarmingly there is no acknowledgement of other educational subjects. Even English (which is viewed as a core subject) has not received any recognition. However, for the Arts, it is yet another blatant disregard.
The Budget Fails to Give Variety
Education should be balanced and well rounded. The budget should properly support this. Pupils don’t share the same interests therefore forcing them into a bracket seems wrong. They should be allowed to use the Arts as part of a well-adjusted curriculum to explore their interests. Indeed, maths is essential but being exposed to a wide range of subjects will allow students to develop transferable skills that will benefit them long term. What can be learnt from the Arts: confidence, communication skills and teamwork easily apply across the curriculum, as well as adding to overall development.
One of the reasons the Arts aren’t taken as seriously is down to the stigma which surrounds it. Dance, music, art and drama are viewed as wayward and ultimately dead-end paths. In a society that is obsessed with future success, they are viewed as a waste of time and money. Nevertheless, creative industries account for £16 billion in exports and employs at least 12 million people.
Britain is a cultural hub where writers, poets, actors, artists and musicians have all originated here. Though they are cherished as national heritage, Arts and culture is very heavily undervalued. Core subjects still remain essential; however students need variety to be well rounded members of our society and work force. This will never be achieved through selective funding of subjects.