Second open letter in response to FOIA about cutting the Arts:

Thank you for providing me with the all the information I requested.

I urge you to review your decision to cut A Level subjects from the options available for 2017/18. I appreciate that if you take each of the subjects individually the financial picture is a bleak one. In the current climate of chronic underfunding for schools, Drama would require 21 students in every cohort to break even. I’m not sure creative arts subjects have ever been celebrated enough by our education system to allow these kinds of numbers with any regularity.

Looking at these subjects in isolation does not give an accurate picture of funding across all subjects. The increase in numbers for other subjects that has been seen with the drastic increase in sixth form intake at Coopers’ will lead to some subjects making a “profit” for want of a better word. I believe that this surplus could and should be used to cover the cost of subjects with few students that do not benefit from the same institutional support. I have attached some basic calculations based on the class numbers provided, the average funding per pupil per subject in the sixth form being £900 and that a generous average teacher salary of £18000 per 10 hours teaching. These calculations put the overall deficit for all subjects at £8100. I understand the school is looking to cut costs but is this not a sum of money that is more manageable for the reward of offering a truly attractive, broad curriculum.

I would also like to question the perception of these subjects amongst SLT and governors. Are these subjects truly understood for what they offer? The minutes of your governing body meeting show that someone commented that “many of the talented musicians/actors do not study music or art [sic]” This seems to be a massive simplification of what these subjects offer students. Furthermore, the minutes reveal that the poor exam results are leading to poor uptake. A more vital question to ask than simply taking the action to scrap the subjects is how are they promoted? How do senior members of staff, leaders and teachers of other subjects talk about these subjects with prospective students? Is there a trend of influential people misinforming students that studying one of these subjects as a third A level choice would put their applications to top universities at risk. This is a harmful misreading of documents provided by Russell Group universities: whilst they do recommend students choose three ‘facilitating’ subjects if they want to keep their options open, they do explain that if a student knows they want to study an arts subject for example taking two ‘facilitating’ subjects and one relevant ‘non-facilitating’ subject would allow them to gain entry to those courses. I urge you to question how the culture of the school around options and particularly how information for parents and students is putting potential talented candidates off taking them at A level.

Your governor minutes also make reference to potential future competition with other local sixth forms. The decision to remove creative subjects from the A level curriculum has already had a detrimental to the reputation of the school. The story of the school’s decision has already received coverage in local and national news as well as social media outlets. This has led to over 8000 people have signed the petition against these subject cuts.

As someone who lives locally with young family I would not think of sending my children to a school that perceives the arts and creativity as reductively as ‘acting from a script’ or ‘playing an instrument’. The arts and creativity are so much more and they deserve a more concerted defence from school leaders than the one shown by the governors and leadership of Coopers’ Company and Coborn School.



2 thoughts on “Second open letter in response to FOIA about cutting the Arts:

  1. Phil, my son is at Coopers and is a musician who wants to take A Level music in Year 10. We are going down the same paths as you seem to be, having requested the same information as you and come to the same conclusions. We are also seeking to verify that this decision and alternatives to it have been properly considered by the governors; we have seen nothing so far to suggest this. I wonder if it would be worth speaking to each other and sharing thoughts/strategies? Please comment and we’ll work out a way to get in touch, as I don’t want to put my email address in a public forum. Thanks so much for fighting this – it’s good to know that others care as much about losing these subjects as we do.

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