In October 2018, Ofsted, the assessors of educational standards across the country, announced a change to their focus of assessment: instead of examination results, schools will be deemed effective based on a broad and fulfilling curriculum. Whilst this change will have an immediate effect on the day-to-day working lives of teachers, and those assessing them, the long-term effects on students and the future of the UK creative industries are currently unquantifiable.
This decision has the potential to encourage more people into creative industries and professions. Educational aims currently focus on the achievement of impressive examination statistics. Under the new system, teachers are less driven by the need to teach to the examination, meaning more time can be dedicated to play and creative studies. Teachers are asked to encourage the uptake of artistic and creative subjects at GCSE and A-Level, which should impact vocational decisions. In encouraging teachers to build creative studies into the curriculum and encouraging students to pursue them at a higher level, this change in Ofsted’s focus gives hope to the prospect of an increase in young people taking creative studies to university level, employment, and beyond.
This change not only means more people, but more confident, adept and better-skilled individuals entering the creative industries. Ofsted’s decision to focus on the quality of curriculum prioritises the wellbeing of students over the culture of stress and anxiety that drives the attempts for good grades. Shifting the purpose of education from exam success to personal fulfilment encourages the flourishing of well-rounded, happy individuals who have refined their skills from a young age. Ofsted’s decision will mean the maturing of self-assured writers, painters, musicians and more, who are also more likely to transfer these skills into creative professions.
Looking to the future, Ofsted’s decision to place more onus on creativity points towards a long-needed shift in attitudes to creative subjects and careers. This decision has come in the face of recent reports that creative subjects are being cut in schools, with the attitude that they are ‘softer’, less academic options. Ofsted’s recognition of creative subjects as important to educational development at all levels of the school system goes some way to address these issues.
This attitude shift in the education system also has potential to address wider issues faced by individuals in creative industries – namely the issue of pay. Those in creative careers suffer from a lack of career progression, with free-lance workers feeling they are often under-paid or working for free. If creative subjects and qualifications are taken more seriously, and if creativity is seen as an industrial talent or skill, rather than a hobby, then individuals have a better chance of getting paid what their time and skill is worth.
The change to Ofsted’s process of assessment will not be implemented until September 2019; however, with the creative industries making record contributions to the UK economy, this initiative seems to be an overdue recognition of an invaluable industry to the UK economy and cultural output.