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Tougher exams in arts subjects

Posted on April 9, 2014

akram khan working with the national youth dance company c zara rush

akram khan working with the national youth dance company c zara rushDance GCSEs and A Levels in England are to be made more demanding, as part of a larger reform of arts-based subjects. The reformed exams, to be introduced in September 2016, promise more “rigorous” content, to be developed by exam boards with advice from experts such as Arts Council England and the Music Education Council.

At GCSE level, art and design, music, drama and dance will be reformed on this timetable, along with citizenship, computer science, design and technology, PE and religious studies.

At A level, music, drama, dance, design and technology, PE and religious studies will be reformed. In a statement, the Department for Education said: “These new A Levels will ensure that students have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in demanding undergraduate courses.”

The Department for Education is providing more than £340 million for arts and cultural education programmes over the 2012 to 2015 period. Government-supported arts initiatives have included the Dance and Drama Awards (scholarships which support young performers at leading dance and drama schools), the Music and Dance Scheme and the National Youth Dance Company (pictured).

Youth Dance England (YDE), the national organisation supporting excellence in dance for children and young people, has responded: “YDE supports the review of examinations in dance and welcomes the government’s interest in ensuring high standards in the delivery of dance, drama and music in the curriculum. YDE also commends the government in recognising the importance of dance in the education of students… As a major art form it needs to achieve an even higher profile in schools and this review indicates its importance to government policy.”

In other news, Maria Miller has resigned from her position as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. She will be replaced by Sajid Javid, formerly a junior minister at the Treasury.


Picture: Akram Khan working with dancers from the National Youth Dance Company, who will perform at Sadler’s Wells on April 16. Photograph: Zara Rush 




Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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