The number of arts subject teachers working in secondary schools in England has plummeted by 9,000 since 2011 – a fall of almost a quarter (22%).

There were 41,300 teachers of arts subjects for pupils in year groups 7 to 13 in the country’s state schools in 2011, but this number had fallen to 32,300 by last year according to figures recently published by the Department for Education (DfE).

The largest fall has been in the number of drama teachers, which has dropped by 2,600 (22%), from 11,600 to 9,000. The number of art and design teachers has fallen by 2,100 (15%) from its level of 13,900 in 2011, and there are 1,500 (19%) fewer music teachers.

The number of media studies teachers has fallen by 1,900 (29%), and the number of combined arts and humanities teachers by 900 (75%).

Arts teacher numbers have collapsed at twice the rate of overall teacher numbers. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of teachers of all subjects in secondary schools fell by 9%.

The biggest fall in teacher numbers has been in those teaching at GCSE level. There were 5,100 fewer arts subject teachers of years 10 and 11 (key stage 4) in 2018 than in 2011 – a reduction of 20%.

The figures are likely to fuel concern that arts subjects are being marginalised because they are not part of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – the suite of subjects used by the Government to assess school performance. The number of pupils studying GCSEs in arts subjects has fallen by 26% since 2014, according to figures published earlier this year by the qualifications regulator Ofqual.

The new DfE figures also show that teachers in England spent 66,000 fewer hours teaching arts subjects in 2017 than in 2011 – a 17% reduction in arts teaching time.

For pupils studying AS and A level (key stage 5), there was a 26% fall in teaching time, with 21,000 fewer hours spent on arts subjects.

Separate figures released by DfE show that the number of pupils has remained broadly flat over the period that the fall in arts teacher numbers has occurred. There were 3.3 million state secondary pupils in England in 2011, and 3.2 million in 2017.

1. Photo: samstockton on VisualHunt / CC BY 2.0

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