Over 100,000 young people across England will lose the option to study arts and other non-core subjects if the Government implements its plan to require 90% of GCSE pupils to study the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), according to ArtsProfessional‘s analysis of figures produced at the University of Cambridge.

The analysis also shows that young people who live in areas of financial deprivation and those achieving lower than average grades are much more likely to complete seven or fewer GCSEs.

The average number of GCSEs completed by school pupils in England in 2016 was 8.6, but almost a quarter (23%) took seven or fewer. This figure rises to 27% among those who live in areas of high income deprivation, and 43% among those with low levels of academic attainment.

ArtsProfessional’s consultant editor, Liz Hill, has called on the Government to rethink its plans, writing: ‘The EBacc will cement the advantage of the most privileged over the least. Feeding the disadvantaged a restricted diet of traditional academic subjects that emphasise knowledge over skills will ensure that England remains a divided nation.’

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: ‘One of our most urgent priorities is to push government to give arts and creative subjects equal billing in schools. And that means equal billing for everyone, whatever your background. Arts subjects are essential for the growth of both our country’s and children’s future – the creative industries are fastest growing economic sector in the UK, creating jobs at four times the rate of wider UK workforce.’

Deborah Annetts, co-ordinator Bacc for the Future campaign and chief executive of the ISM, said: ‘The EBacc must be reviewed or scrapped if we are to avoid access to the arts in secondary schools becoming the preserve of those who can afford it.

‘We have written to the new Secretary of State for Education, Damien Hinds MP, asking to meet as a matter of urgency to discuss these concerns.’