Photography in schools under threat

16 February 2016

Region: Headquarters

The National Society for Education in Art & Design (NSEAD) launched its NSEAD Survey Report 2015-16 which was designed to answer the question:  ‘In the last five years how has government policy impacted on art, craft and design education?’.  This area includes photography.

The survey report provided evidence of the growing impact of policy changes on art and design education and it concludes with 30 recommendations.  In one of the key findings NSEAD found that in the last five years learning opportunities in art, craft and design – including photography - across all key stages have reduced significantly. The time devoted to these areas has also declined.

Over a third (34%) of all teachers of art and design at key stage 5, which covers 16-18 year old students, reported that in the last five years courses have closed. The majority of courses listed as having closed were design-related courses, including photography.

Amongst the report’s recommendations are that the time allocated for teaching art and design should be reviewed and that senior leadership teams in schools should be aware of the value of art, craft and design. The Creative Industries Federation, subject associations, and sector skills councils should take ‘immediate and strategic action to reverse the ‘unintended consequences’ of government policy and ensure that the value, time and resources are restored and upheld for the subject, its teachers and students.’

In 2009/10 the number of students studying A Level photography (year 13) was 10,514 (30.4% male / 69.6% female). The RPS is trying to get comparable figures for later years.

With the government looking to make the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) all but compulsory in schools which requires GCSE pupils to study a minimum of seven, narrowly defined, GCSEs, the impact on photography, art and design is likely to be exacerbated. 

Dr Michael Pritchard