Don’t drop creative subjects amid shortages, schools told

·2-min read
   (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Schools must guard against dropping creative subjects in a bid to cope with teacher shortages due to Covid, a leading headteacher has warned.

Millan Sachania, head of Clapham and Streatham High School, said music, art, drama and sport were needed more than ever as pupils struggle with their mental health in the pandemic.

It comes after the chair of exams watchdog Ofqual suggested schools may need to suspend “specialist” subjects to cope with staff absences this term. A reported 8.5 per cent of teachers were in isolation, and the figure is expected to escalate as the term continues.

Dr Sachania said all subjects should be treated equally, even when there were teacher shortages. He said: “The term ‘core subject’ is an anachronism and does not apply in this age where we rightly value mental health.

“Just teaching subjects that we have deemed to be core, such as English, maths and science, is not going to enable or equip our pupils to develop the resilience and emotional intelligence they require for the post-Covid world we are entering.”

He warned that some schools were already demoting creative subjects in a bid to catch up on work missed.

He added: “We have to guard against this. It is an easy way of dealing with the current teacher shortages and stresses that schools have, but the easy solutions are not necessarily the right solutions.”

Dr Sachania said schools could cope with teacher shortages by combining classes and could also ask pupils to undertake more self-directed work.

He added that creative subjects suffered the most during lockdown because it was harder to teach them online.

Ofqual chair Ian Bauckham said on a Department for Education portal that teacher absence levels could reach a point “where resources can be stretched too thinly and alternatives, however undesirable, become necessary”.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting