i Editor's Letter: Don't punish the young, creative Brits, Mr Gove


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The Independent Online


I played rugby to a very high school standard. I was a good lock forward in the days when you had to leap for yourself, but downplayed my abilities because I did not like playing there much and didn't want to get picked at a higher level. It was only after we left school that friends told me they hid their abilities in fine art or drama for fear of a different outcome: bullying.

Those memories came flooding back this week as I read a survey for national anti-bullying week (one of the few such "weeks" worth caring about) which found that nearly half of UK children have played down a talent for fear of bullying and a quarter have given up something they loved.

Science and maths are subjects in which children are deliberately underachieving. Singing, drama and dance head the list of activities dropped because of the same fear. Mine was a sporty school and I was sporty, so OK. However, if you weren't, you had to work harder to "fit in". Thirty-plus years later (!) it seems little has changed.

What depressing reading this is. You don't have to be Sir Nicholas Hytner, boss of the National Theatre, to realise that it is only going to be exacerbated by the misguided dropping of the arts from Michael Gove's proposed new eBacc. It's bad enough as it is. Now we're saying arts are not core, not vital, not for "normal" children.

You can see where this is going, both for the future of the arts, in which Britain excels, and for the future of those children who express their talents not through exam results or sporting success, but through creativity. Please, think again, Mr Gove.