Poet Laureate calls for 'creative time' in secondary curriculum

Poetry and creative writing are being squeezed out of secondary schools because of the Government's failure to make time in the curriculum for creativity, Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, has warned.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Motion said the Government had missed an "almost magical opportunity" to rescue poetry in secondary schools from oblivion. The laureate, who has been a fervent champion of poetry in schools, said he had been "bitterly disappointed" that recommendations from the former chief inspector of schools, Sir Mike Tomlinson, had been rejected by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary.

The shake-up of the curriculum and exams proposed in the Tomlinson reforms would have provided a unique chance for the Government to set aside lesson time for creative writing and poetry, Motion said. They had disappeared "almost entirely" from the secondary curriculum, particularly at GCSE level, where the focus was on exams as a result of the pressure of league tables

"At primary school level the situation is all completely healthy," he said. "But as children get into secondary school and come up for GCSE, the culture of learning and creative time disappears almost entirely from the curriculum.

"These incredibly important opportunities - in the sense that it will help them with their studies, as well as its larger, more 'top of the mountain' ideas about humanity - are lost."

Motion was speaking at an awards ceremony for Writing Together, a scheme that he helped launch, which sends writers and poets into schools. It was created in 2001 because of concerns over standards of writing in schools and to inject more creativity. It sent 200 writers into 170 schools this year.

Motion said most English teachers wanted to spend time on creative writing, but would remain afraid to do so until the Government made it an official requirement. "If a certain amount of time was set aside specifically for creativity then at the very worst young people would have the opportunity to choose whether poetry is for them," he said. "At the moment young people do not have that choice."

"The Tomlinson report was an opportunity for a radical rethink," he said. "There was almost a magical opportunity for creative time to be written down and described for teachers so that they felt that time spent on creativity was officially permitted and that they were not somehow betraying their pupils."

Motion said he had been disappointed at the level of education debate by Ms Kelly since the election.

"Once the general election was called the only conversation about education during the campaign was about keeping order," he said. "Now the only debate is about Kelly's hours.

"Where is the big thinking? There was a moment but it seems to have been lost, this is from a government that claimed to put education at the top of its agenda.

"Somebody has to be very practical about it and say that there has to be a change. Otherwise the kind of thing that Writing Together does is only ever going to be an add-on in the curriculum. In these circumstances it will be the schools that are up against the wall that are going to abandon creativity."

A department spokeswoman said yesterday: "We would like to see creativity embedded in both teaching and learning throughout the education system. All national curriculum subjects provide opportunities to promote pupils' creative and cultural development."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in the devel...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent