Top school condemns 'prejudice' over arts


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The Independent Online

The retiring principal of the BRIT School for performing arts has accused the Department for Education of "living in a state of fear" and denying children the vocational teaching they need for future careers in the creative industries.

Nick Williams, who has been a transformational figure in revitalising the BRIT School as a source of world-beating talent in the arts, told The Independent that the education system in Britain held inbuilt prejudices against vocational teaching which were harming the chances of future artistic stars.

Later this year Mr Williams is stepping down after a decade in which the school has rejuvenated the British music industry with a succession of star graduates including Adele, Jessie J, Kate Nash and Amy Winehouse, and produced film actors including Robert Emms (War Horse) and Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners).

"The education system has got to open up to realise that there is going to be more work in the internet and in the skills that the creative industries are going to produce, than there will be in the kind of traditional industries which are dying on their feet in this country," he said. "Why don't we have an education system that acknowledges what we are good at? Then you will have more working-class kids coming through doing this stuff and you will have a breeding ground for creating wealth in the areas we already know we are good at."

He said the education system in Britain failed to recognise the contributions made to the economy by the creative sector. "Going back to the Sixties, we were producing pop music better than anybody else in the world and we still do that. We produce film-makers, actors and artists. We lead the world in these areas, and yet how is that represented in our education system? Zilch! There's less music taught now than there was 10 or 20 years ago, less opportunity for students to be artistic, less drama lessons, and less opportunities for young people to understand about entrepreneurship in the business world."