Provisional art and design candidate numbers for arts and design subjects

Ofqual have published provisional candidate entries for all subjects at GCSE and A level. Art and design GCSEs have risen, A level entries have continued to fall.

Entries for GCSE, AS and A level, Summer 2019 exam series show the following changes:

Art and design A level:
A 3% decrease from 40,300 (2018) to 39,170.(2019)

AS level:
A 41% decrease (Note: all subjects combined have seen a fall of -46%)

Art and design GCSE:
An 8.3% increase from 168,765 (2018) 184,060 (2019)

The increase in art and design GCSE specification completions reflects the hard work, dedication and commitment of our teachers and schools to art, craft and design. However, other arts and design subjects (music, drama and D&T) have not seen an increase in numbers and we are concerned that the rise in art and design specifications is likely to be attributed to a fall in D&T GCSE completions.

For Design & Technology (D&T) there has been a large decrease in completions. NSEAD first reported on the concerning and continued fall in numbers in 2018. The decrease was -7.5%. One year on the decrease is reported by Ofqual to be as much as -23%. Whilst Ofqual suggests that the fall may reflect the changes to the D&T specifications, NSEAD members are continuing to report that they are being asked to teach graphic communication; textile design and three-dimensional design specifications within D&T departments.

We are concerned therefore that the apparent rise in GCSE Art and Design masks the true picture of how and where it is being taught. Whether it is within D&T departments by art and design trained teachers or by D&T trained teachers, there is a real risk that students are being offered a curriculum lacking breadth and depth. If this is the case, opportunities for arts and design pathways are actually being reduced, with implications for art and design provision across all key stages and progression on to degree-level study.

We will continue to support NSEAD members to help them and their departments in making clear and explicit the important distinction between art and design and D&T, and the Society cannot and will not support the reduction in curriculum time, breadth and expertise that is resulting in some cases from the closure of subject disciplines.

The increase in art and design GCSE subjects has been widely reported by Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards, as proof that the EBacc is not impacting on arts subjects. However, less widely reported is the continued reduction of candidate numbers this year in D&T (-23%), media/Film and TV studies (-12%); music (-3%) and drama (-1%).

Download Ofqual's data and report here

The Society is currently evidencing these changes and welcomes any comments or examples from teachers of art and design who may have experienced changes to their art and design and D&T curriculum or examination offer. This may be reflected in changes to staffing, timetable, curriculum and/or examination endorsements offered. Please email your comments to Michele Gregson.

03 Jun 2019