The Stage, theatre newspaper and website, recently published a poll asking readers whether or not they agreed with Amanda Spielman’s statement which they reported as 'arts courses promote unrealistic career prospects to potential students'.
This isn’t fair reporting. Amanda, and other Ofsted leaders and HMI (Her Majesty’s Inspectors), have often said that creative and practical subjects are valuable in their own right. These are subjects that are too often being squeezed out of school curriculums.
However, our report on level 2 study programmes showed that college leaders themselves recognised that the proportion of students going from vocational arts and media courses into jobs in that industry was low. Despite this recognition, we found colleges advertising these courses as having extremely good career prospects, offering false hope to students. In some colleges, these are the most popular courses available. The level of mismatch is very clear, and has been acknowledged by the Association of Colleges chief executive.
That misinformation is doing a disservice to students who take those courses. Colleges should collaborate with local employers to design and deliver courses that are set up for available jobs.
The creative industries are a key part of the UK economy, and vital for the cultural life of our country. Not only that, but students of the arts learn valuable knowledge and skills that they can take into whatever career they choose.
The speech as it was delivered at the Association of Colleges, November 2018.