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(b) Focus of paper
The (re)production of second-class subjects in the English
national curriculum. A perfect storm for arts education?
Curriculum policy in England mobilises the discourse of ‘broad and balanced’.
However, enrolments in, and time devoted to, some subjects are now falling
dramatically, in particular in the arts. This paper examines the reasons for
this decline. Our three year, mixed methods study of visual and performing
arts teachers and teaching in thirty secondary schools across England
suggests that the decline in arts enrolments is not simply due to recent
changes in examination requirements and school performance measures. We
argue, making a Bourdieusian field analysis, that these recent changes have
(1) mapped onto an historical subject hierarchy which places the arts in a
lesser position to core ‘academic’ subjects, and (2) worked with the logics of
practices intended to shore up enrolments, maintain funding and survive a
variety of audit measures. We suggest that this confluence has created a
‘perfect storm’ for arts education, highlighting the misrecognition inherent in
the doxa of a broad and balanced curriculum.