After a call from ministers for many more students to take languages and humanities from this September many secondary schools have made the decision to narrow pupils choices of arts subjects.
In December Michael Gove, the education secretary announced that schools will be measured by the proportion of pupils that gain good grades in specified core GCSE subjects: English, maths, at least one science, a foreign language and a humanities subject. Those obtaining a C grade or above will receive a special certificate, the English Baccalaureate.
Criticism has come from teaching unions who questioned the decision to apply the measure retrospectively when the latest annual performance tables were published in January. In over half of state secondary schools, under 10% of pupils achieved the English Bac. In 270 schools, no pupil achieved the qualification.
Schools have started taking dramatic steps to ensure more pupils obtain the English Bac. In some cases languages and a humanity subject has been added to the compulsory GCSE subjects of maths, English and science.
But this sidelined art, music, design and technology and religious education in many schools, say organisations that represent teachers of these subjects who fear pupils will fail to achieve a rounded education as a result.
Some head teachers were removing art and design as a GCSE option in favour of the English Bac claimed the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD).
John Steers, general secretary of the society, called this an “assault” on art and design.
"Clearly the ministers don't value the subjects. It is bizarre, because in some ways they are very keen on pupils learning about our culture – in history lessons, for example.
"It is particularly strange because the creative industries employ so many British people. Of course the subjects in the English Bac are very important, but alone they are not what makes a broad, liberal education," he said.