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Government education reform plans that could 'threaten' design industry criticised by MPs

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By Cameron Clarke | Editor

January 31, 2013 | 3 min read

A proposed shake up of the English education system which critics claim could cause long-term harm to the creative industries has been slammed by MPs.

The Education Select Committee today condemned the government's plans to replace GCSEs with controversial new English Baccalaureate exams as "too much too soon" and criticised "a lack of overall coherence" in its approach to education reform.

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) proposals are the brainchild of education secretary Michael Gove, who insists GCSEs needs to be overhauled and wants to see the new system in place by 2015.

It would see the introduction of new certificates in five core subjects - English, maths, science, languages and humanities - and league tables would rank schools on their pupils' performances in these areas.

Critics argue that the pressure of these rankings would mean a disproportionate amount of teaching time would be devoted to these subjects at the expense of creative pursuits such as art, music, drama, design, computer science.

The #IncludeDesign campaign, which boasts Sir Jonathan Ive, Sir Terence Conran and Stella McCartney among its supporters, is urging the government to rethink the plans.

"Design and the creative industries are hugely important to the UK economy and the exclusion of design and other creative subjects from EBacc threatens the pipeline of home grown creative talent that will be needed for their future success," said #IncludeDesign spokesman Joe Macleod.

"The Education Select Committee’s report forcefully highlights this, showing how the government’s proposed reforms risk down-grading creative subjects in school and ignoring their essential importance to business innovation. It’s vital the government now takes a step back and re-considers these reforms to insure they do not cause irreparable damage to children and the economy. Even the CBI has criticised the absence of creative subjects."

The music industry is also rallying for the Baccaleurate plans to be redrawn through its Bacc for the Future campaign.

Its organiser Deborah Annetts, chief of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: "The unintended consequence of these reforms could be the creation of a divisive two-tier education system. We must have one qualification with subject-appropriate and rigorous modes of assessment.

"Given the economic significance of the creative economy this should be a no-brainer; we must not lose the creative legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics."

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