St Albans entrepreneur campaigns to keep arts in curriculum

SAVE the Arts in Education is the name of a campaign that has been launched by the founder of a performing arts company who wants the Government to reconsider their planned overhaul of GCSEs.

Zoe Jackson, who runs Living the Dream, has devised an online petition opposing government proposals, which could see GCSEs scrapped and subjects such as drama, dance and art removed from the national curriculum.

This is part of a planned shake-up to the current exam system that would replace GCSEs in favour of an English Baccalaureate Certificate that focuses on the core subject areas from 2015.

But the 23-year-old of Green Lane, St Albans, passionately believes the arts should always be taught in schools and hopes to put pressure on ministers to rethink the changes by getting thousands of people to sign her petition.

In a letter that Zoe has sent to the Prime Minister she said: “I cannot contemplate a society without young people having open access to creativity within the education system, irrespective of whether it is a career choice or not.

“The arts help students in any career, giving them skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication, innovation and creativity, confidence, and the ability to strive for excellence and express themselves. All of this will be lost.

“The consequences will be dire. Extracurricular training in the arts will only be available to the lucky few who can afford it, literally throwing away the potential talent of so many more.

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“For young people who are passionate about pursuing a career in the arts – already a highly competitive and tough industry to get into – the future is bleak and their dreams and aspirations will be trampled upon.”

The entrepreneur set up Living the Dream, which holds performing arts classes across the district, when she was just 16 years old to pay for her course fees at the National Youth Theatre.

But Zoe, who studied dance and drama at Beaumont and Sandringham School, admits without these qualifications she would not have had the confidence to start her own company.

In her letter she added: “I ask the government to reverse its decision and ensure the rightful place of the arts in the school curriculum and the future of enterprise and our creative industries – the very soul of our culture. I believe that creativity will be the currency for the 21st Century.”

The Save the Arts in Education petition is due to go live shortly and details on how you can support the campaign will be published in a future edition of the Herts Advertiser.