There has been a lively debate recently following remarks made by Ofsted Head Amanda Spielman about the value of arts courses.

The responses from the BFI, ScreenSkills and others are very interesting, but, like Amanda Spielman’s remarks, they are rather missing the point about why many students take a level 2 arts course. 

At City & Islington College, we have a vibrant performing arts faculty and run a range of acting and performing arts courses.  And, in our experience, in many cases level 2 arts students are not looking for a job in the industry at all.

To assume, as Amanda Spielman and others seem to be doing, that a Level 2 arts course must translate into a job in an arts field, misses the fundamental reason why many learners opt for a Level 2 arts subject in the first place. 

In my experience, level 2 arts subjects are seldom a direct route into work in their own right, but are a stepping stone into a Level 3 course for those who – for whatever reason – didn't achieve the GCSE grades they needed. In fact, almost all our learners who do a Level 2 arts course, also do English and Maths GCSE resits.

For many of our Level 2 students therefore, college represents a second chance at education. And doing an arts course alongside their GCSE resits, develops students’ life skills and massively improves their confidence and prepares them for further study. 

It also suits the creative way that the students like to learn, in that the arts simultaneously improve both practical and theoretical skills.

Over 90% of our learners progress from Level 2 to a Level 3 course at City & Islington College, and from there onwards to work or university – not necessarily in a performing arts field.  Indeed, one of our recent arts students is now studying a BSc in Paediatric Nursing at Middlesex University.

Tim Chaundy, Curriculum leader in Performing Arts, City & Islington College.

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