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Philip Pullman decries ‘terrible state’ of children’s education in the arts

2nd November 2015

Children’s education in the arts is in a “terrible state” thanks to an obsession with exams and league tables, the award-winning novelist Philip Pullman has said. The author of the His Dark Materials trilogy urged the government to make theatre visits for schools “a firmly established part of the curriculum”, saying he was concerned about falling numbers of children being taken to plays and concerts. “I do worry what happens to children when they’re deprived of these things by these blasted league tables and this crazy assumption that we’ve got to test everything,” he said. “We do hear this from theatres that we’re not getting any children because the schools don’t want to let them out, because it takes time away from their lessons. That’s a terrible state to have got into, absolutely terrible.” According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the proportion of primary school-age children who had visited the theatre in the previous 12 months fell from almost half (47.1%) in 2008-9 to less than a third (32.3%) in 2014-15. “It should be a firmly established part of the curriculum that children should visit theatres and concert halls,” the author said. He said teachers, parents and adults also had to ensure children were taken to see theatrical productions. “Theatre is one of those things that children will love if they’re helped to get there to see it. No child will find his or her own way to the theatre.”

Read more on the Guardian Website