Gove's Changes Threaten Britain's Greatest Asset: Our Creativity

By Mavity, Roger | The Independent (London, England), January 29, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Gove's Changes Threaten Britain's Greatest Asset: Our Creativity


Mavity, Roger, The Independent (London, England)


Any attempt to improve standards in education is beguiling - at a superficial level. But Michael Gove has a knack for improving things backwards. His reinvention of A-levels seems doctrinaire, to put it politely, and follows hard on the heels of his plan to introduce a new Ebacc.

This plan for the Ebacc should be studied before it is applauded. And when you do study it, you're likely to feel a frisson of deep anxiety. Because the Ebacc has a top tier of subjects, on which all the educational energy and emphasis will be placed. Meaning, of course, that any subject not in the top tier will quickly become a devalued currency. And the top tier, the subjects which will count for something in Gove-world, excludes any and every arts subject apart from English.

That doesn't sound too dreadful, you may be thinking. But one of the great fallacies within Britain's diminishing sense of identity is that we don't make anything any more. It's true that as a child I grew up with "Made in England" but as an adult I live with "Made in China". And, of course, the traditions of shipbuilding on the Clyde and Tyne are in the past, as are the textile industries of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Yet we do still make things in Britain. We make different things for a different time - we make ideas. We are world leaders in creativity.

The advertising business, once controlled globally by the US, is now dominated by WPP, a British company. Hard on its heels are younger British ad agencies, such as BBH, which have grown so fast that they now have offices in Singapore, New York, LA, Sao Paolo, Shanghai and Mumbai.

While it's fashionable in London for the chatterati to be critical of the BBC, it's seen the world over as a symbol of British excellence, and the World Service is universally admired. British architects, like Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, are designing buildings in just about every major international city. The music industry, like advertising, was once an American fiefdom but is now yet another creative arena where - thanks to an army of talent from the Beatles to Burial - we are a world force.

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Gove's Changes Threaten Britain's Greatest Asset: Our Creativity
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