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Eurydice report explores the state of arts education in the EU

Source: Eurydice

The European Commission has released a study which gives a detailed picture of the aims and objectives of arts education, its organisation, the provision of extra-curricular activities as well as initiatives for the development of such education at school. It includes information on pupil assessment and teacher education in the arts.

Arts and Cultural Education at School in Europe, which is based on the work of the Eurydice network, was produced by the Commission in the context of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. It covers full time compulsory education in 30 European countries (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Maroš Šefčovič, said: “Arts education favours the development of creative abilities by encouraging learners to experiment, express themselves, cooperate, overcome problems and take initiatives. Consequently, strengthening arts education for the development of our creative and innovative potential must be a core component of any education strategy for economic competitiveness, social cohesion and individual well-being.”

The study brind out that as the learning objectives show, arts education has the potential to develop in pupils not only all dimensions related to creativity, but also diff erent personal and social skills and attitudes. However, to bear fruit, arts education has to overcome certain challenges, such as a proportionally low level of taught time, particularly at lower secondary education, and specific difficulties related to assessment. Creating partnerships between the world of art and schools seems to be a good way forward in order to meet these challenges and more generally to promote arts education in schools.

Key findings:
The minimum taught time devoted to arts education is quite low, especially at lower secondary level.

The most commonly taught art forms in schools are visual arts and music, which are compulsory parts of the arts curriculum in all countries. As far as all artistic areas are concerned, approximately half of the European countries dedicate between 50 and 100 hours per year to the arts at primary level. Countries falling significantly out of this range are on the one hand Luxembourg, which provides up to 36 hours and on the other hand Portugal, which provides up to 165 hours. At lower secondary level, the taught time is slightly lower, with around half of the countries dedicating approximately 25 to 75 hours per year to the arts. At this level, the majority of countries not only devote less time to arts education than to the language of instruction, mathematics, natural and social sciences (taken together or separately), and foreign languages, but also to physical education. This study confirms previous research results on the lack of time allocated to the arts at secondary level.

In some countries, primary school teachers might not be trained to teach all art-forms included in the school curriculum

In most countries, primary school teachers delivering arts education teach all or most curriculum subjects. In the majority of countries, they receive training in more than one arts subject. However, in some countries, primary teachers might not have received appropriate education and training to teach all facets of the arts included in the curriculum. Professional artists are not often involved in actual teaching at primary and lower secondary level. In most countries, in order to teach the arts subjects in schools, professional artists have to complete professional teacher training. However, there are certainly exceptions to this rule: several countries allow professional artists to teach without the required teaching qualifi cations. At primary level, arts teachers are usually generalist teachers. This means that they teach all or most of the curriculum subjects. In the majority of countries, they receive training in more than one arts subjects, most often visual arts and music, which are compulsory subjects in all European school curricula at primary level. At secondary level, arts education is taught by specialist teachers for whom demonstrating arts skills in (a) specifi c arts subject(s) before becoming an arts teacher is usually a requirement.

Ad hoc initiatives and extracurricular activities can help promoting arts education in schools
Many countries report initiatives and projects with the aim of encouraging arts education. In Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway, national organisations and networks have been specifically set up to promote arts and cultural education.
In addition, many countries encourage schools and other organisations to provide extra-curricular arts activities. However, obstacles might exist for pupils to access such activities, particularly in terms of funding. This is why national or local governments in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Austria, Portugal and Finland provide full funding for or subsidise extra-curricular arts activities.

The Eurydice Network ( www.Eurydice.org ) provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. It consists of 35 national units based in all 31 countries participating in the EU’s Lifelong Learning programme (EU Member States, EEA countries and Turkey) and is co-ordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which drafts its publications and databases.

To know more:
The full study Arts and cultural education at school in Europe [available in French and English]
Detailed National Descriptions will be available www.eurydice.org

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