Number of students taking arts A-levels continues to fall

The number of students taking some arts subjects at A-level has continued to fall, national data shows.

Entries in drama and music A-levels both saw sharp decreases this year, according to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

In total, there were 5,848 A-level entries for music, and 10,207 for drama in 2019, down from 6,251 and 11,239 last year respectively.

A-level entries in drama and music infographic
(PA Graphics)

Both subjects have seen the number of entries drop over the last decade. In 2009, 10,425 qualifications were handed out in music, compared to 16,925 in drama.

Drama was far more popular among girls than boys, with 7,185 female entries compared to 3,022 from boys this year.

Music has a more even gender balance, with 2,973 male entrants sitting the exams alongside 2,875 female classmates.

One music insider believes the decrease in music students could spell bad news for the industry.

Michael Dugher, UK Music CEO said: “This year’s A-level entry numbers reveal a deepening crisis facing music in education that needs urgent action from the Government.

“There is yet again a worrying drop in the number of people studying music to A-level, which seriously jeopardises the talent pipeline on which our industry relies.

“Children from all backgrounds should have access to the music; there is also strong evidence to suggest that young people who are engaged in their education through music fare better at maths and English.”

A number of humanities and social science subjects saw big increases in the number of entrants this year.

Political studies entries were up 9.8% on 2018 to 19,729, and the number of psychology qualifications awarded climbed by 8.2% to 64,598.

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