School's dramatic cuts are under fire

Concerned parents have hit out at plans to axe GCSE and A-Level courses at Leighton's Vandyke Upper School.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd February 2016, 7:00 am
Vandyke Upper School
Vandyke Upper School

Drama has been omitted from both the GCSE and Sixth Form prospectuses, while a consultation with affected staff continues.

On Thursday a letter was sent out explaining the move, prompting parents to form a ‘Keep drama at Vandyke’ campaign group.

Commenting on Facebook, Nickie Davies said that the planned changes had left her daughter ‘gutted’.

She added: “We chose the school for the Drama department and she had everything pinned on Drama GCSE and now hasn’t a clue what to do!

“It’s completely unacceptable in our opinion for both those children wanting to take drama and those who have spent two years taking it and now can not progress with it at A level!

“It’s far too late in the day to make a huge change like that without consulting parents.

“We are now having to look at other schools after she had only just started there!”

Andrea Kilduff added: “My daughter was gutted at the options evening as she wanted to take drama to help her confidence.

“Her drama teacher said it was a great choice at her last parents evening and how pleased she was that my daughter wanted to take it at GCSE.”

The potential loss of drama courses at Vandyke comes as the government cuts back schools spending across the country.

Vandyke Upper headteacher Tim Carroll told the LBO that his school is under ‘severe financial pressures’.

He said: “It is not a matter to be discussed and resolved through the media, parents can always raise concerns with the school and governors.

“Schools are facing severe financial pressures and regrettably restricting the curriculum offer is something that all schools are having to consider to ensure financial viability.”

He added: “(Vandyke) is currently in a period of consulation with staff over proposed changes.”

As cutbacks to schools and colleges sink in, arts courses are often the first to be cut from curriculums.

Hundreds of students were left disappointed when Central Beds College announced plans to axe courses in its Art & Design, Fashion, Performing Arts and Media Production departments in June 2015.

The college said that its government funding settlement for the 2015-16 academic year had been reduced by a “significant percentage”, forcing it to make a cut in its “offer to the students of Central Bedfordshire.”

Reacting to news of potential cuts at Vandyke, South West Beds Labour Party secretary Mike Bishop said: “It appears that this is a result of the government’s short-sighted cuts to the arts.

“It will be a blow to those young people looking forward to fulfilling their potential.

“Arts isn’t just an easy option.

“It is an area in which the UK excels and theatre and cinema in particular earn us money abroad.

“We need to invest in our future not cut back on the educational opportunities for our young people.”