Some people might view taking Arts subjects at A Level as reducing their future employability unless they’re focused on moving into a specific profession like dance, theatre, or art. Even with this focus, though, trying for an Arts education can be unstable in terms of whether you’ll be generally employable after you complete your studies.
Why, then, does taking Arts subjects at A Level matter, and what sort of institutions should be targeted for taking them?
status of Arts subjects at A level and GCSE has been under fire in recent years, with the now-shelved English Baccalaureate, or EBC, having planned to focus on core academic subjects, excluding more practical subjects like Drama or Art. While the EBC is no longer being used at GCSE, A-Level forms are focusing on more final exams, less coursework, and increased emphasis on building employability through core A Levels across different disciplines.
The value of taking Arts subjects at A Level is also complicated by the perception that including them will damage your chances of competing for the best university places. In this context, combining more traditional subjects with Dance, Drama, Art, or Performing Arts could be seen as taking a soft option, rather than trying to create the most prestigious collection of results to impress examiners.
However, an approach to A Levels that just selects the subjects that you think will get you a better University place or a better job can be short-sighted if you end up struggling and ignoring your natural talents in the Arts. An Arts education can be beneficial in many ways, from allowing you to express yourself and show initiative through projects, to engaging with cultural awareness and a critical approach to society. At the same time, not following through and getting a qualification in a subject you love can mean that you work for two years on difficult subjects without any guarantees of getting a better job from them.
The value of taking Arts subjects consequently comes down to whether you view A Levels as a means to an end, or as a chance to combine more pragmatic subjects for a potential career with the opportunity to broaden your mind and appreciate learning. There shouldn’t be an either/or approach to Arts, Humanities, or Sciences, and taking an A-Level in a subject that you have talent in and are enthusiastic for can give you a more well-rounded experience.
At the same time, though, it’s worth considering which kinds of schools can allow you to make the most of Arts subjects; you can improve the quality of an A-Level in the Arts by participating in extra-curricular activities, from taking part in art shows to participate in plays and musical productions – doing so might inspire you towards continuing with Arts subjects at university, or to get a better insight into opportunities within a particular industry.
CJ is a blogger who mostly writes about the challenges of breaking into journalism and the media. She strongly believes in the value of Arts at A-Level, and recommends that anyone looking to combine subjects and take extra-curricular activities look at Lansdowne Independent College in London.