Cites "moral obligation" not to let creative education be downgraded in proposed changes to GCSEs.
Adobe has signed up to the #includedesign campaign set up by the creative industries to convince education secretary Michael Gove to include subjects such as design, art and music in the EBC qualification. Gove intends to replace what he considers to be core GCSE subjects – which are based around five key 'pillars' of maths, science, English, languages and humanities subjects such as history or geography – with the EBC (English Baccalaureate Certificate) based on the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) in 2015.
The #includedesign campaign already has the backing of famous designers from Apple's Jony Ive to Stella McCartney to Olympic torch creators Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby – plus many high-profile London-based ad agencies, architects, creative studios and industry organisations, as well as us here at Digital Arts. The addition of Adobe – as well as other major creative software firms that we expect to follow – bolsters the campaign's voice as they use their communication channels with their customers to highlight the issue.
"We have a moral obligation to ensure our children have the opportunity to be brilliant at what they as an individual are brilliant at," says Liz Wilkins, Adobe's senior marketing manager for education. "Education enables that brilliance to shine though. Why shouldn't a child who loves to draw – or loves to make and build things – have the chance to have that skill and that strength [taught to its fullest level]? That's why I think we should include design."
Like myself, Liz has a personal interest in the success of creative education as well as a professional one as she has an eight-year-old son (I have a 13-year-old stepdaughter who will be in the first year of the proposed EBC in 2015).
"Are we going to have a lost generation of students who start whatever this new course is?" she asks. "A good education can change somebody's life and their social mobility. Yes, STEM [the education world's term for the core theoretical subjects: science, technology, English and maths] are hugely important, but what about the sixth pillar of creativity?"
Pushing resources away from creativity
While the exclusion of creative subjects from the EBacc won't see them disappear from school timetables, Liz – like many in the industry – fears that removing them from the criteria that schools are judge on – and ranked by on league tables – will lead to schools spending less money and effort on making them deliver high-quality education.
Given the choice between spending money on refitting science or art classrooms, for example, Liz says the setup of the EBacc almost forces schools to choose the former.
It would be easy to see an element of self-interest in Adobe's motives for signing up: fewer school resources being devoted to the creative subjects would likely lead to fewer sales of the company's products into education. Liz denies this is a factor in the company's decision to sign up to the campaign.
"Core to what Adobe's about is innovation, championing creativity in all of its various forms. For me, joining up to this campaign is not about [sales] at all."
Adobe has a series of initiatives to support teachers and engage children. Adobe Generation is described by Liz as a "really cool homework club for kids", offering weekly online tutorial sessions for 14-16 year olds – with the time split between teachers discussing theory and practise across subjects such as game design, animation and photo-editing, and creative pros talking about their projects.
The Adobe Education Leader programme brings together around 150 secondary and higher education teachers in San Jose, California – including 15 from the UK – to share education practises and give feedback on Adobe's products. Alongside this is the Adobe Education Exchange, a community site for teachers that allows them to share lesson plans.
Yesterday, the Michael Gove and the Department for Education announced that Computer Science would be included in Science 'pillar' of the EBacc, following a campaign featuring Eidos's Ian Livingstone. Both Liz and I hope that #includedesign and the Baccforthefuture campaigns are successful in similarly changing their minds about the creative subjects.