Inspiring the Next Generation

According to various news sources, creative subjects are on the decline in UK schools.

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By Eliot Mason

Within recent months I have noticed more and more articles reporting on the apparent decline of creative subjects in schools across the UK.

I mention this as just before Easter I was asked to attend a careers day at my former secondary school.  I jumped at the chance, I booked the necessary time off work and just over six months into my first role as a Junior Product Designer, I found myself back at school. I was to be part of a drop in session in the main school hall alongside other former students. We represented a broad range of industries from Marketing Analysis to Linguistics, from Recruitment Consultant to Teacher and of course me, a Product Designer. I couldn’t help thinking what a brilliant opportunity this was for the KS3 and KS4 students. I would have loved to have been given the chance to talk freely with previous pupils of the school. The chance to discover how those students achieved their goals and what was needed to get there – their chosen careers.

Traditionally many students from the school end up studying highly academic degrees, so I really believed I would be the only creative to attend. However, I was surprised to be sat next to two other designers from the year above me, one a design engineer at Dyson and the other who runs his own web and graphics agency with his sister.

I wasn’t sure how many students would be interested in talking to me, but there ended up being a steady procession of pupils, all of whom showed a keen interest in continuing their studies in the creative field to ‘A’ level and further. The running theme for all of them was that they enjoy being creative but they weren’t quite sure where it could lead them. These were the exact same thoughts that I had when I was at school, until I started looking into design jobs in my own time. I was pretty naïve when it came to the world of design at this age.  Insight and advice from professionals who had once been in my shoes would have been invaluable at this time.

Going back to ‘school’ was a lovely experience, as I was able to see that the quality of teaching that I had enjoyed during my time there had not changed at all. If anything it had improved with greater access to digital media and teaching aides. I was very fortunate to attend such a good school with excellent teaching of the core subjects which allowed me to explore my interests in creative subjects. 

Looking back at my visit I think that the creative passion of students now is as strong as ever, they are encouraged to be creative by their teachers but there is a lack of direction into how they can channel their creativity. With greater emphasis being placed on more ‘conventional’ lessons I can see students in the future getting fewer chances to express their creativity in school. This could be improved by students being exposed to professional creatives and practices from GCSE onwards to give them the knowledge that continuing creative subjects into higher education and beyond is not at all fruitless, far from it in fact! 

I do hope that this time spent imparting my story to these students will inspire them to chase their dream and achieve success in a career within the creative industry.

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