How art subjects were left behind in lock-down learning

In this article, we discuss how the teaching of art subjects, such as D&T, textiles, and music have been neglected during the remote learning period.

Published: November 3, 2021

During lock-downs, students and teachers have worked incredibly hard to keep the learning going at home. However, despite their best efforts, it’s been difficult to teach hands-on ‘practical’ subjects without the right equipment or learning environment. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published its dataset on the coverage of learning materials when studying remotely. Unsurprisingly, it revealed that less material was taught across all subjects during this period. However, art and design subjects were the most affected during lock-down. In this article, we discuss why this happened and how art subjects can bounce back now schools have returned to normality.

How badly affected were art subjects?

The ONS dataset covers the period of restrictions on in-classroom teaching in secondary schools from April 2020 to June 2021. During this time, remote-learning students only received an average of 60% of the learning material for “arts including design and technology”. 

When compared to other subjects, it’s clear that art subjects were neglected during lock-down. For example, remote learners received 73% of the science and maths learning content that in-school pupils got. The averages for most other subjects were also above 70%.

Why have art subjects fallen behind?

Arts subjects are by their very nature practical. Although teachers could provide theory and research-based activities, they’ve struggled to teach the arts and D&T subjects without dedicated spaces and equipment. For example, the likes of music and drama are difficult to replicate without the equipment they need, such as instruments. 

During lock-down, art subjects have become a bit of an afterthought, especially in primary schools. Last autumn, an Ofsted study found that many schools delivered remote learning to focus heavily (or even solely) on English and maths. While it’s understandable to focus on these core subjects, schools now face the challenge of tackling this imbalance.

Playing catch-up

Now that staff and students can access dedicated spaces and equipment for art, teaching for subjects like music and D&T can resume. Some schools are even making extra efforts to compensate for lost teaching of art subjects during lock-down. There are many steps schools can consider to help reconnect students to the arts, including:

  • encouraging students to attend after-school classes, such as drama or music lessons
  • running art-related field trips, e.g. trips to museums and theatres
  • integrating artistic activities, such as painting or performances, into the teaching of non-art subjects

The Government has also emphasised its commitment to supporting artistic opportunities in schools. It recently stated that the arts are “vital parts of children and young people’s education”. 

To engage students with art subjects, schools need to access up-to-date equipment. Utility Rentals can help with this, as our equipment leases for schools apply to a large selection of art-related equipment. Our range of D&T equipment includes sewing machines, 3D printers, cookers and more. We also offer flexible payment plans, meaning that your school can lease the latest equipment on the tightest budget!


Talk to our friendly team today to discuss your arts-related equipment needs, we’ll be only too happy to help.


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