Some of Britain's most famous classical musicians have thrown their weight behind calls for creative subjects to be added to the Government's core qualification for 16-year-olds.
Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber has gathered support from a host of music stars, including his brother Lord Lloyd Webber, to urge ministers to include arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate.
The new performance measure depends on pupils' attainment in five subject areas, with teenagers being awarded the qualification if they score a C grade or higher in English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language.
But the move has lead to fears that many schools, especially in the state sector, have begun to marginalise arts subjects as they do not count.
In a letter to The Times, Lloyd Webber, 61, said he and his fellow supporters were "deeply concerned" at the absence of creative subjects in the EBacc.
Lloyd Webber wrote: "The International Baccalaureate - a respected, challenging and rigorous qualification - includes a sixth pillar of creative, intellectually rigorous subject options and we are asking for the EBacc to do the same.
"We know of the importance of creative subjects in school, in teaching, and in learning and the current Key Stage 4 proposals (and existing league table) are putting much of this at risk. We must continue to ensure that children receive a full rounded education so that they can develop their talents. Further, when looking for growth, the creative industries - £16 billion of the UK's economy - should not be overlooked.
"The Bacc for the Future campaign has - at the time of writing - amassed the support of well over 16,000 professionals, parents, leading creators signatories and 45 industry organisations, all calling for a sixth pillar of creative subjects to be included in the EBacc. We call on the Government to listen and make the EBacc fit for all our futures."
Lloyd Webber also pointed to Darren Henley's review of cultural education, commissioned by the Government, which called for cultural subjects to be considered in the EBacc as a sixth option.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "The English Baccalaureate does not prevent any school from offering GCSEs in art and design, music, dance and drama. We have been clear that pupils should take GCSEs that are right for them."