The report also highlights a shortage in qualified music teachers in schools
Arts education can help schools boost literacy and numeracy instead of being seen as a luxury, the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) claims in a new report.
It said the arts should be used as an “enabler to drive up standards” and should not be seen as a low priority taking up scarce resources.
The ACW stressed the value of engaging young people in “creative practice”.
The education minister acknowledged the findings and said they would be used as part of a curriculum-wide review.
The report said: “The current, and very necessary, emphasis on literacy and numeracy is narrowing the focus of schools and limiting the opportunities for young people to engage in creative practice that can – ironically – lead to improved standards in these areas.”
The ACW, which was commissioned to carry out the review, said it was also worried that teachers “bombarded with other directives” and facing tighter budgets were unable to make the arts a priority.
It goes on to say that “costs are not the only problem” with concern there are not enough arts teachers available to do the job.
The report also highlights a shortage in qualified music teachers and schools charging for instrument lessons.
“In practice, schools have to adapt and tailor their own solutions to keep musical instrument tuition affordable – or risk cutting the service,” it said.
ACW chair Dai Smith said: “Teaching in and through the arts, far from detracting from literacy and numeracy, should be seen as an enabler to driving up standards in those academic priorities.
“The value of the arts therefore needs to be reiterated with schools and, importantly, schools need to be supported in taking up and delivering more imaginative approaches to cross-curricular creative activity.”
Responding to the report, Education Minister Huw Lewis said: “It highlights the role of a creative arts-rich approach in engaging learners and developing creative skills through the arts, and how this could lead to benefits across all subject areas.
“We will now take time to consider the report in detail alongside our wider review of the curriculum as a whole and will also look at how we can enhance joint working between our arts and education sectors in Wales.”
In June, a group chaired by Paralympic multi-gold winning medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson stressed the case for giving PE the same status in schools as maths, English, science and Welsh to help tackle obesity.