Alex Stevens

Editor, Music Teacher

Government reaffirms commitment to EBacc

12:15, 27th July 2017

The government has responded to the public consultation on the implementation of the English Baccalaureate Key Stage 4 performance measure, nearly 18 months after the consultation closed.

The response reaffirms the Department for Education’s aim that 90% of pupils should take the combination of exams required, but puts back the target year in which this should happen from 2020 to 2025. By 2022, that figure should be 75%, an overall timetable described in the response as ‘pragmatic and stretching’.

In her foreword, secretary of state Justine Greening wrote: ‘I am committed to unlocking the potential of all pupils regardless of their background and this is why, as set out in our 2017 manifesto, I would like to see 90% of pupils starting to study GCSEs in the EBacc combination of subjects in 2025.’

She continued that, according to Russell Group universities, these subjects ‘open more doors to more degrees … They also enrich pupils’ studies and give them a broad general knowledge that will enable them to participate in and contribute to society.’

The response commits Ofsted to clarifying how it will reflect the government’s EBacc policy before September 2018, ‘taking into account the starting point of each school and the steps the school has taken to respond to the EBacc policy’.

It confirms that no single measure, including EBacc entry and achievement rates, will determine the overall outcome of a school inspection.

Overall, 2,755 responses were received, including 706 from teachers, 656 through the Bacc for the Future campaign, 549 from headteachers and school leaders, and 12 from pupils.

Deborah Annetts, founder and leader of the Bacc for the Future campaign, said the response was ‘short-sighted and misconceived’.

‘A matter of weeks after Ofqual confirmed the negative impact the EBacc is having on creative subjects in our schools the Secretary of State has betrayed the future of our children and their opportunities for work as well as our thriving creative industries.

‘We have no choice but to step up the Bacc for the Future campaign and urge the Department for Education to think again. We would ask Justine Greening to meet with Bacc for the Future representatives as soon as possible so she can understand first-hand the damage this misguided policy is having.’

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the measure ‘helps neither students, parents, teachers, nor school leaders … Progress 8 has superseded the need for the EBacc. We would have preferred the government to let it quietly curl up and wither away.’

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: ‘This response demonstrates that this government is continuing to pursue a policy that is ill-thought-through and short-termist – in spite of its claims to want to boost productivity and life chances.

‘The creative industries have been identified as one of five priority sectors in the government’s industrial strategy in recognition of their economic contribution. However the Department for Education has not answered the sector’s concerns by continuing to sideline creative education in favour of academic subjects.

‘In recent months the CIF has had informal assurances from ministers and officials across Whitehall that they understand the importance of creative education – but we are waiting for any positive movement, specifically from DfE, that reflects this.’

The government’s response to the consultation can be found here.

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