Bacc off!

18 Jun

June 2105

Pupils starting secondary school this September will have to study the key English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language at GCSE.

Those schools that do not have 100% of pupils studying this set of subjects as part of their GCSE courses will not be able to obtain Ofsted’s top rating of “outstanding”. Now Bill Watkin, operational director of the school support and training body SSAT, has said that many head teachers in England will reject the ‘requirement to teach EBacc to all’  because they felt that it was not appropriate for all youngsters. 

Voice has also raised its concerns about the “narrow and pointless” EBacc, warning that it does not promote a  broad and balanced curriculum, and excludes vocational and technical subjects, RE, drama, music and ICT from this measure of supposedly “crucial” “rigorous academic” subjects.

As Laura McInerney put it in her Guardian article “There’s nothing sadder than EBacc without teachers”:

Schools minister Nick Gibb believes we should force children to study a random set of academic subjects that he’s decided are the best ones, despite there being no evidence to back him up. 

“On its own the English Baccalaureate – or EBacc – sounds perfectly benign. English, maths and science have long been accepted as a core set of subjects, and all children learn languages, history and geography to 14, so why not extend to 16? But we could say that for lots of things. Why not stick RE in there? Or drama? What about ICT?

“In a 2,500-word speech … all about the importance of the EBacc subjects, Gibb never once made the case for why languages, geography or history deserve this special treatment.

“What is true is that religious education numbers have dropped dramatically since the EBacc was introduced, and arts are likely to be hit in the coming years. Gibb admits this – ‘there are several valuable subjects which are not included’ – which raises the question: why not? No answer is forthcoming.

“Then there’s the problem with recruitment. Teacher shortages are already panicking headteachers and, put simply, there aren’t enough language and humanities teachers out there to make this work.”

Mr Gibb claimed that “there is time for most pupils to study other subjects in addition to the EBacc, including vocational and technical disciplines which are also vital to future economic growth”. If they are “vital”, why not include them?

Your views

Let us know your views on the EBacc.

Do you think that there will be “time for most pupils to study other subjects in addition to the EBacc”?

Should all pupils study the EBacc and should schools have to ensure this to be “outstanding”?


Poll (18 June to 7 October 2015)

“Should all pupils have to study the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language at GCSE?”  


  • No (72%, 23 votes)
  • Yes (28%, 9 votes)  



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11 Responses to “Bacc off!”

  1. Richard Fraser 25. Sep, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    “Wilshaw set to clash with government over EBac” (TES)

  2. Richard Fraser 06. Oct, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    General Secretary interviewed about school curriculum and EBacc on BBC Radio Derby (02:15:20)…
    providing a broad and balanced curriculum that enables pupils to leave education as rounded individuals with employability skills and ability to succeed in life…. academic and vocational subjects should complement each other not compete… the accountability regime driving a restricted curriculum … the education needs of UK pupils should take precedence over improving our position in international league tables…

  3. Richard Fraser 05. Nov, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    From TeacherToolkit:

  4. Richard Fraser 09. Mar, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    School music warning:

  5. Richard Fraser 19. Jul, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    Consultation outcome:

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