Commenting on the government's response to the consultation on the EBacc, Paul Whiteman, general secretary designate of school leaders' union NAHT, says "NAHT has consistently opposed the arbitrary target for pupils to study EBacc subjects. For some pupils, this will be the right selection of subjects, but EBacc should be an entitlement for students, not an obligation. At the moment, the EBacc is an unnecessary straitjacket for schools and students.
"When surveyed earlier this year, 87 per cent of school leaders were opposed to the proposal that at least 90 per cent of students in mainstream secondary schools must be entered for the EBacc. The EBacc offers a narrow vision of academic excellence and disregards the importance of creative subjects that many employers value highly. We should trust school leaders to offer the rich and varied curriculum children and young people need."
James Bowen, director of middle leaders' union NAHT Edge, says "The EBacc is an unhelpful restriction on school autonomy and another attempt to drive behaviour through exam reforms and league tables. Ofsted's Amanda Spielman has rightly stressed the need for a broad and balanced curriculum, and the unhelpful role accountability measures have in narrowing the curriculum.
"Although it is not without its own issues, we would prefer Progress 8 to be allowed time to be used as a performance measure because this enables more opportunity for school leaders to provide a curriculum that suits all of their students. A huge programme of GCSE reform means all subjects are more challenging, rigorous and demanding."
Key points from the consultation:
- The government confirmed its ambition to have "75 per cent of year 10 pupils in state-funded mainstream schools starting to study GCSEs in the EBacc combination of subjects by September 2022, rising to 90 per cent of year 10 pupils studying GCSEs in the EBacc subjects by 2025"
- From 2018, the government intends to change the headline EBacc attainment measure from the proportion of pupils achieving a grade 5 and above in the EBacc subjects to an EBacc average point score
- From 2019, the Department for Education intends to report additional performance measures showing:
* how school EBacc entry and achievement rates compare to similar schools; and
* value added EBacc entry – this will show how a school's EBacc entry rates compare with those nationally for pupils with similar prior attainment.
The full government response can be found here alongside its accompanying written statement, which can be found here.