English Baccalaureate’s impact: round-up of recent coverage

Tuesday, February 8th

Right, I am interested in the impact of the Government’s new “English Baccalaureate” performance measure in schools, which was introduced in last month’s GCSE league tables.

I wrote a piece in the Guardian  on this last month, amid widespread predictions that there would be a big effect on the curriculum offerings of at least some schools.

The TES also covered the story that week, but there was some speculation (see TES analysis here ), that the true impact might be limited, with schools continuing to focus much of their energy on the established (mouthful of an) indicator measuring the proportion of children achieving five or more A*-Cs including English and maths, or vocational equivalent.

However, since then, the TES has carried stories here  and here predicting major changes to school curricula because of the publication of this new indicator. The Guardian  also had a piece this week on this. Disturbingly, I think, the first of those TES stories included claims in relation to an anonymous school which was said to be getting pupils to abandon GCSE courses they had already started, in favour of subjects within the EBacc, simply because of the new measure.

I put a message on twitter describing that as “scandalous”. If schools are taking pupils out of courses mid-way through, it does look as if their own need for good results statistics is being put ahead of doing the right thing for the individual. I had a couple of interesting responses from people responding on twitter. One said: “I know several [schools] talking about changes for 2012 [GCSE] entries.”

Another said: “I’ve been working with some schools this week & they say many are trying to get kids through GCSE in 5 months so they count.” Another said: “School already have. Need more backbone.”

We’ll get a very good picture in the end on the EBacc’s effect, of course, when exams results data start to come through, starting this summer if there is truly to be any impact from schools trying to rush pupils through courses in…five months, but then from 2012 and 13 as the new indicator starts to bed in. In any case, watch this space for more on the EBacc.

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