Schools already changing curricula to prepare for E Bac
Education is beset with changes often made with the best of intentions, but without piloting or proper consultation. The consequences can prove ineffective or even counter-productive. As a coalition, we have been monitoring closely the impact of the E Bac on schools' curricula. One of our members is Gareth Mills, who currently works for the Curriculum Foundation. Gareth was formerly Head of futures, innovation and e-learning, at the QCA, and subsequently its Head of curriculum development. His research has revealed that the introduction of the E Bac is already having a negative effect on the provision of education to some young people:
In a survey by the National Association of Music Teachers, 60 per cent of respondents said their departments had already been adversely affected by the EBac. Music teachers in 57 out of 95 schools said their schools plan to reduce opportunities to study music from this September.
The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education polled almost 800 schools and found that nearly one in three secondary schools are planning to cut time spent teaching RE as a result of the English Bac.
The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) polled over 100 teachers. Over 60% of art teachers told NSEAD they thought fewer pupils would start art GCSE courses this autumn because of the introduction of the English Bac. John Steers, general secretary of the society, said it felt as if the government had launched an "assault" on art and design. "Clearly the ministers don't value the subjects… …It is particularly strange because the creative industries employ so many British people.”
This worrying set of “knee-jerk” reactions would indicate that the E Bac is likely to have a detrimental effect on pupils’ education, as schools feel compelled to offer those subjects which will enable them to be viewed favourably in what is, to all intents and purposes, another “league table”.
In the best interests of students?
I would urge school leaders and governors to reflect further before making changes such as these. Firstly, there is a select committee enquiry into the E Bac being held next month. This could lead to changes to the make-up of the E Bac. Secondly, our own coalition to design a broader baccalaureate is gathering momentum. We are now aiming to have a well-developed model in place by the end of this academic year, giving schools and academies a year to plan for its delivery from September 2012. Our project plan to achieve this will give schools, academies, employers and further education providers the opportunity to contribute to its development. We believe that with sufficient numbers of schools committed to the delivery of a broader baccalaureate, the value of the E Bac will be greatly diminished.
Are you an "E Bac failure"?
If so, you are in some very good company. Visit our website www.abetterbaccalaureate.org to find out who else would not have qualified for the E Bac, and leave your own story. The website also gives the principles underpinning our broader baccalaureate, which we think will serve our students much better than the E Bac ever will.