Saturday, 26 February 2011

Negative impact of E Bac already emerging

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  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.

Andrew Chubb

Friday, 11 February 2011

National Governors' Association join coalition to "Build a Better Bacc""

Welcome Aboard

Today the National Governors’ Association joined our coalition to ‘build a better bacc’.  The NGA represents schools governors in England  and is committed to ensuring all young people are encouraged to pursue a broad range of studies that best equips them for life and helps them to develop their full potential.   

Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive, commented ‘We are delighted that Archbishop Sentanu Academy, the Curriculum Foundation, and Whole Education have initiated this coalition.  The development of a better bacc is an extremely positive response to the introduction of the English bacc, and the National Governors’ Association is pleased to be able to play its part in supporting the educational professionals to shape this alternative.’

For more information about NGA, see

I would encourage all NGA members to log on to our web-site, where they can leave comments about the principles that  they believe should underpin the development of a new, world-class, baccalaureate.

Andrew Chubb

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Drive to "Build a Better Bacc" gathers pace

Over the past two days, leaders from a range of educational organisations across the UK have been working with us to finalise plans for the launch of our co-ordinated movement to "build a better bacc"


Reflecting on what we should call ourselves, two names come to mind - "Alliance to Build a Better Bacc"and "Better Bacc Coalition".  Our web-site, "Better Bacc", probably directs us towards the latter, but if this lands us in hot water, then we can always fall back on the vaguely Australian-sounding "COBBA" - Coalition to Build a Better Bacc.  Either way, the launch of our web-site is an important step in the process to provide our students with a truly world-class baccalaureate.

Log on, tune in, use clout

Logging on to will give you the opportunity to read the set of principles that we believe should underpin a broad baccalaureate. It will also give you the opportunity to comment on those principles and to suggest others.  Over the coming days and weeks, we would like to hear from as many interested parties as possible; please leave a comment and a way for us to contact you, so that we can build a baccalaureate that has national support. As soon as we are confident that we have broad agreement on the principles, we will then move quickly to propose a model based on them; from that, we will work with partners in our coalition to construct a more detailed model.


I would like to give particular thanks to colleagues from the Curriculum Foundation, Whole Education, ASCL, the Independent Academies Association, the National Governors' Association and Learning Futures who have all given generously of their time to get us to this point.  I should also mention Archbishop Sentamu Academy's new Vice Principal, Anthony Bennett, and James Aldous working for Whole Education, who have worked very hard over the past 48 hours to establish the web-site in time for today.

Andrew Chubb

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Select Committee established to look at purpose and value of E-Bacc

Purpose and Value of E-Bacc to be scrutinised.

I think that this speaks for itself. I would encourage anyone with a view on this to send a written submission, as asked for by the Education Committee (see notice below).  This is a great opportunity to be constructive, and to put the case for a better alternative.

Andrew Chubb

From: Education Committee <>
Date: 9 February 2011 14:47:15 GMT
Subject: New Inquiry: The English Baccalaureate

Education Committee
Select Committee Announcement
9 February 2011
For Immediate Release:
Call for evidence
The Education Committee is announcing a short inquiry into the English Baccalaureate (E-Bac). Written submissions are invited, addressing the following points:
·         the purpose and benefits of the E-Bac and its value as a measure of pupil and school performance;
·         the choice of subjects included in the E-Bac;
·         the implications of the E-Bac for pupils, schools and employers;
·         international comparators for the E-Bac.
The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines below by noon on Tuesday 8 March 2011.
Please note
A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked “E-Bac inquiry”.  The Committee’s strong preference is for submissions in electronic form, although hard copy originals will be accepted. Submissions should be sent to Kathryn Smith, Committee Assistant, at:
Education Select Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
Each submission should:
  • be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • have numbered paragraphs; and
  • (if in electronic form) be in Word format or a rich text format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.
For Data Protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please supply a postal address so that a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.
A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:
Please also note that:
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, although not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives.  If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. 
  • The Committee does not normally investigate individual cases.
Committee Membership is as follows: 
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair), Conservative, Beverley and Holderness
Neil Carmichael, Conservative, Stroud
Nic Dakin, Labour, Scunthorpe
Bill Esterson, Labour, Sefton Central
Pat Glass, Labour, North West Durham
Damian Hinds, Conservative, East Hampshire
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative, Bristol North West
Ian Mearns, Labour, Gateshead
Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat, Wells
Lisa Nandy, Labour, Wigan
Craig Whittaker, Conservative, Calder Valley
Specific Committee Information / 020 7219 6181
Media Information: Rebecca Jones, / 020 7219 5693
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online 
Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474).  Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on

Delegates at "Whole Education" conference have first sight of our new award

Warm Reception

This afternoon, I presented the principles underpinning our alternative baccalaureate for the first time, at the Whole Education conference in Manchester.  The outline of the new award was very well received by delegates, who also made some constructive suggestions as to how we could tweak it further. This first draft will be put onto our website, which will be "live" in a few days' time.

Consensus Building

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to many people of varying political persuasions about the E-Bacc. Some of these are individuals speaking for themselves, whilst others represent organisations.  To date, every single one has expressed the view that there is now a great opportunity to develop the idea of a baccalaureate into an award that will add real value to students' education, and improve their life opportunities.  When the website goes live, you will be able to post any comments on the site, and have your say.  We look forward to your helping us to "build a better bacc"

Andrew Chubb

Monday, 7 February 2011

Alliance to "Build a Better Bacc" strengthens as ASCL lend their full support

Over the weekend, ASCL gave their enthusiastic support to "build a better bacc", and are now part of the broad coalition that is working on a re-drafting  of Archbishop Sentamu Academy's  initial proposals.  We are looking to publish these shortly.

Following on from the IAA conference, around 30 academy principals have already indicated that they too would support our work; they will now also be reviewing our proposals when they emerge.  If you would like to receive regular updates  and send us any comments, please register this at:


Saturday, 5 February 2011

System Leadership - the difference a preposition can make

The Case for a “Full” Baccalaureate
Speaking to colleagues at the IAA conference over the past two days, it is clear that there is a palpable anger against the E-Bacc reform that the Coalition is trying to introduce.   True, there is talk of a “Tech-Bacc” which might be accepted alongside the E-Bacc.  However, this will not solve the central divisiveness of the latter, for the following reasons:

Firstly, it is likely to be available to relatively few students.  It may well be an excellent choice of subjects for students in one of the new UTCs or similarly well-equipped schools or academies.  However (and this does admittedly depend on the final format of the tech bacc), the equipment and teaching expertise needed to deliver it may preclude it from becoming a fully mainstream option.

The broader problem however is that it is likely to lead to a two-tier system anyway, where traditional and deep-rooted prejudices in our society lead to students who achieve the “E-Bacc” being seen as the most successful, with those accomplishing a “Tech-Bacc” being seen as gaining “the next best thing”.  For the same reason, let’s not propose a “Vocational Baccalaureate” either– that would almost inevitably be seen as a third-rate qualification behind the other two.

The solution is, I believe, a baccalaureate qualification to which all students can aspire, no matter what their individual interests or passions.  For an example of this, see my earlier blog post from the 13th January

An educational “Berlin Wall”
As time progresses, I believe that the E-Bacc has the capacity to become an educational “Berlin Wall”, dividing our students into two groups – those seen as “academic” (whatever that term really means), and those who are not.  The Berlin Wall itself lasted for nearly 30 years, and I would see the E-Bacc as having the potential to create a divide in our society that could potentially have similarly long-lasting consequences.

The key question is this: What can we do about it?

System Leadership – an ablative view
The currently understood definition of “system leadership” usually implies leadership of part of “the system”.  Thus we have several inspirational examples of such leadership today whereby a successful school or academy assumes responsibility and accountability for one or more weaker schools, transforming the opportunities and outcomes of many students as a result.

I believe that the challenge we face over the introduction of the E-Bacc however calls for system leadership of a different kind, one which is defined semantically by the ablative prepositions from or by.

Leadership from or by the system:
Many Headteachers feel that they have no choice other than, however reluctantly, to alter their schools’ curricula so that they can be seen to be making progress against what seems to be an inevitable new league table.  However, if at system level all secondary heads refused to go along with this, sticking instead to what they believed to be in the best interests of their students, then the new metric of the E-Bacc would quickly lose any power to force colleagues to take account of it.  Such leadership from or by the system would result in our being able to introduce a baccalaureate that was of real benefit to students.

So where do we go from here?
Over the next week, our Alliance for developing a high quality baccalaureate will be developing a set of core principles that we believe should underpin any new overarching qualification.  We would like as many Headteachers as possible to be able to sign up to these principles, whilst the details of the baccalaureate are being finally determined.

There are a number of ways in which you could contribute to this process.

1.     E-mail any comments to the following address: Please indicate if you would like to be informed of developments, and I will add you to a mailing list;
2.     If you are an academy principal, join the IAA (Independent Academies Association).  As an association, we have direct access to ministers, and are thus able to put forward members’ points of view to government;
3.     When the time is right to launch our Baccalaureate, we would like to do so from secondary schools and academies across the country.  If you would be willing to host such an event (possible at fairly short notice), please let me know via the fullbacc email address;
4.     Follow developments on Twitter.  The easiest way to do this is to join Twitter, and sign up to “follow” my “tweets”.  My profile is ASAprincipal

I look forward to engaging in further discussion with you all

Andrew Chubb

Friday, 4 February 2011

Alliance builds for a "fuller" baccalaureate

Over the past two days, I have been outlining to delegates at the Independent Academies Association our proposals for giving students a much rounder baccalaureate than the "E-Bacc" currently proposed by the Secretary of State.  The ideas have been enthusiastically received by many  academy principals, who are keen to ensure that students' interests are kept at the heart of curriculum reform.  Delegates welcomed the broader range of subjects at the core, and the wider range of options open to students.

I am also pleased to announce that "Whole Education", chaired by Dr. John Dunford (recent General Secretary of ASCL), is now working with us to develop our baccalaureate further.

Over the coming week, we will be refining further the core principles of our award, in preparation for a more general release in the near future.

Andrew Chubb