What is the EBacc?
- The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a headline accountability measure for schools in England which has a major impact on what pupils study.
- It measures the achievement of pupils gaining GCSE qualifications in English, Maths, History or Geography, the Sciences and a Language.
- The EBacc was first introduced by then-Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2010. As a result of the first campaign led by Bacc for the Future which was set up by the ISM in 2012, the Government dropped its policy in 2013. Following the unexpected Conservative party win in 2015, the EBacc policy was relaunched, with proposals for 75% of pupils to be studying it by 2022, and 90% to be studying it by 2025.
Why is the EBacc a cause for concern?
- Put simply: the EBacc excludes creative subjects.
- The EBacc does not measure achievement in creative, artistic and technical subjects such as Music, Drama and Design and Technology which means schools are less likely to offer creative, artistic and technical GCSEs. In turn this is making it much less likely that pupils will study these subjects later, or participate in extra-curricular activities related to them.
- Figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications show there has been a 34% decline in the number of state pupils taking arts and creative subjects at GCSE since 2010.
- Studies by the University of Sussex, King’s College London, the Education Policy Institute and the BBC have shown a clear link to the EBacc.
- The EBacc threatens the skills pipeline for creative industries in the UK, with severe consequences for their ability to recruit future talent. Without action by the sector to change the Government’s mind, the UK risks losing our USP as a global centre for the creative industries.
Key statistics on the decline of arts GCSEs
The table below shows the scale of the decline in uptake in the period since the EBacc was first introduced in 2010. The figures are the Department for Education's own data.
|Subject||2014/15*||2015/16||2016/17||2017/18||% decline since 2014/15||Change in % of cohort||Fall in entries since 2014/15 as a proportion of total number of pupils at the end of KS4|
|Art and Design||170,800||167,479**||157,596**||154,815||9.36||-1.72||5.12|
|Any Design and Technology||184,200||175,063||150,694||114,879||37.64||-10.46||34.71|
|Performing Arts||6,000||5,308||4,064||- ||-||-||-|
|Total Music, Drama, Art and Design, Any Design and Technology, and Media/Film/TV||520,400||498,911||450,143||407,714||21.65||-15.31||17.98|
|Total number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4||611,024||600,425||587,640||583,617||4.49||-||-|
End of Key Stage 4 GCSE entry numbers for all schools in England.
Source: Department for Education statisticshttps://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-gcses-key-stage-4
**Incorporates Applied Art and Design
A dash indicates no figures available. Due to lack of figures throughout the period Performing Arts and Dance are not included in the total numbers doing creative subjects.
The data shows that discounting subjects where figures are not available throughout the period, there has been a 17.98% fall since 2014/15 in the numbers taking creative subjects as a proportion of the overall GCSE cohort.
Why is the EBacc a failure on its own terms?
- The Government’s target is for 75% of pupils to be sitting the EBacc by 2022 and 90% by 2025.
- By contrast, in 2018, only 38% of state pupils in England sat the EBacc, and just 21% passed it. These figures have been almost static for years.
- Even as it damages creative and artistic education in our schools, the EBacc is failing on its own terms. There is no justification for keeping it in its current form or for retaining unreachable targets.
What can you do about it?
- Use our template letter to write to your MP and make sure they know about the damage being caused by the EBacc.
- Read our advocacy pack and share it with friends who are worried about the impact of the EBacc on our schools.
- Tell your friends about the campaign on social media, using the hashtag #BaccfortheFuture.
What does Bacc for the Future propose instead?
Bacc for the Future believes there are a number of viable alternatives to the present EBacc which have extensive support across the arts and the political spectrum.
We believe the simplest option is to reform the EBacc by including a “sixth pillar” of arts and creative subjects. This was recommended by Darren Henley, now Chief Executive of Arts Council England, in his 2011 review of music education in England.
The Government could also abolish the EBacc and Progress 8 outright. However, if it does so, it must ensure that any new accountability measures effectively incorporate arts and creative subjects.
Bacc for the Future supporter the Edge Foundation, an education thinktank chaired by former Education Secretary Lord Baker, produced a report in 2016 which detailed its ideas for a “New Baccalaureate” incorporating creative subjects. You can read the full report on the Edge Foundation website.