Statement and responses on the Government response to the EBacc consultation

The Government has responded to the EBacc consultation this morning in a statement to Parliament covered in Schools Week.

Deborah Annetts, leader of the Bacc for the Future campaign said:

‘For a Government that claims to care about economic growth, social mobility, diversity and the creative industries, this decision is short-sighted and misconceived.

‘A matter of weeks after Ofqual confirmed the negative impact the EBacc is having on creative subjects in our schools the Secretary of State has betrayed the future of our children and their opportunities for work as well as our thriving creative industries.

‘We have no choice but to step up the Bacc for the Future campaign and urge the Department for Education to think again. We would ask Justine Greening to meet with Bacc for the Future representatives as soon as possible so she can understand first-hand the damage this misguided policy is having. As the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman said last week: ‘All children should study a broad and rich curriculum.’ We need to create an education which is fit for the 21st Century and fit for our country post-Brexit. This is not the way to do it.’

Aine Lark, Chair of National Drama said:

'National Drama holds steadfast in its belief that creative arts subjects are vital in the delivery of a broad, balanced and rich curriculum. Anything less is a denial of the human rights of a child. Where is the child's voice in this political fiasco?'

Dominic McGonigal, Chair of C8 (consultancy specialising in creative businesses), said:

"This is a strange decision by the Government. In a post Brexit world we will need even more homegrown creative skills throughout the economy. The Government has just turned off the supply tap."

Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

"The Government’s response to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) consultation is both unacceptably late and woefully inadequate. No school should be punished for doing right by their pupils, yet the EBacc policy will penalise schools for offering a broad and balanced curriculum, tailored to the needs and interests of their children.

The EBacc policy has reduced the breadth of subjects offered in many secondary schools, limited opportunities for our children, and driven many staff out of the teaching profession. Long-term damage has been inflicted on creative and technical subjects excluded from the EBacc; subjects such as art, music and technology, that are not just crucial for our economic prosperity but also enrich lives, are disappearing from our schools. As GCSE entries continue to collapse across these subjects the Government must stop interfering in the school curriculum before it is too late. Many schools have resisted fully implementing the Government’s proposals for EBacc because they recognise that this narrow range of subjects is not the right choice for every child.

When ATL recently asked members whether the EBacc performance measure has impacted on students being able to access the best subjects for them, 53% said that it had. Anecdotally members stated: “I now have a student in GCSE History who can barely read and write”, and “this has absolutely decimated the opportunity for students to choose subjects which could actually enable them to succeed”.

“The modified targets for EBacc take-up remain unworkable and simply saying that teachers can decide what’s appropriate for their students is meaningless if they are forced to meet impossible Government accountability targets. The EBacc was introduced because of ministerial whim and nostalgia, and must be withdrawn.” Diane Widdison National Organiser - Education and Training

The Musicians Union said:

We are very disappointed that concrete evidence showing the Ebacc is having a detrimental effect on the take up of Arts subjects within schools has been ignored by the Government in its response to the consultation. Our concern is that arts subjects, such as music, are gradually disappearing from the curriculum and often are only offered as extra subjects with pupils being charged for their delivery. This results in many pupils missing out of the opportunity to study Arts subjects within school and teachers of these subjects leaving the profession due to the lack of opportunity and recognition. We urge the Government to reconsider their position and address this very worrying situation.

Lesley Butterworth, General Secretary of NSEAD said:

"The Secretary of State for Education wants us ‘to become a great meritocracy’ through our education system. But having stated, in her opening paragraph to the response to the consultation about implementing the English Baccalaureate that she wants to remove barriers, she ensures they remain firmly in place as the EBacc continues its toxic journey through the heart of our curriculum and the cultural life of our children and young people.

The NSEAD Survey Report 2015-16 told us that the implementation of the EBacc has reduced opportunities for young people of all abilities to select art and design at GCSE. The voice of our members continues to reiterate the deterioration of time and resources and the lack of value given to our subject as an ‘unintended consequence’ of government policy.

Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Schools at Ofsted has recently shared strong concerns at how not only art and design, but all those subjects outside the EBacc silo are being ‘squeezed’ and how children and young people are unprepared for university and the workplace without a broad and balanced curriculum.
The Society wants an accountability, assessment and progression system that supports, not restricts art and design: a subject unique and vital to our cultures, our society, our economy and ourselves.
We cannot accept the response to the consultation and will continue to vigorously challenge this area of government policy."