EBacc scrapped in favour of reformed GCSEs

  • 7 February 2013

Earlier today Michael Gove issued a statement announcing the abandonment of his plans to replace GCSEs with the EBacc (English Baccalaureate certificate), admitting it was a ‘bridge too far’.

Michael Gove, Education Secretary

Michael Gove, Education Secretary

The proposed change in education policy raised significant concerns from the arts and cultural sectors as to the future of the arts in state education.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said this morning, "We are relieved that the government has had the courage to listen to the deep concerns of so many and has taken this rational decision to leave in place qualifications that recognise the arts as core subjects of learning.”

Michael Gove speaking at the Houses of Parliament outlined his new vision for statutory education which included the strengthening of core GCSEs and the continuation of all subjects, including arts and cultural education.

What is the EBacc?

The EBacc system is a performance measure used in secondary schools for children aged 14-16 years. Plans to enforce the EBacc across all schools aimed to create a more rigorous, exam-based method of performance testing children.

How would it have affected the arts?

Essentially it was felt that the EBacc relegated rather than championed arts and cultural learning, and as already stretched schools responded to the pressures of the EBacc they would be forced to drop arts subjects from their curriculum – especially those in deprived areas. This has already been seen in schools running the EBacc. The Cultural Learning Alliance reported that schools participating in the EBacc were cutting art, dance, drama, music and technology courses; 15% of schools surveyed in 2012 for the Department for Education had withdrawn one or more arts subjects as a result of it.

This evidence suggested the EBacc programme was decreasing many students’ access to arts and cultural learning, which of course could have a disastrous affect on the range of students studying creative courses in higher education. We believe students from all backgrounds should have access to a rich arts education, and the government should be championing the arts.

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