The Political Baccalaureate

Is the ‘English Baccalaureate’ anything other than a stick for Michael Gove and the rest of the ConDems to use to beat State education?

This question is prompted by a story in the April 1 edition of the METRO, regrettably not the April Fool spoof, entitled “Schools Cut Bacc on 25,000 pupils”. It goes on to say that students failed to achieve the EB because “schools failed to enter them for the GCSEs they needed” and that “175 state secondaries failed to enter a single pupil for all of the subjects required. To attain the [EB] a student must achieve at least a C grade at GCSE in English, maths, science, history or geography, and a foreign language”.

The whole thrust of this short article, which reads like the opening paragraphs of a Central Office press release, is that state schools have screwed up by failing to enter students for the correct exams. In fact the EB was cobbled together after the formation of the current Government in May last year, whereas students taking GCSEs in Summer 2010 started their courses in September 2008, long before the EB and this Government even existed. Schools are being castigated for failure to correctly predict election results and anticipate future policy.

In the pursuit of higher league table positions, schools will now be mindful of these shifted goalposts when advising students on their options so we can expect an increasing number of students to be entered for the appropriate range of subjects to qualify for the EB. Thus, come the next election in May 2015, Gove intends to use EB pass rates as the criteria of education policy success and point to an EB pass rate of 15.6% when he took office, rising to whatever in 2014. If they do not rise, expect the EB to be quietly forgotten.

I am not arguing against ensuring students are educated in a broad range of subjects, incidently. However what students do not need is yet another piece of paper the Government can manipulate for political advantage.

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One Response to “The Political Baccalaureate”

  1. teachingbattleground Says:

    I have to say that even if schools didn’t know they were going to be judged on this score, they should have been getting pupils to study a range of academic GCSEs anyway. I think the EBacc has been a success in exposing dumbing-down and rewarding schools that didn’t dumb down despite league table pressure.

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