Forcing all pupils to sit eBacc is wrong, says Ofsted Chief

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Government plans to force all secondary students to sit GCSEs in the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate have been challenged by head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Sir Michael told the Times Educational Supplement (TES) that the policy will be a problem for some young people because the EBAC may not properly prepare every student for education after GCSEs - particularly those who wanted to undertake an apprenticeship.

He said: “I can think of youngsters, even at the highest-performing schools, who will find it a problem. I can think of youngsters who would have been better suited to do English, maths and science and a range of vocational subjects.”

Although ministers haven't yet raised the matter with Ofsted, he confirmed they would receive a robust response if they did so.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan would like to see all pupils study the five traditional subjects included in the EBacc school performance measure to ensure all pupils receive a rigorous academic education and to avoid pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds being put off academic subjects.

Schools thatdo not have 100 per cent of pupils studying this set of subjects at GCSE would not be able to obtain Ofsted's top rating of 'outstanding', according to the Conservative manifesto.

Sir Michael told the TES he agreed more young people should be studying these subjects, but said the combination was not suitable for everyone.

Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We welcome Sir Michael’s comments and share the concerns he has expressed.

“In a recent survey conducted by ASCL, we found that nearly 90 per cent of school leaders disagreed with compulsory EBacc for every pupil.

“The traditional academic focus of the EBacc subjects does not suit every pupil and it is unfair on young people to take a one-size-fits-all approach to their education. We are concerned that creative, technology and vocational subjects will be squeezed out of the curriculum."

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