EBacc snubs arts

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Teachers voice their concerns as creative and vocational subjects are removed from GCSE options

A recent survey has shown that 84% of teachers report a decrease in the number of vocational subjects being offered at GCSE level in secondary schools across the country.

The survey of 1,800 National Union of Teachers members found that most blame fell on the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The EBacc is a performance measure for schools which considers the number of students that achieve a C or higher in five core academic subjects: English, maths, the sciences, foreign languages, history and geography. The Department of Education’s goal is for 90% of pupils to match the requirements of the EBacc.

Teachers in the NUT survey, however, say that this drive has led to a swathe of schools withdrawing support for subjects such as music and drama, leaving pupils with reduced options.

“Excellent candidates for artistic subjects have been actively discouraged from taking arts courses and told to do triple science and EBacc instead,” said one music teacher.

The move is feared to lead to students being deprived of culture, particularly those from poorer families or living in low-income areas. The survey highlighted that struggling schools were more likely to report a reduced number of GCSE’s to choose from.

Conversely, entry rates in subjects such as Modern Foreign Languages, geography and history have surged. This is not, however, good news for teachers.

“Students are pressured into the EBacc with the result that they are now taking subjects that they ‘dislike least’,” said one history teacher, who warned that the result would be demotivated pupils and a higher incidence of behavioural issues in classes.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, called for the government to address the concerns of EBacc raised by the survey. “The demands of EBacc are driving creative and vocational subjects out of the curriculum and are harming students’ motivation, engagement and appetite for learning.”

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