EBacc entry rates growing at the expense of all else


Schools have been trying to boost English Baccalaureate entry rates by spending less time on the rest of the curriculum or offering non-EBacc subjects in after-school sessions, according to the latest government-commissioned research.

The ASK Research study for the Department for Education also shows that some schools offer subjects outside the EBacc ‘through enrichment’, and that they are not necessarily offered at GCSE level.

The researchers looked at 30 schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted that had increased their EBacc entry rates by 40 percentage points or more between 2011 and 2017. Schools said they supported pupils who found EBacc subjects more difficult by giving them more time on those subjects.

And to balance these ‘competing demands on time’, some schools were ’allocating less curriculum time to non-EBacc subjects by having them taught for all students a term at a time or offering them through enrichment or after-school sessions, and not necessarily studied to GCSE’. 

Another option was ’extending the school day for all in order to incorporate longer lesson times and/or more time for EBacc subjects’.

And some schools had chosen to offer compulsory RE, PE and personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) ‘in more creative ways, including as extracurricular activities, during tutor time or ‘intensive’ days, or within other subjects’.   

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said the findings strengthened the case for scrapping the EBacc performance measure.

Bousted said: ‘This DfE research shows what everyone except [schools minister] Nick Gibb knows. [The EBacc] pushes the curriculum out of shape and it is pure stubbornness to believe that is not the case.

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