What is the Government proposing?
- The Government’s proposals for an English Baccalaureate (EBacc) would result in GCSEs in the EBacc subjects being replaced by English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs). The EBacc would consist of five core subjects - maths, English, sciences, a language and history or geography.
- The EBacc would not include any vocational education or arts subjects.
- Students who did not pass would only get a record of achievement. This would create a two tier system. GCSEs would remain in other, non-EBacc subjects, at least in the short term.
- Current indications are that there would be a three hour terminal exam in most subjects, with no modular examinations.
- The new qualifications in English, sciences and maths would start in 2015. There are no start dates yet for the others.
What do we think is wrong with the Government’s proposals?
- We are worried that creative and vocational subjects of importance to the cultural and economic health of our nation will be treated as after-thoughts.
- There will be no assessment other than a three-hour end of course examination for most subjects.
- The Government is rushing through these proposals despite the public outcry against them. There is nothing wrong with reviewing the examination system but the current consultation is too narrow. The views of parents, students, governors, businesses, teachers, head teachers and other concerned stakeholders need to be fully considered.
- We are worried that getting rid of tiered papers in examinations will not reflect the true abilities of all young people. A single tier for all pupils could lead to exams which neither allow the most able to demonstrate their full abilities nor enable the least able to access many of the questions set.
- We are concerned that a statement of achievement given to young people who do not achieve the EBacc will not reflect their true achievement. This is blatantly a two tier system of success and failure. A statement of achievement will certainly be seen as being of less value by employers and colleges.
What would we like to see?
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- Fuller consideration of the status of such subjects as arts, music, design and vocational education at all levels of the curriculum.
- An examination system which recognises the talents and skills of all pupils and ensures a broad and balanced curriculum.
- An opportunity to consider the outcomes of the forthcoming review of secondary school accountability and the review of the secondary national curriculum before the final design of qualifications is decided.
- Discussion of how children across the achievement range will gain accreditation in any new system, particularly given the proposal for there to be no assessment other than a three-hour end of course examination for most subjects.
- An extended consultation in time and content to address the above concerns before any steps are taken to implement the EBacc. This extended consultation should fully engage with the views of parents, students, governors, businesses, teachers, head teachers and other concerned stakeholders before any changes are made.