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English Baccalaureate (Ebacc)

May 11, 2011

Headmaster Mr Reid, Ballard School

There is much talk in the Press at the moment about the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) which the Government introduced retrospectively earlier this year as a means of analysing last year’s GCSE results.

Whilst I applaud the drive to offer pupils a broad education, here at Ballard we already do this and I feel that any attempt to impose the Ebacc will actually be counter-productive to choice and our holistic approach. Currently the Ebacc measurement is English, Maths, Science, a Modern Foreign Language and a Humanities subject (either History or Geography) at C grade and higher. Our ‘core’ at Ballard is English (Language and Literature), Maths (including Statistics as a separate GCSE) and Science (two for all pupils and three separate sciences for the most able but with the decision delayed until Year 11).

We promote MFL strongly – and the success of the department can be seen in the high take-up of French, German and Spanish with exchange trips currently offered in the first two – but we don’t make a language compulsory as this would limit choice elsewhere. The same is true in the Humanities: as a History teacher by training, I applaud its inclusion in the Ebacc but some of our pupils receive their broadening through other subjects such as Religious Studies and Business Studies. Moreover, the Ebacc ignores subjects which we believe are extremely important within our all-round education such as Theatre Studies / Drama, Dance, Music and Expressive Arts – all part of Ballard’s niche emphasis.

What, too, of Art, Technology, Product Design, Food technology, ICT and PE which require significant study and research alongside a ‘hands on’ approach? As soon as pupils are compelled to take certain subjects beyond those which everyone accepts are essential to modern life (English, Maths and Science) then choice is narrowed. Ballard is a non-selective school – but certainly an academic one – and our ethos is based around encouraging pupils to take a wide range of subjects and activities, sports and outward bounds. The Ebacc will hamstring this approach in a school such as ours.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 8, 2011 3:46 pm

    Mr Reid is correct in suggesting that the EBac ought to recognise subjects such as Dance, Drama, Music and so on. However, I do not see Religious Studies and Business Studies as an alternative to History for example. Too many young people have no interest in learning about hard facts, which a subject such as History enables you to do. The re-introduction of a language, either a modern foreign one such as French, German or Spanish or an ancient one such as Latin should be welcome. We have to bear in mind that we in this country have one of the lowest levels of language skills in the world. Knowledge gained while studying History and a foreign language allows people to learn about other cultures as well as their own or at least that of the country where they live. Do not think the content of Business Studies and Religious Studies serves the same purpose.
    Perhaps there should be such thing as “EBac plus” which requires young people to be even more rounded by including an extra creative arts subject in its requirement? I believe that the current requirement is sensible and achievable by the vast majority.

    Idris Mustapha
    Excel in Key Subjects
    Please see blod on EBac at http://www.excelinkeysubjects.com/blog/what-is-the-ebac/

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