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Headmaster’s blog – Relief over reform

February 9, 2013

areidlowres41This week we saw a U-turn in the Secretary of State’s determination to introduce the Ebacc into the lives of pupils from 2015. It was refreshing to note opposing views had been considered and also to see an apology from a politician in the House of Commons for the pace of change and for ‘one reform too many’.
There is little doubt that GCSEs need refreshing and if this leads to a more robust and valued qualification then the pain of this change is worth enduring. I do have concerns, however, if the emphasis on terminal exams means that coursework (or controlled assessments) disappear almost entirely. This work, involving problem solving and research over a period of time and resulting in a substantial body of work, has much value in itself and also goes some way to helping those pupils who clearly struggle in the exam hall.
My greatest relief, however, in the dropping of the Ebacc lies in the positive impact on creative subjects. I was always against the elevation of particular subjects (even though one of them, history, is my own discipline) as this served to limit choice and would have led to the downgrading of more artistic and practical subjects. Here at Ballard we offer four GCSE courses, for example, in performing arts: drama, music, dance and expressive arts. In addition we also teach GCSEs in Home Economics (food technology), Product Design (technology) and in Art (the fine arts). An over-emphasis on the Ebacc would have caused these subjects to suffer and pupils to be narrowed in their education in these crucial mid-teen years.
My hat goes off to Michael Gove for having the courage to accept he was wrong but I do remain somewhat concerned about what else may lie around the corner where educational reform is concerned!

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