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Headmaster’s Blog 1 September 2015

September 1, 2015

arnewlowresHere we are just after the GCSE results (delighted with Ballard’s stellar GCSE performance) and we are again being asked to consider the Government’s English baccalaureate (compulsory English, Maths, Science, a modern language and a humanity). I approve of all these subjects and as an historian have a clear affinity for promoting the Humanities, of course. As with many Heads, however, I am opposed to having our young people forced to take a particular subject combination beyond the foundation subjects of English, Maths and Science.

It is clear to me that a compulsory EBacc will rob pupils of choice and the opportunity to excel in areas of special interest. So-called ‘minority subjects’ will wither. The arguments have been well made in the Press this week and so I am content to quote some of these below:

A survey by the ASCL (the association of senior college lecturers) suggests the majority of headteachers are opposed to a government move which will require all teenagers to take GCSEs in traditional academic subjects. Under the change, children starting secondary school in England from next month will have to study English, maths, science, history or geography and a language at GCSE – the subjects included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measure. However, around 87% of nearly 1,000 ASCL members said they disagree with the reform, while around 10% support it. Of those opposed, 81% said that the range of subjects required is too inflexible; around 86% said it will leave less room for creative or vocational subjects; around 97% said it does not suit every pupil; and 58% said the change is an unfair performance measure on schools. At the same time, some 74% of those with concerns agreed that more flexibility in the choice of subjects would make them more inclined to support it. ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: “We understand that ministers intend to consult widely during the autumn over their plan for compulsory EBacc, and we are very pleased that they are doing so. We hope that this will lead to them building more flexibility into this system. It is clear from our survey that the vast majority of school leaders are concerned that the current proposals are too rigid and will restrict their ability to offer a curriculum which suits the needs of all their pupils.”

(Extracts from the Independent and the Yorkshire Post)

So, I welcome further consultation and debate and trust that this will lead to the very best for the pupils in our care.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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