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A letter to the editor - The Ebacc

David Harbourne, Edge’s acting chief executive, adds his name to a number of signatories to a letter published in The Times today (Wednesday, January 6th, 2016) that express ‘deep concern’ by the Government’s proposals to set a 90 per cent target of pupils taking GCSE subjects.

They say:

We are deeply concerned by the Department for Education’s proposals to make the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) all but compulsory in schools as a headline accountability measure.

The EBacc proposal means that every pupil taking his or her GCSEs would have to study a minimum of seven, narrowly defined, GCSEs: English literature and English language, maths, double or triple science, a modern and/or ancient language, history and/or geography.

The intention is for the EBacc effectively to become compulsory, with the education secretary expecting to see ‘at least 90 per cent of students entering the EBacc’.

The average number of GCSEs taken by pupils in England is eight. If these plans become a reality, there would be little room left for pupils to study creative industry-relevant subjects and the arts would be squeezed out of schools altogether. In 2010-15 we have already seen a 14 per cent drop in creative and technical qualifications being taken.

The UK’s creative industries are world-leading in their own right, contribute more than £76 billion to the UK economy and employ more than 1.7 million people (more than 1 in 20 UK jobs). To continue to build a thriving creative economy, the arts must be given equal visibility in our schools. At the Bacc for the Future campaign we believe that it makes no sense for the government to implement an educational strategy which is narrowing a skills base in an area so integral to our economy’s success.

As published on The Times website on 6th January 2015.