EBacc stifles opportunity for arts learning and social mobility

The New Schools Network today published a report, The Two Cultures: do schools have to choose between the EBacc and arts? Edge Chief Executive, Alice Barnard, commented:

‘Edge finds it disappointing that while this report rightly celebrates high attaining students in good schools being entered for arts GCSEs alongside EBacc subjects, it neglects to address the reality for low attainers and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are being denied the option of studying arts subjects.

‘High attainers may take up to 9 or 10 GCSEs, allowing room for arts subjects alongside the EBacc, but low attainers will only be entered for average of 6 or 7 restricting them to the narrow EBacc suite of subjects.

‘Creative and technical subjects can be especially valuable for the most disadvantaged children, not only because they may not have the cultural access their more affluent peers may enjoy, but because they offer an opportunity to gain confidence and learn valuable communication, team-building and leadership skills. These are precisely the skills which employers tell us they need and value, often above academic qualifications, to meet the demands of our 21st century digital global economy.

‘The NSN needs to make public the analysis behind these figures. The Joint Council on Qualifications’ longstanding data shows a fall of around 5,000 in entries to arts subjects between 2012 and 2016 and this has been accelerating as the EBacc takes root. At present just 40% are entered for EBacc and just 26% achieve it so these effects will only increase if the government pursues its 90% target. 

‘If the Government seriously believes that studying arts subjects correlates strongly with positive academic and labour market outcomes, then it need only modify the EBacc to include an opportunity for creative and technical subjects to enable the social mobility it claims it wants to deliver. ’

The Edge Foundation’s New Baccalaureate proposes to retain the important academic core, but create space in the curriculum for all young people to study technical and creative subjects that will give them the breadth of skills and knowledge they need for exciting jobs in our economy as technology develops. You can read more in our publication 14-19 Education: A New Baccalaurate.

We will continue to work with partners to encourage the government to broaden the EBacc and adopt our New Baccalaureate to give every young person the opportunity to reach their potential. We would love you to join us. Please show your support today by emailing us at newbacc@edge.co.uk or join in the conversation with the hashtag



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