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Bac backs history but makes a martyr of RE

Last week's TES ("AWOL exam", January 14) reported that the Government had put a non-existent GCSE in its English Baccalaureate. The Department for Education's response to the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference's discovery is risible.

While it is true that "some pupils take GCSEs in a single year", page 31 of OCR's ancient history specification says that "GCSE certification is available from June 2011".

OCR's own published results show that not a single pupil sat or obtained this qualification last summer. In contrast, some 4,463 candidates (3,564 with OCR and 899 with AQA) were awarded GCSEs in classical civilisation. Not one of these was eligible for the EBac.

Such a lack of attention to detail by DfE officials ought to worry ministers. They, in turn, ought to be concerned by the almost universally critical response of teachers and headteachers to the EBac in its current form. If ever there was a case for going "Bac" to the drawing board, this is it.

Geoff Lucas, General secretary, Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

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