Heads call for end to EBacc targets after Gibb's exit

The ASCL school leaders' union also appeals for GCSE reform and warns that students sit too many exams in summer term

Catherine Lough

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Headteachers have called for the government to end its English Baccalaureate targets and reform exams after the sudden departure of Nick Gibb as schools minister.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has urged the government to look at reforming GCSEs and drop its plans to overhaul the initial teacher training (ITT) sector, in reaction to the ongoing ministerial reshuffle.

Yesterday Mr Gibb left his role, having been a mainstay in education policy for nearly a decade.


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Gavin Williamson was also removed from his role as education secretary, with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi taking over.

The ASCL headteachers' union paid tribute to Mr Gibb's contribution but said that the government should now revisit some of the reforms that he was committed to.

Geoff Barton, general secretary, said: “We wish Nick Gibb well for the future and thank him for the constructive way in which he has engaged with us over the course of many years.  

“His views on education divide opinion, but there is no doubt about his deep sense of commitment to improving the life chances of children or his sense of certainty in terms of policy.

DfE reforms 'need revisiting' after Nick Gibb exit

“He has perhaps been a little too certain about some of the government’s reforms, however, which do need revisiting.

“Young people have to sit too many GCSE exams in the final summer of secondary school and the emphasis on school performance measures in traditional academic subjects has tended to marginalise technical and creative subjects.

“The government has to reduce the weight of end-of-course exams in GCSEs, explore the use of technology in assessment, ensure these qualifications work better for all young people and champion the arts and technical subjects.

“It can also now consign to history its unachievable target for take-up of the English Baccalaureate combination of subjects, and it must call a halt to its highly risky plans to overhaul teacher training in England.”

The EBacc is a set of academic subjects at GCSE, comprising English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language. The DfE set a target for 75 per cent of Year 10 students to be studying the subjcts needed for the EBacc by 2022, and for 90 per cent to be studying these subjects by 2025.

The ASCL has previously warned that this target is unachievable without getting more language teachers in the system.

Ofsted director describes Gibb as a 'legend'

Ofsted's director of corporate strategy Chris Jones reacted to the news of Mr Gibb's departure.

Posting on social media he said : "Incredibly sad to see Nick go. He's been a stalwart and advocate for schools in the DfE. And a friend to Ofsted. He's a legend."

Chris Jones, Ofsted's director of corporate strategy has described Nick Gibb as a 'legend'.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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