Seven in 10 schools prepared to rebel against government Ebac policy

Richard Vaughan

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More than 70 per cent of school leaders and teachers said they would refuse to make the English baccalaureate (Ebac) compulsory for all students, even if it meant missing out on being judged as outstanding by Ofsted, research shows.

A survey of more than 1,200 headteachers and teachers also found that 45 per cent of schools that currently hold the top rating from the inspectorate would be willing to lose the status in a stand against the new policy.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan confirmed yesterday that every secondary pupil would be expected to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a humanity and a modern foreign language.

But according to a poll conducted by the SSAT schools network, the vast majority of headteachers and their staff would not insist the Ebac was made compulsory in order to gain the "outstanding" badge.

Bill Watkin, director of the SSAT, said: “We and our members support the government’s attempts to close the gap and increase social mobility. However, there is a widely held view that personalised curriculum routes are needed, which reflect young people’s individual aptitudes and interests.”

Respondents were concerned that although “most pupils will benefit” – especially middle- and high-attainers – an EBac curriculum was not fit for purpose for some groups of pupils.

Just 15 per cent of respondents said they would be enforce the Ebac in a bid to secure Ofsted's top rating.

The policy commitment was set out in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, which also stated that a school could not be ranked as outstanding by Ofsted if it “refused” to offer students the Ebac subjects.

Ms Morgan hailed the move this week, describing it as a matter of “social justice”.

“This means ensuring that children study key subjects that provide them with the knowledge they need to reach their potential – while setting a higher bar at GCSE so young people, their parents and teachers can be sure that the grades they achieve will help them get on in life,” she said.

Students starting secondary school in September will be the first to sit the compulsory suite of subjects. 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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