'Resist, ignore, reject': rebel heads in call to arms on EBac

11th February 2011 at 00:00
School leader claims backing of 'whole educational establishment' for alternative

Heads angry at the Government's sudden introduction of the English Baccalaureate are rebelling and developing their own alternatives, it emerged this week.

Incensed that the Government has specified the teaching of particular academic subjects, they say secondaries should "resist", "ignore" and "reject" the English Baccalaureate (EBac).

The EBac requires at least C-grade GCSEs or IGCSEs in English, two sciences, maths, history or geography and a language, and was only achieved by 15.6 per cent of pupils last year.

At least 30 schools have already expressed an interest in an alternative Baccalaureate being developed by Andrew Chubb, head of Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, where just 1 per cent of pupils gained an EBac. Mr Chubb says he also has the backing of "pretty much the whole educational establishment" for his proposal, which incorporates vocational options.

"I believe the EBac has the capacity to become an educational 'Berlin Wall' dividing our students into those seen as 'academic' and those who are not," he said.

"Headteachers need to unite on this, take a stand and say, 'That is wrong; no further'."

Mr Chubb's proposed Bac would allow "vocational" Btec and OCR National qualifications alongside GCSEs, include ICT as a core subject, and enable pupils to focus on areas such as business or the arts.

This week, leaders of the two heads' unions said anger among their members was about more than the retrospective inclusion of the EBac in January's league tables.

"Feelings are running very high," said ATL general secretary Brian Lightman. "There is a serious contradiction between promising more freedom to schools and then prescribing - albeit through performance tables - exactly the type of curriculum they should be implementing."

Peter Campling, head of Deptford Green School in London, where just 5 per cent of pupils achieved the EBac, called for the profession to back an alternative.

"My suggestion is we ignore it (the EBac). We reject it. We refuse to dance to this ridiculous tune. We should resist and develop a genuinely progressive, 21st century alternative."

A Department for Education spokesman said the English Baccalaureate was "just one measure of attainment".

"It is ultimately up to heads to decide which subjects they offer ... We welcome any move by heads to support students' achievement in a broad range of subjects."

PARLIAMENT - Burnham: 'dead languages' fury

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham has criticised the EBac - which can include biblical Hebrew and classical Greek - for placing "dead languages" above other subjects.

"Many feel it is not a fair way to judge all children and all schools, suggesting some are second best," he said. "Are you really saying to young people and employers today that dead languages are more important than business studies, engineering, ICT, music and RE?"

But education secretary Michael Gove said working class children had the right to learn a language.

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