Ofqual figures released: EBacc GCSE entries up as other subjects decline

Data published last week (24 May) by Ofqual shows entries in EBacc subjects increased by 4 per cent and entries in non-EBacc subjects dropped by 9 per cent this summer compared with 2018.

The number of entries into subjects that count towards the EBacc increased from 4,055,085 in 2018 to 4,206,765 this summer.

Ofqual said the figures show that schools are focusing more on EBacc subjects than those that do not count towards the performance measure.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and founder of the Bacc for the Future campaign said:

‘We are deeply concerned by the new Ofqual figures which show the number of pupils sitting GCSE exams in non-EBacc subjects, including music, has declined, while entries in EBacc subjects has risen. Following this, research commissioned by the Royal College of Music (reported on 27 May) revealed national inequality in access to A Level music education, which is a knock-on effect of a decline in the uptake of music at GCSE.

But we know that music is valued. Recent research by Ofsted showed that 68% of parents felt music was not covered enough by schools. And the latest report from the DCMS Select Committee revealed concerns about the downgrading of arts subjects in schools, with all the consequent implications for children’s development, wellbeing, experiences, careers and, ultimately, life chances. The Committee also called for the government to do more to ensure that schools are providing a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ and to respond to the 18 recommendations of the State of the Nation report, published by the APPG for Music Education and co-authored by the ISM and the University of Sussex.

As it stands, the EBacc policy is failing on its own terms – despite the Government’s EBacc uptake target of 75% (rising to 90% by 2025), the rate of take up has plateaued at 38% since 2014. There is also a gap between the national curriculum and what is actually being taught in schools in England - for example through the steady encroachment of the EBacc onto Key Stage 3, which puts music at further risk.

These recent Ofqual figures and the reports that followed demonstrate how music education is in crisis. The Government must act quickly to ensure music does not become the preserve of a privileged few, and that means reviewing the EBacc or dropping it altogether.’

The Bacc for the Future campaign is calling for supporters to write to their MP asking for the EBacc to be dropped.

About the Bacc for the Future campaign

Bacc for the Future is a campaign to save creative subjects in secondary schools across England. It is supported by more than 200 creative businesses, education bodies, and organisations as well as more than 100,000 individuals.

Founded by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the UK’s professional body for musicians, it successfully fought against the original arts-excluding EBacc in 2013. Since 2015, it has been fighting against the new EBacc with the aim of saving creative subjects in secondary schools across England.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music education. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. We support almost 9,500 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. As well as working musicians, our membership also includes recent graduates, part-time and full-time music students, and retired musicians. We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.