Schools Minister claims criticisms of EBacc ‘put to rest’

Today (9 February 2017), at the Music and Drama Education Expo, the Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP claimed that criticisms of the EBacc had been ‘put to rest’.

His comments followed the publication of a new report by the New Schools Network (NSN), a Department for Education-supported charity, claiming the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) policy does not undermine the arts in schools.

Focusing on the EBacc launched in 2011, the report states that the number of arts GCSEs being taken in 2015/16 was higher than in 2011/12, and names the EBacc as ‘just another measure in the school league tables.’

The data – what do we know?

We have long promoted the value of a creative, artistic and technical education to pupils and schools and we welcome the Minister’s contribution to this. We know the Minister would want to get this right, and it is important when considering the impact of the EBacc that we compare like for like, and really understand the full detrimental impact of this policy. The report from the NSN does not do this. The report omits to say:

  • For the first time since 2012 there has been a decline in percentage of pupils taking at least one arts subject (DfE’s own figures).[i]
  • From 2015-2016 there was an 8% decline in uptake of creative subjects (arts + D&T) the largest year on year decline in a decade.[ii]
  • Teacher numbers are declining faster in the arts, either by 10.67% (including D&T) or 8.42% (not including D&T), than overall (2.41%).[iii]
  • Teaching hours are declining faster in the arts, either by 10.03% (including D&T) or 8.02% (not including D&T), than overall (4.03%).[iv]
  • Music: Research by the University of Sussex into GCSE music highlights declining hours, fewer teachers and a negative impact on uptake of the EBacc for future years.
  • Art & Design: The findings of The NSEAD Survey Report 2015-16 show that 33-43% of art and design teachers across all four key stages have reported a fall in time allocated to the subject over the last five years and of these teachers, 93% cited the EBacc as reducing opportunities. [v]

The Bacc for the Future campaign urges the Schools Minister to pay heed to his own department’s data, which clearly shows the detrimental effect of the EBacc.

For more information, please contact [email protected] 07736 467577

Notes for editors

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, published a report with a Department for Education (DfE) supported charity called the New Schools Network on Wednesday 8 February.  The report endorsed the DfE’s EBacc policy and claimed that the EBacc policy does not undermine the arts in schools.

  • The report excludes design and technology despite this being a central component of the creative industries[vi] on the basis that they are treated separately in the National Curriculum entitlement areas. [vii]
  • The report excludes some qualifications without explanation. When you look at all qualifications, fewer pupils took arts subjects in 2016 compared to 2012[viii].  (The Wolf Review led to switch back to GCSEs. [ix])
  • The choice of years (comparing 2012 to 2016) is explained but not evidenced. It is as if the report picks the best years to justify its conclusion. The EBacc ‘has been reported on from the 2010 performance tables onwards.’[x]
  • The report describes the EBacc as ‘just another measure in the school league tables.’ This is not accurate. It is a headline measure (attainment) and it is proposed in the new consultation that it make up two (entry and attainment) of the five new headline accountability measures.
  • Whilst the paper argues that independent schools are not affected by league tables, publicly available league tables have been a significant factor in decision making at schools of all types. These figures have not been included.
  • The report is mostly talking about the wrong EBacc. The consultation is only mentioned a maximum of six times in the report, but it is this consultation that has galvanised the Bacc for the Future campaign to re-launch following its success in 2013 in halting an all but compulsory EBacc. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT is right that “we have not yet seen the full impact of this policy.”

Departmentfor Education, 13 October 2016

ii Cultual Learning Alliance, 25 August 2016

iii School workforce statistics, Department for Education

iv School workforce statistics, Department for Education

NSEAD SurveyReport 2015-16 Survey Report 2015-16

vi Creative industries economic estimates, DCMS, 26 January 2017

vii Extract from Extract from the National CurriculumNational Curriculum: “The arts (comprising art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts), design and technology, [and two other areas] are not compulsory … after the age of 14, but all pupils in maintained schools have a statutory entitlement to be able to study a subject in each of those 4 areas.”

viii Education Data Lab, 5:09pm, Wednesday 8 February 2017

ix Education Data Lab, 1:13pm, Wednesday 8 February 2017

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