A former Education Secretary’s criticism about the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) has been backed by Bradford Council’s ecucation spokesman.
Tory peer Lord Baker, who introduced the national curriculum and school league tables, accused current Education Secretary Michael Gove of making a “huge mistake” in his shake-up of English secondary school exams with the new (EBacc) system.
And he predicted the new EBacc would squeeze vocational subjects out of the curriculum, leaving schools with “a lot of disgruntled youngsters” who are not inspired by academic subjects.
The EBacc was introduced as a performance measure in 2010, recognising pupils who secure a C grade or better in five “core” GCSEs – English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language. From 2015, pupils will study for English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs), which will replace GCSEs in the core subjects.
Lord Baker said: “I think that’s a huge mistake. There will be a lot of disgruntled youngsters at 13 or 14 who are fed up with the English Baccalaureate because it’s not their cup of tea. A lot of youngsters aren’t turned on by it.”
Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children’s services, said the comments by Lord Baker should make Mr Gove sit up and take note and agreed the EBacc would stifle creativity and vocational education.
“I think a fuse has blown with Lord Baker and if I was Gove, I would be really worried if a really respected predecessor like that has a potshot at you,” Coun Berry said.
“This EBacc is like putting vocational education into a straight jacket.
“You need to do this through consensus, working with all those involved in delivering it, rather than finding a few mates with the same ideological hue as yours, like Michael Gove has done, and imposing it on people.
“I absolutely agree with Lord Baker and am uneasy with the reorganisation of the education system.”
Coun Berry said he also disagreed with Lord Baker’s proposals to delay the age at which children transfer from primary to secondary school from 11 to 14.
In response, a Department for Education spokesman, said: “The English Baccalaureate recognises achievement in the subjects which employers and universities value. Studying its full five subjects does not mean no other subjects can be studied.
“We also want young people to have the option of high-quality vocational education. That is why we are investing in university technical colleges, as championed by Lord Baker, and studio schools, which offer practical education combined with work experience. We have already given the go ahead to 33 UTCs and 30 studio schools.
“We have announced a new Technical Baccalaureate which will recognise achievement in the best vocational qualifications.There are no plans to change the age at which secondary education begins.”