Majority of school leaders would risk lower Ofsted ratings by not offering EBacc to all pupils

Majority of school leaders would risk lower Ofsted ratings by not offering EBacc to all pupils

A survey of school leaders and teachers has shown they would not make the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) compulsory for all pupils and sacrifice an outstanding Ofsted rating.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan confirmed yesterday all pupils will be required to study English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography to GCSE level for the EBacc.

In a survey conducted by the Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT) of more than 1,300 headteachers and teachers, only 15 per cent of respondents said they would make the EBacc compulsory for all if that was a requirement for an outstanding judgement from Ofsted.

Under the proposals, a school will not be able to receive an outstanding rating from Ofsted if it does not teach the EBacc to all pupils. The SSAT survey also showed 45 per cent of surveyed schools currently with such a rating would be prepared to lose their outstanding status.

Bill Watkin, director at 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.”

School leaders were also concerned the compulsory EBacc would require them to drop other subject options, with arts, technology and vocational subjects the most likely to be withdrawn.

Respondents felt the policy would “set up to fail” certain children – low attainers and those who had newly arrived to the country – and such pupils would be disadvantaged by being “forced” down a purely academic route.

Stephen Tierney, an executive headteacher of a multi-academy trust in the north-west of England said: “If the EBacc is fully implemented the arts will be damaged, it’s inevitable and politicians need to be honest about this.

“The impact of additional time for GCSE maths, English and English literature, in many schools, has reduced the number of option choices for pupils already, and the requirement for the full EBacc will reduce it further. The arts will be squeezed, let’s not pretend otherwise.”