90 per cent EBacc enrolment pledge not a climb-down, government claims

The government’s new pledge that 90 per cent of pupils will study the full slate of EBacc subjects is not a climb-down on previous aims, it has been claimed.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan will announce tomorrow that the government’s aim is to see 9 in 10 pupils complete the EBacc at GCSE, which is made up of maths, English, science, a foreign language and either history or geography.

She will also confirm plans for the proportion of pupils entering and achieving the EBacc to “become a headline measure used to hold schools to account through Ofsted”.

But a Conservative source said the target was not a watered-down approach compared to previously-voiced hopes that all pupils would take the subjects, and insisted it was based on the exemption of pupils with special educational needs and those studying at more vocational institutions like University Technical Colleges.

Although the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto did not state that 100 per cent of pupils would need to study the EBacc subjects, it said it would “require secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography, with Ofsted unable to award its highest ratings to schools that refuse to teach these core subjects”.

Government figures show that the proportion of young people studying all the EBacc subjects has risen from 22 per cent in 2010 to 39 per cent this year.

In her speech, Ms Morgan will announce a consultation on how the 90 per cent target can be reached.

She has previously said that although there may be a “small group of pupils” for whom the EBacc won’t be appropriate, the government’s goal is for “pupils starting year 7 this September to study the EBacc subjects when they reach their GCSEs”.

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