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The Conservative party this week said it would make the subjects in the English Baccalaureate compulsory up to GCSE. The Labour party want to make English and maths compulsory to age 18. Both signal a political will for pupils to have a “broad entitlement” to certain subjects.

For schools, this can be a pain. Who has enough maths and English teachers to make this happen? What if students don’t want to do a foreign language?

And, more importantly, where is the entitlement to other things – to drama club, or helping others, or trips to a museum, or the opportunity to explore a question you’re interested in?

One of the saddest phrases I ever saw, though sadly I can’t remember where, said: “You might be the greatest ice sculptor in the world – but you’ll never know if you always live in the desert.”

If schools are not careful, and they solely focus on academic subjects, they can unwittingly become that desert.

Hence, some of the best minds across England have been discussing tentative steps towards a “National Baccalaureate” framework. Many of those people feature in this supplement.

They want a curriculum that is rigorous, and involves academic subjects, but also values many other things – arts, dance, volunteering your time, climbing mountains.

In these pages you’ll see ideas for how a better “Bacc” could therefore be built. Ideas include the principles on which change could happen plus thoughts on the subjects and activities that should be included. as well as ideas for how it could be funded.

But mostly, we hope this supplement inspires you to think about the opportunities your school offers. And to consider whether your children are likely to become the great ice sculptors that they could be.


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