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Government EBacc consultation response – the 8 main points

Freddie Whittaker
July 19, 2017

The government has finally published its response to the consultation on the EBacc performance measure. Here are its main points…

1. EBacc targets revised to 75 per cent by 2022, 90 per cent by 2025

The government wants 75 per cent of year 10 pupils in state-funded mainstream schools to be starting EBacc GCSE courses nationally by 2022 (taking their exams in 2024), rising to 90 per cent by 2025 (taking their exams in 2027).

This means that the original ambition has actually been delayed by SEVEN years, as we report here.

2. Schools will choose which pupils to exempt from the EBacc

Ministers say schools will still be able to determine the “small minority of pupils for whom taking all of the EBacc subjects is not appropriate”. In doing so, they should “consider the overall impact that not entering the EBacc subjects will have on the options available to the pupil and their progression to post-16 education”.

3. Average EBacc point scores will be used to judge schools from 2018

From 2018, an average EBacc point score across the five pillars of the EBacc will replace the existing headline EBacc attainment measure in secondary school performance tables. This means there will be two EBacc headline measures in that year: EBacc entry and EBacc average point score.

4. Schools will see their average point scores for 2017

The DfE will share data with schools about their performance in 2017 under the EBacc average point score measure.

This is to help schools prepare but the data will not be published.

The DfE also intends to publish EBacc entry and attainment data for mainstream secondary schools with similar intakes, and a value added measure on EBacc entry, from 2019.

5. Ofsted to issue guidance on how inspection will reflect EBacc policy

The government says it intends the watchdog to issue a note to clarify how the inspection of provision at key stages 3 and 4 will reflect the government’s EBacc policy ahead of September 2018.

This will take into account the starting point of each school and the steps it has taken to respond to the EBacc policy. The government says no single measure, including EBacc entry and achievement rates, will determine the outcome of a school inspection.

6. UTCs, studio schools, special schools and AP will be exempt

The DfE intends to continue to publish the same performance data, including EBacc data, for all institutions included in the key stage 4 performance tables. However, pupils at UTCs, studio schools, FE colleges with key stage 4 provision, special schools and alternative provision will not be included in the 75 per cent or 90 per cent targets.

7. Officials will work with schools to help them to increase EBacc uptake

This will include supporting schools to “learn from those that have already increased participation and working with the sector to support the improvement of the teaching of languages”.

Specific plans to recruit additional high-quality teachers to priority EBacc subjects, particularly modern languages, are being developed.

8. Government claims EBacc still enables access to other subjects

Ministers have published evidence that they claim suggests that entries to arts subjects have not fallen as a result of the introduction of the EBacc.

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  • David Harbourne says:

    The government has published three documents: the consultation response, an equalities impact report and a paper on "Trends in arts subjects in schools where English Baccalaureate entry has increased". All three are riddled with intellectual dishonesty. Take this non sequitur, for example: "There is no evidence that entries to design and technology GCSE have fallen as a result of the EBacc, as they have been falling since 2008/9 before the EBacc was introduced". In other words, DfE wants us to believe there is *no connection* between the rise in EBacc entries and the decline in D&T. Seriously?? Then there's the paper that says arts entries haven't been negatively affected in schools where EBacc entries rose by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016. While EBacc subject entries rose, entries in other subjects must have fallen. The report completely fails to say which subjects have suffered. And another thing: hidden away at the end is this disclaimer: "School characteristics not associated with EBacc entry were not taken into account". I'm prepared to bet that schools which switched early have different pupil characteristics from schools that have yet to switch (on average). The biggest challenge to EBacc is, of course, modern foreign languages. Using provisional GCSE entry data, I estimate that if the 75% target had applied this year, around 138,000 students would have had to take a foreign language GCSE instead of something else. A lot of young people would have been denied the chance to study a subject they prefer.