Schools have achieved high EBacc entry rates by using “more creative ways” to teach non-EBacc subjects, such as after-school sessions, in tutor time, or cramming them into “intensive” days.
Research commissioned by the Department for Education found schools entering more than 80 per cent of pupils into the EBacc had mostly done so by making it compulsory, or “strongly encouraging” pupils to take those subjects.
However the study, by ASK research, found to “balance competing demands on time”, schools used several options such as extending the school day to incorporate longer lesson times and more time for EBacc subjects.
Another option taken up by schools was to allocate less curriculum time for non-EBacc subjects by teaching them for a term at a time, or offering them through enrichment or after-school sessions.
The research also found schools were offering compulsory RE, PE and personal, social and health education in “more creative ways”, such as in extra-curricular activities, during tutor time or on “intensive” days, or within other subjects.
The study, commissioned in December 2017, was part of a summary of recent small-scale research project, which was only published by the government in March this year.
The information collected through the research is being used to inform support strategies to help schools deliver the EBacc subjects.
The government ambition for the EBacc is to have three-quarters of year 10 pupils studying eligible GCSE subjects by 2022, rising to 90 per cent by 2025.
But the numbers of pupils taking the EBacc has stalled. Just 38.4 per cent of pupils entered the EBacc in 2018, compared to 38.1 per cent in 2017. This is also fewer than the peak of 39.7 per cent in 2016.
Ministers have also had to continually deny that the EBacc performance measure is driving subjects, such as those in the arts, out of schools.