|Education Secretary Michael Gove|
Education secretary Michael Gove issued a statement this afternoon in which he said the proposal to move towards the EBacc was “a bridge too far”. The EBacc would initially have replaced key subjects such as English, maths and science, with a view to more subjects being added further down the line and the eventual scrapping of GCSEs altogether.
Critics of the proposals included teachers’ unions and Ofqual, who believed the changes represented too much of a change while other reforms were underway, and there were also concerns that Mr Gove’s proposal to have just one examinations board for each subject would fall foul of European Union anti-monopoly rules. The shelving of the radical reforms may have been finally cemented last week, when the Commons Education Select Committee urged the government to rethink its proposals.
Mr Gove says that changes to GCSEs to make them more rigorous will still go ahead, with less of an emphasis being placed on coursework, exams taking place at the end of the two-year period and fewer opportunities for resits.
NEC’s chief executive Ros Morpeth said: “When the English Baccalaureate was announced I immediately had concerns that the proposals would lead to the narrowing of the curriculum, and undermine the value of the GCSE subjects falling outside of the Baccalaureate.
“I feel the government’s plans neglected the needs of the adult learner. When people learn with us they’re often taking two or three GCSEs or IGCSEs so they can move into teaching, for example, or midwifery; these students' needs would not be met by the new EBacc.
“NEC’s ethos is to open up access to education, and I feel the English Baccalaureate risked doing the exact opposite by restricting emphasis to a handful of core subjects.
“I hope the government now takes steps to restore public confidence in the GCSE qualification, which was in itself a step forward from the divisive two-tier O level and CSE system of old. If the plans to make them more rigorous by reducing the importance of coursework and the number of resits available go some way towards doing this, then they have my full support.”