Kalinski1970's Blog

My own personal view on UK Education and bits n bobs

additional clarification on the madness of ‘king Gove’s English Baccalaureate

14 Comments

The reason that some people have had difficulty understanding how the english bacc involving 5 subjects can stop a student from studying others, is that they don’t fully comprehend the statutory curriculum requirement.

So if you take my school’s model for time in KS4 it works out like this:

English – 4hrs (to deliver language and literature) compulsory

Maths – 3hrs compulsory

Science – 4hrs (Double) compulsory

RE – 2hrs compulsory

PE – 3hrs compulsory

Option 1 – 3hrs

Option 2 – 3hrs

Option 3 – 3hrs

So an academic student could pick one subject from each block just an example, from the following option blocks

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3
Art Drama Art
Geography Business Studies Music
ICT French Business Studies
History Spanish PE
Music Media Sociology
Photography Geography Psychology
PE Health & Social Care Law
Sociology Photography Economics
Triple Science Statistics Media

Subjects appear in more than one block due to historical popularity and a school’s specialisms.

If you now add the English Bacc and the league table pressure the curriculum for your academic stream would now start to look like this:

English – 4hrs (to deliver language and literature) compulsory

Maths – 3hrs compulsory

Science – 4hrs (Double) compulsory

RE – 2hrs compulsory

PE – 3hrs compulsory

Option 1 – 3hrs

Option 2 – 3hrs

Option 3 – 3hrs

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3
History French Art
Geography Spanish Geography
ICT
History
Music
Photography
PE
Sociology
Triple Science
Drama
Business Studies
Media
Statistics

We couldn’t offer that many options in one block as you could have class sizes that would be not be economically viable.

So:

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3
History French Art
Geography Spanish Geography
History
Music
Photography
PE
Sociology
Triple Science
Drama
Business Studies
Media
Statistics

I hope that this now explains how the Eng Bacc will leave bright students with only one choice at their options.

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Author: kalinski1970

Headteacher at a school in rural East Sussex! Trust me the problems are real and difficult. Married to an amazing woman with two wonderful children (sometimes...)

14 thoughts on “additional clarification on the madness of ‘king Gove’s English Baccalaureate

  1. Why does your school have 2 hours of RE and 3 hours of PE and 3 hours for the third option? This seems more than most schools.

    Even without that, those choices are not unreasonable for the *academic* stream.

    • We deliver short course RE and Citizenship…we also have a strong sports heritage. That probably explains it! I have no actual issue with introducing something like the Middle Years International Bacc, academic, breath of offer etc. Gove just seems to want to reintroduce the curriculum he followed

      • Do you understand that your post complaining about the lack of choice for students (which seems to have been widely tweeted about) implied that the lack of choice was the result of the English Bacc alone, rather than mainly the result of the school’s choices on sports, RE and number of lessons per GCSE?

      • Er do you understand the meaning of statutory and therefore compulsory. I know the best balance for students in my school, i thought the plan was to let schools, rather than distant bureaucrats, make the best decisions for their students. However, i always welcome other models so please send me your version, but please remember there is 25 hours of curriculum time in a week (two years of consultations to change that), i actually believe that English Literature is important, RE and PE are statutory and therefore have to be taught.

  2. The point is that the compulsory subjects don’t (by law) have to be taught for that many hours.

    • Another Govean attack on PE suggested then? Less time for English, although they deliver two GCSEs? Less time for Science? I am.interested in seeing your suggested model for my school. You can also read the ASCL response which represents Headteachets to see that this isn’t just my school

  3. Most schools I’ve worked in have had two hours of PE in KS4 (except for students doing GCSE PE), one hour of RE and at least some GCSEs were taught in two, not three, hours a week.

    As I said, your school’s choice to spend more time on RE, PE and at least 3 hours per GCSE seems to be the reason for your lack of choice.

    As I also said, even then the lack of choice doesn’t seem that severe. It applies only to the academic stream and seems no worse than that in many schools already. For a lot of schools the lack of incentive to make all students do hours of vocational ICT will actually increase choice.

    • Yes, recommended PE is 3, we deliver RE & Citizenship, but the humanities choices are still too narrow look at the middle years international bacc. Biblical Hebrew? They are not trying to create forward facing curriculum, bit one that matches their own.

  4. I don’t understand how this choice could only apply to an ‘academic stream’? All students will be required to make these choices so that the school (and they) have the best chance of getting the EBacc which – let’s face it – once it begins will become another ‘selector’ for universities.
    Secondly, it isn’t feasible for some schools to stream. My school has a high level of students with english as a second language, and a large turnover of students. It is very difficult to ascertain initially what academic level students are because their low english ability gets in the way. If we put students into a ‘low stream’ they would not develop their language as quickly and their academic understanding goes backwards because they are not being adequately challenged. In our case it is therefore important that we have mixed ability curriculum pathways supporting learners as they develop.

    • It has to apply to the top end as educationally damaging to any others. We have a foundation tier that ensures achievement and progression. All schools will have to make tough decisions, but it won’t change the fact the 15% of comprehensive that do this already is the same ability range as grammars. This part is a deliberate tactic to mislead

    • We also have mixed ability in all but maths. It is difficult, and for many schools that have made significant progress with all levels of students it will be terrible. We can’t just accept it, have to fight it for the best of the students.

  5. I came across your blog while searching for information about the EBacc and whether schools can make it compulsory. My son has high functioning autism and has done really well at high school but he came home today very upset about having to drop a subject that he really enjoys, is doing well in and is relevant to what he wants to do. If you would like to read about this issue from a parents/childs point of view , please feel free to read my blog post written today http://lifekidsandgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/03/schoolget-ready-for-fight.html. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  6. since i wrote this we made the following changes to the curriculum.

    RE 1 hr (reduced by an hour)
    PE 2 hrs (reduced by an hour)
    Options choices from 1 to 2, but time reduced to 2.5 hours per week on a two week timetable

    This allowed students who were selecting Ebacc to pick triple science and have one final option to encourage them to take a creative art (we had a performing arts specialism and many parents picked the school because of that). The only complaints we had from parents was those in the Ebacc pathway and we allowed them to pick a different option. Thus ensuring a reduced chance of ebacc performance but to suit a personalised curriculum that we believe strongly in.

  7. Pingback: Consultation on Implementing the English Baccalaureate – HTRT Response | Headteachers' Roundtable

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