NAHT criticises EBacc’s ‘narrow vision of academic excellence’

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has criticised the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), claiming it offers a ‘narrow vision of academic excellence’.

Speaking before a House of Lords debate on how children will receive a balanced and rounded education in schools, Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, questioned the introduction of the EBacc, claiming that it was set to replace the new Progress 8 measure before it has even properly begun.

Progress 8 is a new measure of school performance which will take into account the progress a pupil makes from the start of secondary school to the end of their GCSEs. The aim of Progress 8 is to replace the percentage of pupils gaining five good GCSEs as the headline measure of school accountability, instead judging schools on ‘value added’ through the duration of a pupils time there.

Hobby praised Progress 8 as delivering ‘the right balance between academic rigour and breadth’ and expressed fears that it will be superseded by EBacc results and entries.

According to Hobby, the EBacc, which requires pupils to study English, maths, the sciences, a language and a humanity up to GCSE, pushes other demanding and useful qualifications to the sidelines.

Hobby added: “The subjects which count towards the EBacc are not the only ones which are rigorous or useful preparation for later life; religious studies and music are both examples of demanding and useful qualifications. Given the pressures created by the EBacc, there will be precious little time left for subjects outside the core.

“The EBacc is also a further restriction on school autonomy and another attempt to manage the education system through exam reforms and league tables, rather than investing in the resources that truly make a difference.

“Progress 8 has not even been given a chance to work before more changes are proposed - creating further turmoil in secondary education. Pupils, parents, teachers and school leaders deserve better planning.”

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