A survey of schools funded by the National Union of Teachers has found that the government’s English baccalaureate (EBacc) is hindering students, forcing them take subjects they do not enjoy and affecting their motivation and behaviour as a result. Researchers from King’s College London studied 1,800 teachers who blamed the EBacc for narrowing the field of subjects for GCSE examinations and for squeezing creative and vocational subjects out. The EBacc is a government-mandated set of GCSEs including English, maths, sciences, foreign languages, history and geography that was introduced in 2010. The Department for Education has said that it aims for 90% of pupils in England to qualify for the EBacc.

Teachers surveyed said that the focus on traditional, academic subjects was leading to fewer schools offering creative vocational alternatives, including music, drama and design and technology, and was reducing student choice. 84% of those surveyed said that vocational subjects were being offered less frequently, whilst similar numbers reported a fall in examination entry rates for creative subjects. Music teachers have seen excellent candidates for their courses actively discouraged from “more artistic” courses in favour of the EBacc. There has, however, been an increase of 59% in take-up of modern foreign languages, the subject having ceased to be compulsory under the previous Labour government.

The Department for Education has said that there is time for most pupils to study other “valuable subjects”. The researchers noted a correlation between schools categorised as “inadequate” or “requires improvement” based on Ofsted reports and their curriculum issues. Teachers also voiced concerns over a new accountability measure, progress 8, and with reformed GCSE examinations in English and maths. The researchers’ findings have been published just as Prof Alison Wolf, author of an influential review of vocational education, criticises the “dysfunctional” state of tertiary education in England, claiming perverse financial incentives could cost taxpayers billions of pounds in the future.


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    I'm Owen Barrett, a 31-year-old educational blogger and traveler. I enjoy writing about the places I've visited and sharing educational content about travel and culture. When I'm not writing or traveling, I like spending time with my family and friends.