Search results for 'EBacc'

EBacc: the Art-force Dodger?

21 Sep

An article in today’s TES, “The fourth R” asks:

“Reading, writing, arithmetic and art? A growing chorus is calling for the subject to have the same prominence as the traditional pillars of school curricula. The education system needs to embrace this argument, says Helen Ward.”

“It may sound like a case for ICT learning how to insert a jpeg or upload videos but only if you consider websites to be primarily text-based with supporting images. In fact, in the world of YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, web pages are overwhelmingly an assemblage of images. Learning to write effectively is not just about learning how to spell – it is about choosing which words will be most effective for your purpose. Similarly, being visually literate, able to choose and create images, is not about how to upload images – it is about what pictures to select and why.”

“Barbara Stafford, emeritus professor at the University of Chicago, US, foresaw these changes in her 1994 book Artful Science: enlightenment, entertainment and the eclipse of visual education. She argues that we are increasingly communicating in images, as we have done historically in text, but a high-level visual education to accompany these advances is lacking.

“We are entering an era of ‘oral visual culture’, as the dominance of text recedes. ‘No longer pre-literate, we are post-literate,’ Stafford says. But she points out that the educational system is ‘image illiterate’. And she calls for the change to be led by art teachers. ‘Those of us with knowledge about techniques for making and understanding images, their construction and cognitive role throughout history, had better speak up now or be content to vanish into disciplinary extinction,’ she says.

“At a time when the English educational system is rethinking the national curriculum, this could be the perfect moment to overhaul the way we think about art in school. It is important to note that no one is arguing for maths or English to be downgraded, but simply stating that communication is evolving faster than education.”

“There are, however, other reasons to take the subject more seriously. Indeed, no essay demanding greater prominence for art in education would be complete without running through the well-rehearsed arguments of how important the creative industries are to this country’s economic success. Creative industries now employ more than 2 million people in the UK and this is forecast to grow. Schools need to keep up, say the sector’s advocates.”

“Marketing. Could there be a better example of how art is infinitely more important as a subject than it used to be? Imagine a modern, successful, multimillion-pound, cross-platform marketing campaign, conceived or consumed by anyone image-illiterate. Impossible.”

“But last term, the National Curriculum Review published its first draft programmes of study for English, maths and science. Art and music, it stated, will remain part of the primary curriculum, but it is not clear what status they will have in the secondary curriculum.”

However, in his proposed reform of Key Stage 4 exams, Education Secretary Michael Gove refers to “new qualifications in the core subject areas of English, mathematics, the sciences, history, geography and languages English Baccalaureate Certificates Success in English, maths, the sciences, a humanities subject and a language will mean that the student has the full English Baccalaureate.”

In a previous Blog post and Voice’s press statement, Senior Professional Officer (Education) Ian Toone said:

“Mr Gove said that ‘the GCSE was conceived and designed for a different age and a different world’ but his proposed replacement for it is from a different age and a different world that of the 1940s and the school leaving certificate!

“Describing such a narrow range of subjects as a ‘Baccalaureate’ devalues … the important academic subjects that will be excluded such as religious education, music, computer studies, ART etc.  A good general education needs to be broad, balanced and relevant, rather than narrow, restrictive and harking back to a golden age that didn’t actually exist.”

Where does the EBacc leave Art? Do let us know your thoughts…

Cultural Education Review highlights danger of narrow EBacc (February 2012)

Cultural Education Review highlights danger of narrow EBacc

28 Feb

Much has been written on this Blog about the "narrow and pointless" English Baccalaureate (EBacc), including a poll on the issue.

We have warned about the exclusion of subjects like ICT, RE, drama and music from this much-vaunted measure of supposedly "vital" "core subjects."

Now an independent review of Cultural Education in England has raised concerns that cultural education in England is "patchy". It warns that there is concern about how much the coalition government values cultural education in schools and highlights how this has been partly caused by the introduction of the EBacc.

Commenting on his review, Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM, said:

"There is a good deal of concern expressed in much of the evidence that I have received during the course of undertaking this review about the extent to which the coalition government values cultural education in schools.

"The introduction of the English Baccalaureate is a significant contributory factor in causing these concerns."

Do you agree? Do let us know your thoughts

Poll: What do you think of the English Baccalaureate (EBac/EBacc)?

29 Jul

Do you agree with Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin that the English Baccalaureate is "narrow and pointless" or with the Commons Education Committee that it "should not have been introduced before the National Curriculum Review was completed", or with the DfE and Schools Minister Nick Gibb that “these academic subjects reflect the knowledge and skills young people need to progress to further study or to rewarding employment"?

Have your say on the EBac/Ebacc/E-Bac (opinions vary!) in our poll (right) and add your comments below

Poll result: What do you think of the English Baccalaureate (EBac/EBacc)? (29 July 24 August 2011)

  • It is useful and should continue in its present form: 13% (2 votes)
  • It should be revised to include more subjects that are currently excluded: 40% (6 votes)
  • It is pointless and should be abandoned: 47% (7 votes)

www.voicetheunion.org.uk/ebacc

Flawed logic of EBacc

8 Jul

Commenting on statistics showing outcomes for 19-year-olds in England in 2010, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

"These statistics underline the importance of studying the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate young people who achieve good grades in these subjects are more likely to go on to higher education and less likely to be NEET.

"Publishing information on EBacc attainment will increase the opportunities for all young people especially those in disadvantaged areas to study these vital subjects."

As with Michael Gove's recent speech on history and compulsory maths, the facts and statistics are being distorted, in the manner of a square peg into a round hole, in an attempt to support government propaganda.

"Publishing information on EBacc attainment will increase the opportunities "

How will publishing information whether those reading it are in "disadvantaged" or advantaged areas "increase opportunities"? Do 'Neets' "especially those in disadvantaged areas" eagerly await every batch of statistics from the Department for Education?

Aren't the "opportunities" already there? Couldn't these pupils study the Ebacc subjects if they wanted to?

As journalist Warwick Mansell points out: "Can you spot the flaw in Nick Gibb’s logic? Few people with EBacc subjects are NEET, therefore increasing EBacc take-up will decrease NEET."

Exactly. If pupils are persuaded to take up the EBacc "opportunities" they can't refuse, it could actually increase the number of Neets, not decrease them. If you take a subject for which you have no aptitude or inclination, and do badly in it, how will that increase your opportunities for further education or training?

As Warwick Mansell's Guardian article in January pointed out:

" the government's expectation that 'every pupil should have a broad education (the English baccalaureate)'". However, an "education department spokeswoman says: 'The EBac represents a core that we think all schools should be making available to their pupils. We do, however, recognise that the full range of EBacc will not be suitable for all pupils and that is why we have not made it compulsory. We recognise the wider benefits that studying other subjects and qualifications can bring and we will encourage all pupils to study non-English baccalaureate subjects alongside the core English baccalaureate in order to get a well-rounded education.'"

So is the English Bacc not "well-rounded" or is there a difference in the DfE's mind between "broad" and "well-rounded"?

Are these "vital subjects" or will "the full range of Ebacc" "not be suitable for all pupils"?

When the EBacc first came out, many university-educated journalists, educationalists and other commentators confessed that they would not have achieved the EBacc. Many pupils at the 'top' public schools so admired by ministers didn't achieve it either.

"English Baccalaureate subjects are: English, maths, geography or history, the sciences and a language."

The EBacc is an arbitrary target, as most pupils will find that their GCSE in ICT will be of more practical and economic use to them in the future than a GCSE in Ancient Greek, and yet it is the latter, rather than the former, which has been chosen for inclusion in the Bacc.

Students who would like to take Religious Education, English Literature or concentrate on a range of sciences, rather than a language, could also miss out on the Ebacc. Where does that leave the Doctors of Divinity or Science of the future?

Under the Education Act 2002 , the Secretary of State is required, in forming an opinion as to whether to implement any new project, to:

"have regard to the need for the curriculum for any school affected by the project to be a balanced and broadly based curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children and of society".

It is difficult to see how the EBacc meets this objective as it appears to be reducing a broad and balanced curriculum to five subjects, and ignoring RE and many other important subjects in the process.

Rather than trying to ram the narrow and pointless EBacc down the throats of reluctant students, the Government should look at how the whole assessment system could be transformed, with more teacher and ongoing assessment, a greater range and type of subjects on offer to inspire pupils and parity between the vocational and the academic.

Little has changed in education since 2001 #TheresaMay

12 Jul

In 2001, a certain Theresa May MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, addressed the PAT [now Voice] Annual Conference in Cardiff.

Her speech reveals how little has changed in education since then: teachers working excessive hours, performance-related pay, SATs, admissions….

Interestingly, some of Mrs May’s criticisms of the Labour Government’s education policies have been made by politicians, unions and practitioners about the current Conservative Government and its Coalition predecessor:

“..the Government’s obsession with targets in education, for SATs…are having an adverse effect on the quality of education…the relentless pursuit of better numbers fails to take account of …everyday realities..”

“Heads and teachers need to be free to respond to the needs of parents and children and not be hidebound by the latest government initiative or the latest bureaucratic whim.” 

“We desperately need to raise the morale of the teaching profession.

We have a real crisis of teacher shortagesDisillusioned teachers are leaving the profession in droves… 

“This is the crisis in teaching. We will never attract new teachers to stay in the profession until they know that once in the profession they will be able to get on with the job that they trained for. 

“We will not attract new recruits to a profession with a workload that leaves little time for friends or family. And we will never succeed in keeping good teachers in a profession where they are treated more as administrators than as professionals.”

“what sort of education do we as a nation want to provide…?”  

international comparisons

 “..for years governments have been intervening in the education system on the basis that the answer to any problem lay in greater prescription from the centre – and increasingly improvements have been in inverse proportion to the degree of interference..”

“children and young people are different – they have different levels of ability and different needs. This Government sees education as utilitarian with children increasingly being forced into a single mould. The Government’s obsession with numerical targets means their focus is on meeting the numbers regardless of the impact on children and young people…. 

“young people being pushed into continuing academic education while we are crying out for skilled craftspeople…” 

the academic and vocational are being mixed in a way that fails to recognise the value of either..” 

Education is not just about preparing young people for the world of work….”

Sound familiar?

Pre-Gove

There were also precursors of the Gove era of free schools and academies before Michael Gove – then a journalist and author – was even an MP:

“diversity and choice …allowing new schools to be set up even if there are already enough places in the area…a school can be taken over by other suppliers…we can learn from other countries … Charter Schools in the USA…”

Members

Many of the concerns and issue raised by members are also all too familiar, including teacher recruitment , the respective responsibilities of teachers and parents, excessive testing and constant change in education.

Geraldine Everett (pictured below with Theresa May), who was then the union’s incoming National Chairman and, coincidentally, is currently National Vice Chairman and will become Chairman again next year, told the conference:

The profession cannot and should not be held entirely responsible for the moral failure of society at large – it cannot and should not be expected to repair all the damage from the breakdown of family relationships, or the crime and corruption in our midst.

“It seems that the remit for teachers has developed exponentially as we have witnessed increasing violence, the decline in family values, the adverse role model influence from some areas of sport, the media and those in public life.”

“Teachers were caught up in a stream educational initiatives” and yet were expected to deliver academic and moral excellence.”

Motions debated at the Conference included many issues that are still current and problematic today:

Do let us know your thoughts…

TMay2001TMay2001-2