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)

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.

GCSE results 2016

25 Aug

Statement on GCSE Results.
Voice: the union for education professionals has commented on the GCSE results published today (25 August 2016).
Director of Policy and Research Ian Toone said:

“Voice congratulates GCSE students and their teachers, whose hard work, dedication and commitment has enabled them to achieve today’s results.  For many young people, GCSE grades are critically significant to their future study, employment and life chances.  They are also important for individual teachers and school leaders, whose professional standing and career progression may depend on their students’ achievements.  Schools and colleges will be judged on their position in performance league tables and may find themselves, accordingly, praised or pilloried.

“Congratulations are also due to the many mature students who have returned to study, often juggling attendance at college and learning at home with work and other commitments in order to advance their own personal development and further their careers and life goals.

“This year’s results mark the end of an era for GCSE, at least in England, as this is the last time that all GCSEs will receive A*-G grades.  From next year, GCSEs in English and mathematics will be awarded on a new 9-1 numerical grading system, with other GCSEs following suit over the following two years so that, by 2019, all GCSEs in England will have transferred from alphabetical to numerical grades.

“Wales and Northern Ireland are both committed to continuing with the A*-G grading system.  Now that England is being forced to go in a different direction, it is inevitable that the integrity of the GCSE brand will be severely compromised, leaving students, parents, employers and university admissions tutors struggling to make sense of what a GCSE taken in England is worth compared with one taken in Wales or Northern Ireland.

“This is complicated by the fact that English awarding bodies have historically marketed their GCSEs in Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in England.  For example, schools in Northern Ireland typically make 25% of GCSE entries through English awarding bodies.  In order to continue this arrangement, awarding bodies in England would have to operate a dual grading system.  AQA and OCR have already indicated that they will not do this.  It is disappointing to see that commercial interests and Government interference are taking precedence over the needs of our young people and, in the process, destroying GCSE as we know it.

“Political interference is also apparent in today’s GCSE results, with the high stakes nature of some performance measures (EBacc, Progress 8, Attainment 8, ‘first entry counts’, and post-16 students being required to continue with English and maths until they achieve at least a grade C) affecting entry patterns and exerting a significant impact on outcomes.

“It is clear from today’s statistics that fewer 15 year olds are being entered for GCSEs, more 16 year olds are being entered for history and geography (these being key EBacc subjects) and far fewer candidates are sitting creative subjects, such as art, design and technology, drama, music and performing arts (which are excluded from the EBacc accountability measure).  In the longer term, this could have a devastating impact on the UK’s world-leading creative industries, as well as depriving pupils of a well-rounded education and an appreciation for the arts.

“It is sad to see a decline in GCSE grades at all levels.  Higher grade passes (grades A*-C) are down by 2.1% (from 69% last year to 66.9% this year), the highest grades (A*-A) are down by 0.7% (from 21.2% last year to 20.5% this year), and the overall pass rate (grades A*-G) is down by 0.2% (from 98.6% last year to 98.4% this year).  With students and teachers being pressured to work harder and harder against severe performance targets and politically motivated efforts to make GCSEs more demanding (in a paradoxical attempt to raise standards), it is not surprising that more young people and their teachers are reported to be suffering from stress-related illnesses and other mental health conditions.

“The current regime makes it very difficult for teachers to be creative and inspirational in their teaching or for students to pursue their interests.  The whole accountability system needs to be re-examined, with more autonomy being given back to the profession, retention of a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, parity between vocational and academic qualifications and an end to performance measures which constrain and narrow the subjects on offer to students.

“The kind of political interference observed within the education system over recent years belittles the enormous efforts being made by students and their teachers as they seek to reach and exceed ever more stringent standards.  We should not allow any of these ideological factors to detract from the genuine achievements shown in today’s results.”