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13 July, 2011

English Baccalaureate is 'Napoleonic' and potentionally 'catastrophic', says Mark Chater

In a meeting held today by Andy Burnham MP, the Citizenship Foundation’s Mark Chater warned that the Government’s proposed 'English Baccalaureate' is in danger of harming some curriculum subjects.

Quoted by BBC News, he argued that it ‘lacked the breadth to be a genuine baccalaureate - and that prescribing subjects from the centre was against the grain of English education’.

‘It's not a baccalaureate and it's not English,’ he said.

Mark’s comments echo Democratic Life’s submission to the EBac Enquiry, which we contributed to.

In that submission we argue that currently the English Baccalaureate (or 'EBac') ‘fails to recognise the breadth and balance that define both the IB [International Baccalaureate] and the Welsh Bacc’. Incorporating GCSE Citizenship Studies would ensure the EBac recognises attainment in important areas.

The term ‘Baccalaureate’ is itself confusing: it is usually associated with qualifications, while the EBac is neither a qualification nor a qualification umbrella. Instead it is being used by the Government as an additional measure of attainment.

This direction for education is potentially exclusive as it only recognises a small range of subjects at GCSE level, and we believe it robs students of choice in a centralisation of power rarely seen since Napoleon.

This, we argue in our submission, could demotivate many students; it could lead to a hierarchy of subjects and many children feeling excluded or devalued.

We are also unhappy that the EBacc was announced before starting – let alone finishing – the National Curriculum review.

This raises questions about the relationship between the two. We hope the outcome of the curriculum review will not be prejudiced by the Government’s preferences for the subjects in the English Baccalaureate.


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