8 February 2017
Commenting on the New Schools Network report The Two Cultures, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“15 months have passed since Nick Gibb launched a consultation on his proposal to extend the Ebacc to 90% of GCSE students. The consultation closed over a year ago, and the world of education is still waiting for the results. There is little doubt that these would show overwhelming opposition to Mr Gibbs’s proposals. It is surprising that rather than engaging with educational opinion, the Minister has thrown his weight behind the New School Network’s report, repeating assertions and producing alternative facts, when he should be acknowledging what teachers and head teachers are telling him.
“The overwhelming majority of teachers taking part in the NUT-commissioned research by Kings College London (1) said that the Ebacc has led to a narrowing of the Key Stage 4 curriculum offer in their schools. The survey showed that the EBacc, alongside other school accountability measures, in particular the double-weighting of English and Mathematics in the Progress 8 measure, is having a profound effect on the hierarchy of subjects within schools. Over three-quarters of the survey respondents reported that students had a reduced number of GCSE subjects to choose from in their school. Creative, vocational and technology subject teachers reported a decrease in examination entry rates, reduced resources and less time being allocated to their subjects. In the words of one art teacher, ‘Creative subjects are being sidelined and devalued’. Teachers of these subjects also reported experiencing increased job insecurity as a result of the reforms.
“A major concern of teachers is that, with the narrowing of the curriculum, students are increasingly being forced to take subjects which they are not motivated to study and do not enjoy. This is impacting on students’ behaviour and engagement. This is a situation which ministers would do well to attend to, rather than brush under the carpet.”
(1) KCL’s report was published on 14 November 2016 and is available here.