Joint union survey finds EBacc limits subject choice

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Following on from yesterdays update from the campaign fighting the English Baccalaureate, here is some more compelling evidence from Music Teacher Magazine highlighting why the fight is so important!

A survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and National Union of Teachers (NUT) has found that the EBacc is limiting subject choice.

The two unions polled 1,200 members in March, including teachers, support staff and head teachers, with the results suggesting that pupils’ options are being narrowed across the secondary curriculum.

The survey found that pressure on school budgets has meant that teaching posts in some subjects were being cut, with those outside the EBacc the most at risk. Of secondary school staff, 61% reported cuts to non-EBacc subjects, compared with 38% seeing cuts to EBacc subjects.

Of secondary respondents, 60% said their school had cut the range of non-EBacc subjects compared with the last academic year, and 64% said there were fewer vocational options at their school.

Although the Department for Education says funding is at record levels, 93% of respondents said they were pessimistic about their school’s funding over the next three years.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: ‘The government needs to sit up and listen. Schools are already struggling to make ends meet and children are already losing out.

‘Unless the government finds more money for schools and fast, today’s school children will have severely limited choices at school and children from poorer families will be even further disadvantaged because their parents may struggle to provide the resources schools can no longer afford.’

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of NUT, said: ‘Children deserve and need an education system that supports their learning and provides a rich and varied curriculum but schools are struggling to provide this with their current funding. When the government’s real terms cuts take effect schools will simply be running on empty.’

Deborah Annetts, founder of the Bacc for the Future campaign and chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said the campaign welcomed the new research.

‘The news that the EBacc is putting access to creative, technical and artistic subjects at risk is deeply concerning.

‘There has been an 8% drop in uptake of creative GCSEs in 2016 – the largest year-on-year decline in a decade – and the percentage of pupils taking at least one arts subject has dropped for the first time since 2012. The creative industries feature prominently in the government’s industrial strategy and are continuing to grow, contributing £87 billion a year to the UK economy.

‘We urge the Secretary of State to drop the EBacc in its current form either by reforming it or scrapping it altogether before any more damage is done.’

The NUT and ATL last month voted to merge to form the National Education Union, which will start working on 1 September.

www.baccforthefuture.com