As covered in Schools Week last Friday, the Department for Education (DfE) has recently published the results of research exploring the methods used by schools that had increased their Ebacc entry rates. As well as interviews with six schools with low Ebacc entry levels at GCSE, the study drew upon interviews with 30 Ofsted 'good' or 'outstanding' schools who, between 2011 and 2017, had increased their Ebacc entry rate at GCSE by 40%.
Overall, the study demonstrated that all schools with high Ebacc entry rates were either making Ebacc compulsory for all or at least some pupils at GCSE, or were strongly encouraging pupils to take Ebacc subjects. In some cases, the research found that some schools with high Ebacc rates were narrowing their curriculum offer and/or teaching compulsory non-Ebacc subjects (such as religious education, physical education or personal, social and health education) during “tutor time” or through “intensive days”. In some cases, Ebacc subjects were also being taught after school or in extended lessons.
While the full range of EBacc subjects should form a key part of a school’s curriculum offer, this study reaffirms concerns about making the Ebacc compulsory as it has the potential to steer all pupils down one educational pathway when another may be more appropriate to their needs.