NAHT comment on Conservative party election promise to urge all state schools to enrol all pupils for GCSEs in English, maths, two sciences, a language and either history or geography

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 It is right that every student should have the opportunity to take the suite of EBacc subjects but it is not right that every student should be forced to take it, according to school leaders’ union NAHT, commenting today.( 31 August 2014)


Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT said: “For many students a strong academic curriculum is the best start in life and it is right therefore that none should be prevented from this course of study by their school.

However, this is a far cry from requiring every school to ensure every student studies the full EBacc. This is a significant reduction in school autonomy and curriculum freedom. 

"Two things in particular worry us about this manifesto pledge. It fails to recognise the new Progress8 measure of school performance. Whilst Progress8 is a clear incentive to the take up of EBacc subjects, it still allows some discretion and flexibility for children, parents and teachers. This was a measure that commanded wide consent but is being superseded before it has begun. This would be a huge waste. 

"Switching the focus to only five EBacc subjects at this moment in time also continues the disturbing trend of using Ofsted as an enforcement arm of the government.

“It seems there will be strong restrictions on the grading of schools that leave no room for the judgement of inspectors about whether a school has made the right choice for the students it serves.  The Secretary of State has already made that judgement for them, without the inconvenience of an actual inspection.

“The Secretary of State believes that the five EBacc subjects are what universities most value for their applicants but university is not always the desired destination for our young people. Many will be better suited to qualifications that equip them for more vocational routes. It could also be argued that reducing the number of EBacc subjects could also harm a school’s ability to offer impartial careers advice.”

Progress8 assessment was announced by the Schools Minister David Laws in October last year and should come into effect from 2016. Reducing the number of subjects that count towards league tables from eight to five could make it harder for children to choose the right subjects for their needs.


Mr Hobby added: “We have a concern that Mrs Morgan’s announcement in the press today doesn’t allow enough time for anyone to see whether Progress8 is a good way to measure how well schools are teaching. It could be seen as another change without any evidence for a need, which is something everyone involved in education thought would stop after the departure of Michael Gove.


“We support any measure that improves the outcomes at school for our young people and the opportunity for rigorous academic study but we should build on the policies in place rather than plan dramatic changes.”

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