At the beginning of the month, the Guardian reported on the impact of the English baccalaureate (Ebacc), the government’s new accountability measure, on schools and non-Ebacc subjects. It found that schools have had to drop subjects, including Engineering, Spanish and Music, due to pressure to raise their Ebacc scores.
Since the new scoring system focuses on specific core subjects, the school leaders and parents who spoke to the Guardian argued that subject cuts are the result of a lack of students in non-Ebacc classes. However, they recognised the root cause of the issue is a lack of sufficient funding.
One school in Northumberland cut vocational qualifications in both Engineering and Health and Social Care due to a lack of funding, much to the disappointment of headteacher Kieran McGrane. He said:
“It’s frustrating because we only introduced Engineering four or five years ago when I started at the school. We felt there was a gap not only for students going to university but particularly for those looking to go into apprenticeships at the age of 16 or 18.”
Mike Parkinson-Brown, a senior buyer, talked to BESA’s Resource Our Schools campaign about the consequences of such funding cuts in non-Ebacc subjects:
“Children are our future teachers, engineers, designers, architects and even politicians. To underfund schools is to underfund the entire nation of the future.”
Yet the lack of funding is preventing young people from taking subjects that they would need for their careers, such as Engineering and Music.
Secondary School Principal Kenny Duncan said to the Guardian: “When pupils make their choices in year 9 now, there’s no longer an option for music. There’s no drama, no performing arts. If pupils want to go on to university to do those subjects they have to move schools.”
Music and other performing arts are vital subjects to a wide and varied education system. Phillip Viveash, a former director of music, told Tes: “Music needs time, it needs support, it needs flexibility, it needs money. It needs to be valued and it needs to be protected and fought for.”
Non-Ebacc subjects can be resource heavy, often demanding more resources than core subjects such as English and Maths. One aim of the Resource Our Schools campaign is to ensure that all subjects are fully funded, as children’s outcomes should not be impacted by the lack of resources in schools.
In a country renowned the world over for its education system, every child should have access to the quality and diverse education they need and deserve.
To sign the Resource Our Schools statement, click here.