The Education Secretary has defended his EBacc proposals in the Commons as concerns are raised across parties.

Michael Gove

offtoriorob via wikicommons

Education Secretary Michael Gove has been defending his view on the English Baccalaurate (EBacc) in a House of Commons debate on the basis that “what was an academic education limited to a narrow elite in the 1950s is now being extended to more and more children.” He accused the Labour benches of having a “snobbish attitude” and falling into a “unique historic trap… by endorsing the idea that English, maths, science and modern foreign languages should somehow be denied to young people”.  In relation to the exclusion of the arts from the proposed curriculum, he said: “The assault on the subjects in the English Baccalaureate betrays the most narrow of mindsets, whereby the only things that are creative are those which fall within a particularly narrow spectrum.” But concerns about the Government’s exclusion of arts from their EBacc education reforms were expressed last week across the both Houses and by both Conservative and Labour politicians. Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg said the plans would undermine the country’s economic position, while Graham Stuart, Chair of the Select Committee for education, urged the Government not to rush forward with their EBacc plans: “The Secretary of State told the Select Committee that ‘coherence comes at the end of the process.’ Well, I think coherence comes at the beginning of the process.”  In the Lords, Labour Peer Baroness Hughes said the plans had only succeeded in bonding together people across the arts, sport, business, and faith organisations to ask why relevant subjects hadn’t been included in the reforms. The campaign Bacc for the Future, co-ordinated by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, was praised by Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones for bringing strong voices together in the arts sector in opposition to the plans as they currently stand. 


Baroness Hughes buried the ball firmly in the bacc of her own net when she said that the government's plans 'had only succeeded in bonding together people across the arts, sport, business, and faith organisations to ask why relevant subjects hadn’t been included in the reforms'. History [a permissible option within one of the existing five pillars of the Ebacc . . .] shows time and again that the more unlikely the alliance, and the more decisively it achieves its objective, the sooner and the more acrimoniously it will fall apart afterwards: 1945 and all that. Suppose that Gove were to reserve one-sixth of the Ebacc as a ring-fenced (how the arts lobbyists simply love that word!) level playing-field where all members of the Sixth Pillar Alliance could compete against each other: what chance for music or drama, competing with the massed ranks (and industrial backing) of the CDT/ICT lobby, holding out the tempting prospect of immediately employable skills across a wide spectrum of careers?

I reproduce this from the Mirror: Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the UK’s professional body for musicians, said: “As they stand, these proposals will undermine our world leading education system and our world leading creative industries. “The creative sector wants the Government to slow down and think carefully about the way forward. "Whether it is called a GCSE or EBC, we need to ensure that there is one type of qualification, and not a two tier system which treats creative subjects as second class. Would Deborah Annetts please explain and expand her views? How would a 'two tier system' treat creative subjects as "second class"?