Academies and the ‘English Baccalaureate’
The Coalition government, soon after coming into office, introduced a new qualification called the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc). This required pupils to gain a C grade or above in each of the following subjects:
Sciences (combined science, or 2 separate sciences)
History or Geography.
The declared intention was to ensure a broad curriculum for KS4, though many have pointed out that the selection is somewhat arbitrary. For example, the creative arts are excluded, and no credit is given for more practical or vocational studies.
Clearly, when this was introduced, it was too late for most schools to change subject choices for pupils who were embarking on KS4 (Sept 2009) and would take GCSEs in summer 2011. So the Ebacc statistics for 2011 generally reflect the different curriculum which schools had already become accustomed to. For selective schools, and comprehensive schools with intakes skewed towards high academic achievers, this range of subjects was perfectly standard.
Over the years, considerable official pressure has been put onto academies to maximize their GCSE “or equivalent” scores by any means possible. (See Research Note on Equivalents for a detailed explanation.) This enabled the government to claim that the academies were successful and improving faster than other schools. The damage done to the curriculum studied by pupils was apparently of no importance.
Unfortunately for academy supporters, one result of this narrowing down of curriculum and opting for easier ‘equivalent’ qualifications has been a very poor result for academies in terms of the Ebacc.
Among all schools nationally, 18% of pupils gained Ebacc, compared with 59% gaining 5A*-C with English and Maths or ‘equivalent’
Among all maintained schools, 16% of pupils gained Ebacc compared with 59%
Among academies, 8% of pupils gained Ebacc compared with 50%.
In other words, the ratios between Ebacc and 5A-Cs with English and Maths (or equivalent) were:
All schools: around 1 in 3
Maintained schools: around 1 in 4
Academies: around 1 in 6
However, the Ebacc results in academies were overwhelmingly gained by selective schools such as converted grammar or independent schools. Without these, the ratio is about 1 in 13. Leaving aside such selective schools, in 8 out of 10 academies 5% or fewer pupils gained the Ebacc. In a third, no one did.
Terry Wrigley (3 Feb 2011)
List of high-achieving, mainly selective predecessors
Haberdasher Askes Hatcham
Landau Forte College
William Hulme Grammar School
John Cabot CTC
Bristol Cathedral School
Colston’s Girls School
The Priory LSST
Brooke Weston CTC
The Ridings High School
Outwood Grange College of Technology
Birkenhead High School
Duke of York Military School
Brine Leas High School
Fallibroome High School
Watford Grammar School for Boys
Heckmondwike Grammar School
Tollbar Business Enterprise and Humanities College
Northampton School for Boys
George Spencer Academy and Technical College
Arthur Mellows Village College
Chadwell Heath Foundation School
Huish Episcopi School
Westcliff High School for Boys
Hartismere High School
Urmstone Grammar School