Consultation on Implementing the English Baccalaureate – HTRT Response



At the Core Meeting held yesterday it was agreed to put a joint response into the consultation.  The following is that response.  If you are interested in joining us or in the work of the National Baccalaureate Trust please get in contact.

HTRT Response

If you indicated that you are a teacher, headteacher, school leader or governor, please indicate what type of school



Local authority maintained school x


Academy mainstream school or academy chain  


College, FE or HE institution


Special school x


Alternative provision or pupil referral unit  


University technical college


Studio school  


Other (please specify)


            Please Specify

We are a group of HTs with representation the full spread of structures and phases:

Pupils in scope

1   What factors do you consider should be taken into account in making decisions about which pupils should not be entered for the EBacc?


Whether the child want to complete a Ebacc curriculum.  Whether a Ebacc curriculum suits their skills and ambitions.  As a group we are concerned at the systematic destruction of vocational education in recent years and the pressures the Ebacc places on an appropriate curriculum for every child.

Accountability for meeting the EBacc commitment

2   Is there any other information that should be made available about schools’ performance in the EBacc?


The current proposal to have three different performance indicators linked to the Ebacc is excessive.  Rather than the one Ebacc Performance indicator currently published, which is exclusive in nature operating at the C/D or 4/5 grade boundary, the Ebacc would be much better defined as a progress score based on English, Mathematics plus three subjects from the Ebacc basket; in essence a Progress 5 Core Curriculum measure.

3 How should this policy apply to UTCs, studio schools and further education colleges teaching key stage 4 pupils?


It shouldn’t apply to any school.  If all schools are to be academies by 2020 then we are all meant to have autonomy with our curriculum.  The Ebacc is contrary to the funding agreement of a ‘board and balanced curriculum’.


4   What challenges have schools experienced in teacher recruitment to EBacc subjects?


Aside from the damage to the curriculum offered to students and the impact on their life chances there are very real concerns that there may well not be enough teachers to teach these EBacc subjects.  Retraining teachers to teach EBacc shortage subjects – Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Modern Foreign Languages – will require full time year long subject enhancement courses.  These do not currently exist and even if they did it may well be very few teachers from other subjects who would wish to develop the required depth of knowledge in an EBacc shortage subjects.  However, if the Department for Education wishes to pursue this implementation, in order to support those schools which decide or are feel forced to ensure 90% of pupils follow the EBacc, the Department should be willing to fully finance the training including paying the salary costs for the year or more long subject enhancement sabbatical required plus the advertising and appointment costs incurred by the school in replacing teachers.

5   What strategies have schools found useful in attracting and retaining staff in these subjects?


Again those in HTRT have been successful in retaining staff due to the approaches that keep teachers with you.  I.e. focus on CPD.  See comments above about recruiting.  The simple fact is with the increases of staffing cost, CPD spending is being cut and there is a crisis in recruitment so this situation is only going to get worse.  The route into teaching is in chaos, with subject courses closed without any comprehension of the geographical location or the standard of these new trainees.

6   What approaches do schools intend to take to manage challenges relating to the teaching of EBacc subjects?


Those in HTRT have decided not introduce the Ebacc outlined  in this proposal.  However, an alternative to retraining teachers would be to support schools in workforce restructuring through the department bearing the full costs of enhanced redundancy or early retirement programmes for teachers whose subjects are being removed from or reduced in the curriculum.  In very real terms possibly the most helpful approach would be for the Secretary of State to resume responsibility and be held fully accountable for ensuring there are sufficient high quality teachers, with the required balance in terms of phase and subject expertise, to enable all schools to be fully staffed.  Whilst both the retraining and restructuring options are possibilities they would merely serve to emphasise the unnecessary wasteful and inappropriate focus of time, workload and limited funding on implementing the unnecessary EBacc.  These resources could be put to better effect and to actually benefit pupils and their education.

7  Other than teacher recruitment, what other issues will schools need to consider when planning for increasing the number of pupils taking the EBacc?


The students’ decisions for their study.  Their propensity to be successful in an Ebacc curriculum to give them access to the next stage of their lives.  To recognise the shortages in skills that the UK is suffering and to stop the desired political outcomes for pupils to be a Russel Group university.  We have to recognise the purpose of education is wider than this narrow target.  Many countries do have better outcomes in academic targets, but this isn’t wholly down to an academic curriculum.  What % of the outcomes for some of these cities or countries is down to the family or the huge amount spent on tutoring.  Why is it that droves of Chinese HTs visit every year to look at our approaches to creativity in education.  Yes we agree that for some of our students an academic curriculum is correct, this is why there is now close to 40 % being entered for the Ebacc and 1,000s more taking STEM subjects.  This has been due to schools deciding what is best for their students.  There is still no evidence that the Ebacc suite makes students more successful in later life and there is plenty of evidence that not taking the facilitating subjects at KS5 doesn’t limit your university choices going forward.  Our most disadvantaged pupils are always worse served by exclusive performance measures like the EBacc.

Schools have always varied over the level of choice given to individual pupils in Key Stage 4.  Outside of a reasonable and flexible core academic curriculum this is best determined at a local level by school leaders and governors knowledgeable about their intake, the aspirations and aptitudes of their young people.  It has also been known in advance by parents when choosing a school for their child.  Some schools have provided significant choice to pupils with three or four options but this is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Alongside the local choice offered to parents and their children is the ongoing need for all subjects to be taught well.  This is less likely as staff shortages appear in key EBacc subjects and across schools or people teach outside of their core subject pedagogical knowledge base.

Whilst the EBacc should remain an option for students, it always has been, there is a need to establish a wider more inclusive baccalaureate framework.  I would recommend the National Baccalaureate Framework, developed by the HeadsRoundTable Group which brings together core learning, an individual project, a personal development programme and additional qualifications and achievement.

8  What additional central strategies would schools like to see in place for recruiting and training teachers in EBacc subjects?


We want the universities to take control of the ITT programs.  That the recruitment of ITT is based on local needs as well as national.  If we want a highly trained and a research evidenced profession closing the Departments of Education in universities is hardly going to create that.

9   Do you think that any of the proposals have the potential to have an impact, positive or negative, on specific students, in particular those with ‘relevant protected characteristics’? (The relevant protected characteristics are disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.) Please provide evidence to support your response.


Anything that narrows choice will have an effect on these groups.  However our experience is that there are students from all groups capable of being successful in a narrow academic curriculum as well as those who won’t be.

10   How could any adverse impact be reduced to better advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share it? Please provide evidence to support your response.


To not introduce the Ebacc in this guise.


Please feel free to use any part of this as part of your response.  Please encourage parents to respond.

A real alternative –

There has been plenty written on this and we would recommend that you check out these blogs:

Towards a Proper English Baccalaureate

Time to Respond to the EBacc Consultation

A period of calm and stability… and the Ebacc

and from a long time ago:



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One thought on “Consultation on Implementing the English Baccalaureate – HTRT Response

  1. […] See Also:  Heads’ Roundtable response: […]

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