The official ‘consultation’ period for Michael Gove’s English Baccalaureate qualifications has now ended; though consultation was only ever about how the qualifications should be implemented. Not whether they should be introduced in the first place.
EBacc has met with opposition throughout the education sector, with the Financial Times (6/12/12) reporting even Ofqual having doubts about the design and assessment proposals for the new EBCs. Leading individuals from creative arts industries have voiced concerns about the potential damage to subjects like music and drama. Employer representatives have also been critical.
Now Equity and the Musicians Union have formed an alliance with education unions, NUT, NAHT and the National Union of Students and launched a national petition.
While primarily calling for a longer period of consultation and to properly engage parents, students, governors and the business community, the alliance addresses key areas of concern such as the exclusion of creative and vocational subjects from the EBacc core.
It also raises issues about the new EBC’s themselves, emphasising the dangers of a return to a pre GCSE two- tier system and assessment that will largely be based on an end of course 3 hour (‘essay writing’) exam.
It’s crucial that opponents of the EBacc sign the petition which now has the support of Labour front-bench education spokesperson Stephen Twigg. As well as starting a wider debate, giving the petition a high-profile can sharpen much needed discussion about alternatives.