More than a year after it was supposed to, the government has finally published its response on Implementing_the_English_Baccalaureate_
Since then, Nicky Morgan has been replaced by Justine Greening and the Ebacc has been slammed by just about everybody from teacher unions to employer organisations. Though government only sought views about the implementation and delivery it has been forced to admit that many of those who did respond want major reforms or continue to oppose the qualification.
Back in 2016, the government was still insisting that Ebacc participation would be a requirement for 90% of Key Stage 4 students by 2020, but since then the participation rate has remained at under 1 in 4 and as a result, schools have prioritised their Progress 8 scores instead. The Tories now ‘aim’ for 75% by 2022, but even this would appear optimistic – with entry numbers for modern foreign language (an Ebacc requirement) going backwards.
The Department for Education now also admits the Ebacc is not suitable for some students, notably those taking vocational options in university technical colleges, studio schools and further education colleges. While it will change the way in which Ebacc participation and completion data is reported in school performance tables, it isn’t going to tell Ofsted to prioritise or set Ebacc benchmarks for inspection grading.
Published at the start of the summer holidays, this is a weak and uninspiring response from a government trying to restate its flawed manifesto commitments, but with little confidence it can provide adequate resources or recruit enough teachers to get anywhere near implementing them. Opponents now have a huge opportunity to put forward curriculum alternatives.