I know that many teachers, businesses, parents and pupils have expressed concern that the range of subjects included in the Government’s English Baccalaureate undermine the teaching of creative subjects in our schools and lead to fewer young people having the opportunity to study them.

Creative industries play a very important part in the UK’s culture as well as making a vital contribution to the economy and I believe the combination of technical and creative skills in the creative industries is crucial. I understand that concerns have been raised by many in the industry that the exclusion of creative subjects from the EBacc could have a serious long-term impact. Young people have the right to a programme of study that prepares them for the modern world, with a strong connection to the needs of the economy.

I am aware that the independent education charity Edge Foundation, chaired by Lord Baker of Dorking, recently published a report on ’14-19 Education: A New Baccalaureate’ which proposes an alternative, broader, Baccalaureate. I understand that the proposed Baccalaureate would include a creative GCSE option choice – including music, dance and drama – and a choice between design and technology GCSE or an approved technical award.

I would like to see a broader-based process for curriculum development that links better to the needs of business, society and the knowledge and skills we need for a strong economy. It is right that every student should have the opportunity to take all EBacc subjects if they want to, but I do not believe it should be compulsory. I am concerned the EBacc adopts too narrow a definition of rigorous academic study and believe it is important young people have the opportunity to study creative, artistic and technical subjects such as music, art and design and teachers should be allowed to help pupils of all abilities to achieve their best.

The Government published a consultation in November 2015 seeking views about its proposals on how to get at least 90% of pupils to take GCSEs in the EBacc subjects.

I hope that the Government will reflect on the responses they have received to the EBacc consultation, and give more thought to the effects of their proposals before it is too late.

Published 02/11/16

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