Education & Family

English Bac 'first of many accountability measures'

pupils doing maths
Image caption Schools' performance in the English Bac was listed in league tables for the first time this year

The English Baccalaureate is the first of many more performance measures to come, says Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

The English Bac marks how many pupils get five A*- C GCSEs in English, maths, a language, two sciences and either geography or history.

Defending its introduction, Mr Gibb said: "There will be more of these accountability measures, not fewer."

The benchmark has been criticised by teaching unions, which say it fails to recognise success in other subjects.

Critics say academic subjects, such as religious education (RE) and music are unfairly overlooked, while vocational subjects which can help to engage less academic pupils are not being valued.

Taking questions on the English Bac from the Commons Education Committee on Wednesday, Mr Gibb said it was part of the government's plan to give parents access to as much data as possible.

"We made it clear that we want more information out there - and this is more information out there.

"This is the first of many such measures we want to put in the public domain."


Mr Gibb faced criticism from the cross-party committee of MPs for introducing a "top-down measure" and not consulting more widely on what subjects should be included.

He said there had been no formal consultation process because the English Bac was not an accountability measure by which schools could be judged as underperforming.

Results are simply published in league tables alongside the established accountability measure of how many pupils pass five GCSEs, including maths and English, at grade C or above.

Mr Gibb defended the omission of RE from the new benchmark, saying the subject was compulsory in schools until the age of 16 and GCSE entries had increased from 16% in 1995 to 28% in 2010.

The English Bac would help reverse a steady decline in GCSE entries for geography and history, he added.

He said it would ensure that able pupils in schools in less privileged neighbourhoods would now be given the opportunity to study these core academic subjects.

Last summer, there were 175 secondary schools in England where not one pupil was entered for all five of the traditional subjects counted in the new benchmark.

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