A CHESTER headteacher has accused the Government of treating the teaching profession in a ‘shabby and unprofessional way’ with the introduction of a new measure for secondary schools retrospectively.
Jane Holland, headteacher of Upton-by-Chester High School, has described The English Baccalaureate (EB), which was introduced in October last year and used as a measure in league tables published last week as ‘ill thought-out’ and a ‘retrograde step’.
The EB has been awarded to students who achieved a good GCSE pass in English, maths, two sciences, a modern foreign language and a humanity subject of either history or geography.
The students who were assessed for the EB were unaware of its existence when they chose their GCSE subjects two years previously and only 15.6 % of pupils in English schools were awarded it.
The average in Cheshire was 18.4% and 22% of Upton’s pupils achieved the EB.
Mrs Holland added that the introduction of the EB had turned on its head all the work schools have been doing for the past 10 years. She said “We have been encouraged to broaden the subjects we offer to students and personalise the curriculum depending on a student’s aptitude, ability and interests.
“To introduce this retrospectively is most unfair to schools which have been working flat out to offer vocational qualifications which suit some students better.”
Bishop Heber High School in Malpas produced the highest percentage of pupils, 39%, who qualify for the EB, yet headteacher David Curry does not approve of the qualification.
He said: “It narrows the curriculum provision and is too prescriptive for some students. I have been in favour of the emphasis or priority placed on English and maths recently and expected science to be included in future performance tables but this has gone a step beyond what is reasonable especially in light of the retrospective analysis.”
Both heads would like to see a broader selection of subjects in the humanities section with Mrs Holland suggesting music, art, classics and media studies and Mr Curry proposing business studies. Both think that religious studies should be included.
Upton is a specialist humanities college and Bishop Heber an international languages college.
Mrs Holland added: “The EB is an artful way of measuring schools to see if they are offering a traditional curriculum. If we had offered this sort of curriculum two years ago we would have been asked why as we were encouraged to engage and interest all students.
“I am making it clear to pupils and parents that this is not an additional qualification but advise that it may be regarded for university entrance.”