This month, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the Buckinghamshire Academy for School Leadership (BASL) conference. This event was attended by almost all of the Heads and Deputy Heads from both primary and secondary schools in Bucks.

A recurring theme throughout the morning was concern over the English Baccalaureate and the choice of core subjects. I would like to see the E-Bac expanded to permit a larger number of humanities and creative subjects.

If we believe in a devolved education system based around Free Schools, then both teachers and pupils should be able to forge a core that most suits their strengths.

Therefore, I have asked Parliamentary Questions of the Education Department enquiring whether or not the scope of the E-Bac will be opened up. One answer can be found below.

Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will assess the merits of broadening the scope of the English Baccalaureate to include (a) philosophy, (b) economics, (c) religious studies and (d) other humanities subjects.

Mr Gibb: We are concerned that the number of pupils, especially those in disadvantaged areas, who receive a broad education in core academic subjects is far too small. Through the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, we want to encourage more pupils to take these core subjects and to bring about greater fairness of opportunity.

The English Baccalaureate is not intended to include all the subjects worthy of study. We recognise that study in other subjects will be just as valuable to pupils and we will encourage all pupils to study non-English Baccalaureate subjects alongside the English Baccalaureate in order to benefit from a well-rounded education. This is why we have kept the number of core subjects in the English Baccalaureate small enough to allow wider study. Subjects, such as religious studies, philosophy, and economics, which do not count towards the English Baccalaureate, can and will play a part in a well rounded, rigorous education. Achievement in these subjects will continue to be recognised in the performance tables as part of the A*-C measure and the teaching of religious education remains compulsory throughout a pupil’s schooling. However we remain open to arguments about how we can further improve every measure in the performance tables—including the English Baccalaureate.

I have most recently submitted a question on how the creative arts will be protected and incorporated into the E-Bac system. I will post the Minister’s response when I receive the reply…


  1. Steve,

    An English Baccalaureate is a lovely idea an’ all, but surely the point of the International Baccalaureate is that it is *International*—as such, it is far more difficult for politicians of any one country to dumb it down to suit short-term political gain?

    What is the point of substituting one set of debased exams for another? If the Education Secretary is serious about raising standards—and keeping them high—then why not adopt the International Baccalaureate?


  2. My daughter last year got 11 GCSE A* grades in English, Eng Lit, Maths, 3 Sciences, Greek, Latin, Music, Art and German. Does that sound like a good, academic, well-rounded education? It does to me, but not to Michael Gove. Just because she didn’t take the required “humanity” (geography or history), her results do not qualify for the Baccalaureate. Her A* grades in Greek, Latin, Music and Art do not count as much as would a C in Geography.

    This doesn’t affect my family now but I am concerned that schools will start to mandate History or Geography for all students in order to secure their place in yet another league table. Yet again, the unintended consequence is government micro management of educational decisions.