Schools ‘failing to exploit E-Bac openings’

YORKSHIRE’s poor performance at the English Baccalaureate shows the region’s schools are failing pupils and preventing social mobility, an education campaigner has warned.

New figures show that parts of Yorkshire, including the constituencies of Leeds Central and Great Grimsby, have among the country’s lowest take up and success rate in the subjects needed to earn the qualification.

Dozens of schools are not entering any pupils into all the subjects needed to achieve the GCSE benchmark. In 44 schools across the region not a single pupil was put into all the necessary subjects. This included 28 state schools.

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Figures also show that Yorkshire’s top E-Bac performers were mainly private schools with just one state school in the region’s top 10 and one comprehensive in the top 20.

Nick Seaton, a spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education said: “These are shocking results for Yorkshire schools. It is obvious that if pupils are not entered into these subjects then they cannot pass them. Too many schools here are not really giving pupils a chance to succeed. These are important academic subjects which are vital for youngsters wanting to get into quality universities.”

To get the E-Bac pupils need to earn A* to C grades in GCSE English, maths, two sciences, history or geography and a modern language.

Mr Seaton added: “It is clear that the independent schools recognise the importance of these subjects by offering them to students while some state schools are failing pupils by not giving them a chance to go to a good university and be upwardly socially mobile.”

However the head teacher of a Yorkshire school where no pupils entered all the E-Bac subjects has defended the decision and said he is “heartened” by the low take up rate in the region.

Andrew Chubb, the principal of the Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, set up a national campaign to “Build a Better Baccalaureate” in response to the introduction of the E-Bac.

“I have no problem at all with schools being measured on five good GCSEs including English and maths but I do not see that the particular collection of subjects which make up the E-Bac are of any more value than any other collection of subjects,” he said. “At our school every student does religious education and we would argue that this has just as much value as history or geography and yet it is not included.

“What about art, drama and music? What about pupils who like design and technology or those who excel at vocational courses or applied learning?”

Mr Chubb warned that pushing pupils into certain subjects because the Government had made them a priority made it more likely that students could drop out of education once they reach 16. He said the school’s sixth form numbers had been boosted by tailoring the curriculum to meet students needs with some going on to top universities having studied vocational courses.

He added: “One on the one hand you have Education Secretary Michael Gove saying head teachers know best but then they have introduced the E-Bac which is pushing schools towards teaching certain subjects.”

New figures showing how many pupils are entered into and passed all the E-Bac subjects reveal Yorkshire has some of lowest success rates in the country.

A table of all the parliamentary constituencies reveals that nine of the worst 50 performing areas are in Yorkshire.

E-Bac results by council areas also show Yorkshire lagging behind. Just two of the 15 education authorities in the region outperformed the national average pass rate.

A Department for education spokeswoman said: “We want all children to have a broad and balanced education that includes English, maths, science, a language and a humanity. These academic subjects reflect the knowledge and skills young people need to progress to further study or to rewarding employment.”