Education: Gove pledges to consider baccalaureate complaints

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday he might revisit the English Baccalaureate after acknowledging there were concerns about the subjects included.

The Education Secretary said he might not change his mind about the qualifications included in the flagship measure, but he would "take on board" constructive comments.

The English Baccalaureate (English Bacc), which was included in league tables for the first time this year, shows how many pupils are gaining at least a C grade in English, maths, science, a humanities subject (either history or geography), and a language.

But critics have expressed concerns that humanities has been limited to history and geography and say that others, such as religious education, should be included.

League tables this week showed that low numbers of pupils in England's secondary schools achieved the English Bacc. In total, just one in six teenagers, (15.6 per cent) made the threshold.

Mr Gove said: "There are one or two points that are being made about perhaps one or two qualifications that might count within the five pillars and I will look at that.

"That's not to say that I'm going to change my mind, but any fair point that is made, in a constructive spirit about how you can improve league tables, I will always take on board."

Mr Gove said a number of head teachers had spoken in support of the measure.

An analysis of the tables suggests that at more than 3,000 schools, less than half of teenagers reached the English Bacc benchmark, and at around 2,500 secondaries fewer than a quarter (25 per cent) of pupils are achieving it.

The low numbers suggest that schools have been turning to other qualifications, such as vocational courses, which are often seen as "softer" options, rather than stick to traditional subjects.

Mr Gove announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate after saying last year he was "worried" by the decline in the number of students taking GCSE sciences and languages under the current system.