Head warns against narrow
focus of E-Bacc qualifications

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THE HEADMASTER of the Yorkshire school with the best results in the “English Baccalaureate” subjects has warned it is a very narrow way of measuring pupil performance.

The historic St Peter’s School in York saw 82 per cent of pupils earning the GCSE grades needed to achieve the E-Bacc in 2012.

To get an E-Bacc students need at least six A* to C grades comprising English, maths, two sciences, a humanity – either history or geography – and a modern foreign language.

The Government introduced it two years ago as a way of ensuring schools were encouraged to focus on traditional academic subjects.

A league table published yesterday shows that independent schools in the region lead the way in achieving the E-Bacc. Bradford Grammar was the second highest ranked school in Yorkshire with 81 per cent of its GCSE students making the grade, followed by the Grammar School at Leeds and Sheffield High School for girls where 80 per cent of pupils achieved it and Birkdale School in Sheffield where 77 per cent of pupils did.

Leo Winkley, the head of St Peter’s School, told the Yorkshire Post he was proud of the students’ success in these subjects but questioned how useful the E-bacc league table was.

“Once you put something into a league table and schools are being measured on it then there is pressure for them to respond to it and move around their resources to improve their place in the table.”

He warned this could damage subjects not included in the E-bacc, “such as RE, arts and the classics”.

He added: “It has got to lead to fewer students doing these subjects and potentially fewer teachers teaching them.”

Mr Winkley also warned that pupils’ education should not be reduced down to numbers in a league table but was also about the “cultural capital” they leave school with.

The E-Bacc is also the name being given to the new qualification which the Government plans to replace GCSEs with from 2015. The first E-Bacc certificates, in English, maths and science, will be introduced in autumn 2015, with the first exams taken in 2017. Certificates in history, geography and languages will be introduced at a later date. GCSEs will remain for other subjects such as PE, drama and art.