If you believe that music, dance and drama should be included in the new Ebacc then you should be supporting the Bacc for the Future Campaign . 17,000 people and 43 organisations have already signed the petition.
The Ebacc, as currently proposed by Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove and the coalition government to replace GCSE, consists only of five core subjects: maths, English, science, a language and either history or geography.
Campaigners fear that this policy will marginalise the creative subjects which are not included. They are arguing for the inclusion of a sixth strand so that every pupil also has to study a creative subject to pass the Ebacc.
At present the government proposals are set out and inviting comments – the ‘consultation period’ – until December 10. The Bacc for the Future campaign will then present the views of its signatories to the Secretary of State for Education, Secretary of State for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport and the Chair of the Education Select Committee, asking for the Ebacc to be reformed.
The campaign also wants its supporters to write to their local MPs and respond to the draft consultation using templates available at http//:www.baccforthefuture.com.
Bacc for the Future quotes Maureen Duffy, celebrated poet and author:
“What I remember most from my state schooldays was the poetry, the music, the annual drama festival and the art lessons, all of which have fed into my own writing life and none of which were available to me outside school. Every child should have the stimulus and chance to develop beyond the three ‘R’s and nurture the imagination which spurs the creativity governments profess to desire.”
And Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said: “We call on the government to craft an EBacc which is really fit for the future. While accepting the importance of rigour and standards, creativity is key to the economy and creating well rounded citizens who can actively engage in society. We need the creative subjects to be at the heart of our education system – not pushed to one side.”
My fellow columnist Simon Tait provides coverage too but I shall not be signing the petition.
The whole point of the Ebacc is to specify a minimum five subject core. And a core is only part of a whole. It is not intended to be the sum total of what every child should learn.
When the National Curriculum was launched in 1988, alongside the worthy but flawed one-size-fits-all GCSE, it was supposed to specify everything children should do in school from five to 16. The result, which has been incrementally added to, tinkered with and tampered at, ever since has always been unwieldy, unworkable, reductive and superficial. It has led to everything in schools being spread too thinly with the result that standards (as opposed to exam results) have been in steady decline for far too long. So there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that school students need those five in-depth basics first – but not, of course, last.
Five subjects will not take up the whole of a student’s time. What fantastic news. Schools will now be free – for the first time in decades – to do performing arts and other “creative” subjects properly. And there will be time for drama, music and dance within the school day.
We have to get right away from the idea that something is only worthwhile if it’s set for an examination. Remember Einstein: “What counts might not be countable. What can be counted might not count.” There is, actually far more scope for doing creative arts well if you’re not tied down by some banal GCSE or other syllabus anyway. And this is the moment to embrace that.
As it is, the Ebacc for the Future supporters are, in my view, hoist with their own petard. By demanding that these subjects are set for examination they are, effectively asking for all the miserable, limiting stuff to continue unabated instead of seeing this as the best opportunity for performing arts in education for at least a generation.