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Leading arts figures condemn EBacc plans

Tamara Rojo. Photo: Jeff Gilbert Tamara Rojo. Photo: Jeff Gilbert
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Arts figures including Tamara Rojo and Arlene Phillips have signed a letter condemning government plans for the English Baccalaureate, calling on education secretary Nicky Morgan to halt the ‘restrictive’ measure.

The letter, published in The Telegraph, comes as the campaign to stop the implementation of the EBacc heads towards parliament, with a debate taking place in July.

Current plans, reaffirmed by the Department for Education in a recent white paper, include pushing forward with the EBacc, a seven-strong list of compulsory subjects that does not oblige GCSE students to study an arts subject.

The letter said: “The new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) will force pupils to be entered for seven narrowly defined subjects, restricting their opportunity to take rigorous, challenging GCSEs in a range of creative, artistic and technical subjects. Parental and pupil choice within education is being disregarded in favour of yet another accountability measure for schools.”

Signatories, of which there are almost 100, also include musician Julian Lloyd Webber, choreographer Siobhan Davies and actor Elizabeth Berrington, as well as Shakespeare’s Globe chief executive Neil Constable, Rambert chief executive Nadia Stern, UK Theatre president Rachel Tackley and Creative Industries Federation chief executive John Kampfner.

The principals of drama schools including the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts have also put their name to the letter, alongside the principal of the Royal Academy of Music.

The letter goes on to urge Morgan to “allow her predecessor Michael Gove’s eight-subject school league tables to settle before pushing ahead with a top-down mechanism that will put the arts and technical subjects at risk”.

The letter was also signed by Bacc for the Future campaign co-ordinator Deborah Annetts, who is also chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

Annette said: “The new EBacc proposed by the Department for Education will all but force pupils to study a minimum of seven narrowly defined GCSEs. This proposed curriculum excludes creative, artistic and technical subjects and will deny many pupils the opportunity to study a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.”

The proposed English Baccalaureate, re-announced in the recent Education White Paper, will require pupils to study a minimum of seven GCSEs: Maths, English literature, English language, double science, a language (ancient and/or modern) and history and/or geography. If a pupil studies triple science and both history and geography, this totals nine subjects.

MPs will debate the issue in the House of Commons on July 4, an event achieved after a petition against government plans attracted more than 100,000 signatures.

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