It was only last month that we were at the younger Tadpoles’ school and listening to teachers go through Options. They spoke about the brand spanking new English Baccalaureate and about how they hadn’t yet had any guidance from universities, colleges or the Department of Education as to how important they were. For those of you who weren’t at the parent teacher event (and where were you?) the English Bac is comprised of English, Mathematics, a language, two sciences and either geography or history.
Back in the Iron Age when I did my options I dropped French like a rancid garlic sausage covered in flies and I didn’t have the option of learning German (which I wanted to do) or Spanish, Italian or Japanese. These are the only six languages that are spoken in the civilised world as you know and English is the only important one. At least that was how it was back in the day. Another thing we had, along with Technical Drawing, was the choice of doing Chemistry, Biology or Physics rather than Science but times change. You generally had a split between science and technical types (boys) and art and humanities types (girls) and I must say that I’m really glad that kind of silliness is behind us.
What concerns me though, on top of the seemingly never ending interference in education from state, is the setting of apparently random targets. Granted it is state education so they should oversee things but politicians are not educators and educators are the experts here. Someone in power might try listening to them. Just a thought. The Beeb reports that the English Bac is too narrow in scope. It ignores the efforts of those who are less academic and more vocationally oriented and it ignores those who do subjects like Music, Art or Ethics and Philosophy (the old RE).
It seems too that the universities are going to be pressured into altering admissions criteria to look for people with the broad education of an English Bac rather than those who specialise early or those who take alternate routes to their education. The Tadpoles’ school offers GCSEs but it also offers vocational courses like Mechanical Engineering and almost half the Options choices were BTECs. A BTEC doesn’t count towards the English Bac so are students who work consistently through coursework rather than take exams going to lose out on university places? Who knows? The government aren’t saying.