English Baccalaureate and Bureaucrats

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.


Filed under Bad things happen, Our money

6 responses to “English Baccalaureate and Bureaucrats

  1. It’s all going to change anyway in terms of admission criteria etc. If an emphasis is going to remain on widening participation, and apparently it is, the BTECs, Access courses etc. are going to continue to be as important. But it’s going to be an admissions nightmare.

    I guess you’re going to be subject the new fees. Flip!

  2. I suppose my education as an engineer skews my perspective here but if it isn’t broken then why fix it? Then if you are going to fix it them at least plan out the process properly. If university admissions favour a student with a language, a humanity and science then A level colleges need to put this in place two years before and schools two or three years before that. At a minimum. Preferably you need to add a couple of years for early secondary education and a few more so that primary schools can introduce something to prepare children.

    What they shouldn’t do is change the rules so that pupils are penalised unnecessarily. Even worse than this is that they allow changes to accommodate pupils of differing ability and emphasis, like BTECs, to create a fairer and more encompassing system but then don’t follow this through properly. It is what we who work in project management call “not joined up”.

    The same goes for university fees. When I went to uni the government paid my fees and gave me money to live on. We got the option of taking a loan to help us. In a single generation this has been totally reversed so that pupils have to pay fees and get nothing to live on so have to take loans out. That hasn’t allowed people to prepare for the change so this generation of students don’t have the parental support that their children might expect and they don’t have the state support that their parents expected. Which is a bugger.

  3. Isn’t it all moot anyway? Aren’t standards being slipped, nipped, tucked and generally fiddled with, when we’re not looking? I think I’m even older than you; I left school with a handful of GCEs and a couple of CSEs and started work the next day. Ten years later I blagged my way in to uni and scored a degree. Four years later I had to do an HNC! My qualification in psychology was deemed ‘not appropriate’ to my job. Eleven years later I finished an MBA. My point is that even if you get something decent out of an education establishment, some bugger somewhere is going to change the rules so it doesn’t apply.

    • So you’re saying that bureaucracy is the order of the day rather than efforts, misguided though they may be, to make the education system fit for purpose? I just don’t know how you could even suggest such a thing. Honestly, Bren, I’m shocked to the core. Shocked and stunned.

      • I think my attitude is best summed up by the unoriginal phrase ‘No matter who you vote for, the government always wins’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s