Gove defends EBac at heads conference

11 Mar 2011

 The Schools Secretary, Michael Gove, has refused to bow to criticism of the new school performance indicator, the EBac, despite being told by head teachers that it could lead to pupils being encouraged into inappropriate subject options.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders, Mr Gove said of the EBac: 'I love it as it is'. Despite complaints from people he said he respected, he said: 'I am not planning to change it'. However he did say he would watch to see how its introduction affected school curriculum options.

In his speech, Mr Gove did attempt to be conciliatory towards head teachers who had criticised the new performance measure. He said the EBac was 'not intended to be the "be all and end all" but simply to be another tool for judging school performance'.

He even conceded that it was not the government's 'most important measure' - that, he said, was the 5 A*-Cs at GCSE, including maths and English. 

Defending the EBac, Mr Gove said the choice of subjects (maths, English, science, a language and a humanity) was 'not arbitrary, nor nostalgic but based on countries that are often doing better then us'.

He insisted it was 'not a 1950's curriculum but was meant to get everyone to 'raise their game'. Moreover, he said, there was no reason why the EBac subjects should take up any more than 70% of the timetable'. 

Brian Lightman, General-Secretary of  ASCL, said he was not persuaded by Mr Gove's argument and his organisation would 'redouble our efforts' to produce a concrete proposal for a broader Baccalaureate-style qualification.

In the rest of his speech to ASCL, Mr Gove sad he wanted Ofsted to do more to celebrate the success of schools. He said: 'I'd like Ofsted to be a little less like the Spanish Inquisition and more like Simon Cowell, ready to celebrate that Britain has got talent.'




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