Stephen Twigg will today warn Michael Gove’s Ebacc reforms risk “ushering in a decade of economic decline”, taking Britain back to a ’19th-century education system’.
Addressing the North of England Education Conference, the shadow education secretary will say Gove’s planned introduction of new exams in 2015 could:
“…wreak serious long term damage to our economy – by downgrading skills that have powered Britain, such as engineering, computing and construction, and neglecting the creative subjects.”
He will warn the Ebacc Certificates risk creating a two tier system; those pupils who don’t pass their EBCs will leave with a ‘Statement of Achievement’ which “risks becoming today’s equivalent of getting a CSE” – employers and universities are likely to place little or no value on these statements, leaving young people more at risk of dropping out.
Twigg will say:
“We are already seeing some schools pushing their pupils with low attainment away from doing the EBacc subjects.”
“Where schools do not offer some pupils the opportunity to study towards the EBacc, this is typically because pupils with lower attainment are not offered the EBacc subjects; 63% of schools which do not allow all pupils to study towards the EBacc give this as a reason.
“This finding is consistent with the qualitative research: some schools explained that they targeted their most academically able pupils and encouraged them to study towards the EBacc, while less academic pupils were offered other pathways.”
The shadow education secretary will also stress the importance of schools ensuring students are “life ready” when they leave education:
“Developing character and resilience must be one of the aims of a modern curriculum. It means having an exam system that assesses the skills necessary to thrive in the modern economy.”
Mentioning the St Matthew Academy in Lewisham – which has a cadet force and is using ex-service personnel as mentors – Twigg will add:
“I was inspired by speaking to a 14-year-old girl, who talked about the fact that the mentor from the armed services had changed her life – giving her a sense of self discipline, rigour and helped get her back on the right track…
“There is a simple reason why some of the best private schools, and some of the best state schools too, focus on developing a young person’s whole potential. It’s because it prepares them for the future.”
• Twigg: Gove’s plans “both socially regressive and will take our education system backwards” – January 16th, 2013