Various reports in the media this morning investigate potential problem areas with the proposed new Ebacc exam and, in particular, the way it might marginalise sports, arts and culture and also cause problems for pupils with learning difficulties such as dyslexia are highlighted.
This is from the Telegraph on sport, culture and the arts…
New-style qualifications established to promote core subjects such as maths and science will be introduced at the expense of pupils’ wider development, it was claimed.
Heads insisted there was “more to growing up” than a grasp of academic disciplines.
The comments came after the Government published plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of new qualifications dubbed English Baccalaureate Certificates.
Courses will initially be introduced in 2015 in English, maths and science, with foreign languages, history and geography following 12 months later.
In a further move, ministers also want to overhaul exam league tables to measure school performance in the six subject areas – preventing teachers focusing on “soft subjects” to inflate their overall ranking.
But the new qualifications will fail to cover other disciplines such as art, drama, music, religious studies, design and technology and physical education.
A new “suite” of qualifications – to be announced at some point in the future – will be created to cater for these subjects, although they will not be called GCSEs or English Baccalaureate Certificates.
The move has led to claims that subjects outside the academic core could be undermined in the education system, robbing pupils of access to high-quality sport or arts.
It was also feared that a move towards end-of-course exams – at the expense of coursework-style tasks – would make it harder to assess performance in many of these subjects.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “There is an obvious gap in the new proposals – the need to encourage breadth of learning and development through participation in sport, culture, arts and volunteering.”
Meanwhile the Guardian has this on children with learning difficulties…
Michael Gove’s plans for English Baccalaureate examinations to replace GCSEs could discriminate against teenagers with dyslexia and other learning difficulties, it was claimed on Tuesday.
The British Dyslexia Association said a renewed emphasis on exams rather than coursework and the breaking of two-year studies into smaller units and the extra stress associated with once-and-for-all exams could disadvantage candidates with some learning difficulties. The changes would also damage their chances of going on to higher education.
The association’s chief executive, Kate Saunders, said: “Dyslexia is most often characterised by a deficit in information processing and working memory, speed of working and difficulty accessing and recording written information.
“Dyslexic difficulties can be exacerbated in an examination context, due to stress. This can make it particularly difficult for dyslexic students to demonstrate their ability, knowledge and understanding through one-off, timed examinations.
“These plans, should they be implemented, will create an additional barrier for dyslexic students to continue on to higher education. Course work is generally a much fairer method of assessment and constitutes a reasonable adjustment for these students.”