Narrow curriculum 'will not equip learners for digital age'
Lord Baker, the former Conservative Education Secretary, has expressed concerns about the EBacc, saying the range of academic subjects offers too narrow a curriculum for many pupils.
The Tory peer, who was Education Secretary between 1986 and 1989, said the emphasis on a small number of subjects would not help the Prime Minister to boost social mobility, nor equip pupils with the skills for the modern workplace.
In a report published today by the Edge Foundation, 14-19 Education: A New Baccalaureate, Lord Baker, the Foundation’s Chairman, said: “This narrow academic curriculum is regressive and will severely limit learning of the technical and creative subjects we desperately need in our new digital age.” The report said the introduction of the EBacc meant that the curriculum was old fashioned and similar to that studied in 1904.
It went on to state that current government policy meant that pupils had little opportunity to study subjects such as design and technology, music and art, which are the ‘very subjects that give young people the creative and technical skills that will be most in demand from employers’.
Instead, the report proposes a broader baccalaureate which would include English and maths; two sciences, one of which could be computer science; a creative GCSE such as music, dance or drama; a humanities subject such as history, RE or a foreign language; and a design and technology GCSE or approved technical award.
The report said that there was currently an artificial divide at 16 between academic and vocational education, but the introduction of a more unified phase of learning up to the age of 19 would allow every student to meet their potential.
Lord Baker, who was the architect of the University Technical Colleges, also admitted his regret that, when he introduced the national curriculum in the 1980s, he did not end it at the age of 14 to allow pupils to study a range of subjects.
He said: “A narrow-minded view persists that ‘technical’ and ‘vocational’ forms of education are for those who fail to achieve academically. In reality, the countries with the lowest youth unemployment and the most highly skilled workforce are those where technical subjects are studied side-by-side with academic subjects.”
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