Heads’ reservations over Baccalaureate

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HEADTEACHERS in Spen have urged parents to treat this year’s league tables with caution when scrutinisng schools’ results.

This year’s tables include a new measure - the English Baccalaureate for which students need good GCSE grades in English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography.

However the pupils whose results are included in this year’s tables chose their subjects before the Baccalaureate was introduced.

John McGee, headteacher at Whitcliffe Mount, said: “I respect [Education Secretary] Michael Gove’s wish to improve standards and insist on rigour in assessment, but I actually have significant reservations about it.

“Firstly I think it’s an absolute nonsense to introduce them retrospectively, because students whose results are being measured against the Baccalaureate were on courses when the government was encouraging diplomas and vocational courses. Therefore using the Baccalaureate as a benchmark on students who were not working towards it is a bad thing.

“I also think the Baccalaureate is a measure of academic success but it is a relatively arbitrary one and I don’t see how geography is of more value that IT, economics, etc. Are we expected to believe that classical Greek, for example, provides a more rounded education?

Spen Valley headteacher Toby Eastaugh said: “It is important to understand that the English Baccalaureate has been introduced retrospectively and should be treated with caution. Schools have had no opportunity to shape or alter their curriculum in response to this new measure.

“Over the next few years, many schools will see increasing numbers of students achieving the English Baccalaureate as curriculum changes take effect.

“We have always placed emphasis upon a provision that is challenging, engaging and enjoyable for our students. We hope people will take account of the full range of performance indicators. In 2010 students here achieved the best results the school has had to date; 74 per cent of students achieved five good GCSE grades.”

Mike Cook, head at Heckmondwike Grammar, added: “It is important to remember that this year’s students made their options choices three years ago, long before the notion of the Baccalaureate was ever mentioned, therefore students and schools could not have taken the qualification into account when making their decisions.”