Can we still have a balanced national curriculum with the Ebacc?

How can schools and cultural organisations work together to ensure the expansion of the Ebacc does not mean fewer students are able to experience high quality arts learning?

3 February 2016

We’ve been thinking a lot about the potential impact of the Ebacc on cultural education lately, with the government’s consultation on the Ebacc closing last Friday. We’d like to offer a response to the proposals which is less about the assessment measure itself, and more about what could be done to make sure that it does not result in fewer young people being able to enjoy the arts, especially those from more deprived backgrounds.

No one wants this initiative to mean a diminution in the breadth and quality of cultural education, so what can we do to acknowledge some of the challenges and think about how - as a set of professionals in the arts and in education - we might work to achieve the best outcomes for our students?

  • There is widespread agreement that all pupils should experience a broad and balanced curriculum which includes high quality cultural education. The expansion of the Ebacc may create conditions which are harmful to this goal and therefore we need to show leadership from all quarters to support schools in maintaining high standards of cultural education, and illustrate innovative ways in which schools can combine high levels of Ebacc entry with high quality arts and cultural engagement.
  • It is vital that all students have the chance to study an arts subject in depth at GCSE - we might need to be more innovative in the way that we meet this obligation in localities.
  • It is particularly important that students from lower income families, who may have more barriers to engagement with the arts outside of curriculum time, are supported to develop their interests and talents. Schools should be encouraged to have strategies for supporting these pupils in particular.
  • Consideration needs to be given to the measures in place to assess which schools are able to offer a high quality cultural education.
If you would like to read more please read our full reponse and let us know what you think.

Our Chair, Professor Maggie Atkinson, has also responded in a piece for the TES - you can read this here