Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beyond the Ebacc - Choice and Opportunity in Education

Liberal Democrats think all young people deserve to leave school having achieved and learned to the best of their ability.

Our regional project Beyond the Ebacc has been thinking how this might be achieved in 2015 - following the next general election.

The coalition has introduced the English Baccalaureate which rewards young people for studying English, Maths, Sciences, Foreign Languages and history or geography. Last year just 16 per cent of young people achieved this - and the government now predicts that within two years 47 per cent of 16-year-olds will be taking these subjects. Fewer than half.

We think we can do better - a great deal better.

An Open School

This idea came to us from an educationalist - we think it could unlock student choice and diversity in teaching.

It's not like the Open University - offering stand alone courses and qualifications.

But it could offer "bolt on" courses to schools.

It would be mainly virtual, using IT for teaching. In some cases where schools have a minority of students interested in a particular module, they would study that module through the Open School.

In other cases, it would offer teacher training and resources, enabling teachers to offer their students a wider range of modules.

Your ideas?

To bacc or not to bacc?

One of the key issues we want to reach a conclusion on is the extent to which the English Baccalaureate should become a portfolio (ie a single) qualification.

We recognise the present Ebacc seeks to achieve two things:
1/ it ensures "academic" subjects, especially languages, are on the curriculum of most if not all schools; this is what we call entitlement - ensuring all students have access to these subjects.
2/ it seeks to set the benchmark students should achieve if they are to go on to do academic subjects at university - that's the portfolio bit - a recognisable qualification.

Previous Lib Dem policy sought something similar via a diploma - but unlike the Ebacc it did not specify the subjects to be included to the same extent.

Our Ebacc2 proposal merges the two.