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.
We want to see:
- no more sitting at the back of the class, twiddling thumbs;
- no more of it being "uncool" to learn;
- an end to "gender gaps" between boys and girls.
We've set out three basic principles:
1.Students undertaking GCSEs should have real choices, allowing them to develop their aptitudes and abilities. These choices should be embedded within individual GCSEs as well as within the range of subjects on offer.
2. There should be a core entitlement, a minimum offer, to which all students should have equal access at the time they make choices about GCSEs.
3. So-called vocational education should not be a “second-class” offer. Indeed students undertaking supposedly academic subjects may benefit from having access to vocational modules, for example physics students undertaking practical electronic engineering.
You can read in our policy document, Beyond the Ebacc - Choice and Opportunity in Education, our ideas about how this might be achieved.
And the big idea? Extending student choice. Subject to achieving basic standards, find ways to encourage students into ways of studying that build on their personal strengths and interests.
We've gathered more ideas to back this up, consulting experts in our own region. Now we want more ideas and comments. Please contribute to the debate.