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More students are studying core GCSE subjects thanks to the introduction of the EBacc

By Matthew Barrett
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GOVE MICHAEL NW Figures released today by the Department of Education show that the introduction of the new English Baccalaureate is having an immediate impact - the proportion of pupils taking the core academic subjects at GCSE level has increased.

The English Baccalaureate, which was introduced in January this year, is achieved by pupils who obtain a GCSE grade "C" or better in English, Maths, a language, History or Geography, and two sciences.

The figures released today show that 

  • 33% of pupils taking GCSEs next year will be doing a combination of subjects that could lead to an EBacc
  • 47% of pupils taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing a combination of subjects that could lead to an EBacc
  • This compares with 2010, when just 22% of GCSE-stage pupils were entered for the subjects necessary for an EBacc
The new findings are concrete evidence that the take-up of History, Geography and languages, thanks to the EBacc, is increasing, and in doing so, is reversing the long-term trend not to take these core subjects.
The findings will be a blow to Labour's education team. As the Guardian reported earlier this summer:
"Labour regards the Ebacc as a "prescriptive and narrow" measure which deprives pupils of choice."

Labour's education team may also wish to consider the decline in take-up of the core GCSE subjects over the last decade.

For example, last week, the Joint Council for Qualifications published figures for GCSE results this year - which apply to students who chose their subjects under Labour - that showed that 180,737 pupils chose to study Geography GCSEs, compared to 194,599 last year, and, most strikingly, 240,310 in 2002. However, from September 2011, 33% of those taking GCSEs in 2013 will be taking Geography, compared to 26% in 2010. 

A similar story applies for History, where only 31% of pupils were entered for History GCSE last year, but from September 2011, 39% of pupils taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing History GCSE, which means the number will be back to the 1995 level.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said of the findings:

“Subjects such as physics, chemistry, history, geography, French and German give students the opportunity to succeed in every field. The numbers studying a proper range of rigorous subjects has been in decline.  Now, thanks to our English Bacc, that has changed. More young people are now following the courses which the best colleges and top employers value.  The Government is committed to raising standards for all children and ensuring every child has a proper rounded education.”


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