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Chris Skidmore MP: Talking of exam results, this is also a day to celebrate the success of the Ebacc

Chris Skidmore is Member of Parliament for Kingswood and a member of the Education Select Committee. Follow Chris on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 12.46.31Today is the day that 600,000 students will have been nervously awaiting, as GCSE results are finally revealed. As everyone who has been through the stress of results will know this will be a huge moment for them, but it’s worth remembering that they’re not the only ones who’ve been keenly, and perhaps apprehensively, looking forward to these results, because these are also the first indication we’ve had of the success of the EBacc.

Announced in 2010 ,the EBacc performance measure was designed to encourage schools to push students to take the most academic subjects. The past obsession with 5 A*-C grades in any subject had led to some schools pushing students towards softer subjects where they’d be more likely to get a passing grade, denying them the benefit of a highly rigorous and testing education.

The measure demands that students take a core of academic subjects: English, maths, history or geography, two sciences and a language; subjects which will give students a demanding education and leave them best prepared for the next steps of their education and employment.

Well, the results are in, and Michael Gove can breathe a sigh of relief, because the figures today show clearly that the EBacc has been one of the single most successful education policies in recent times, successfully reversing the decline we’ve been seeing in take up of the traditional academic subjects.

  • History entries are up 17 per cent on last year, reaching 260,236 they are the highest they have been for at least 16 years, with 1997 the first year we have data for.
  •  Modern languages entries are up 18 per cent from last year, rising to 362,903, the highest they have been for five years. Compared to last year entries in Spanish have risen 25.8 per cent, in French they’re up 15.5 per cent, and German entries are up by nine per cent
  • Entries in the individual sciences are at the highest they have been for at least 16 years. From last year entries in biology are up 5 per cent, chemistry entries are up 4 per cent and physics entries are up 2 per cent.
  • Geography entries have risen 19 per cent from last year, reaching 222,852, the highest they have been for nine years.

This is huge progress to be made in just one year, and it will leave a lasting legacy. Tens of thousands more pupils are now benefitting from a more rigorous and demanding education. These students will now be much better placed as they go in to post-16 education having been pushed by their schools to reach their full potential.

While today in particular, our applause should be focused on the thousands of students who have achieved so much success after two years of hard work, we at least shouldn’t forget that today has also shown the Ebacc to be one of the great education policy successes, and that deserves some congratulations.


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