Call for 'sixth pillar' for EBaac

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The Independent Online

Music experts today launched a fresh appeal for the Government to revamp its flagship English Baccalaureate to include creative and cultural subjects.

The EBacc is awarded to teenagers who score at least C grades in English, maths, science, history or geography and a modern foreign language at GCSE.

But the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Music Teacher magazine, says it should include a "sixth pillar" which would allow pupils to take a cultural or creative option.

This would make it similar, the experts argue, to the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Under the IB, which is often seen as an alternative to A-levels, pupils study six courses.

This includes five subjects from the areas of languages, social studies, experimental sciences, and maths. They can then choose another subject from one of these groups, or an arts subject.

The ISM and Music Teacher magazine is calling on the public to help campaign to get music included in the EBacc by writing to their MP.

A template letter, provided by the groups, says: "I am deeply concerned at the current omission of music and other creative subjects from the English Baccalaureate."

It refers to a report by the Commons education select committee, published last month, which called for ministers to review the EBacc subjects after the national curriculum review is over.

"Will you, as my MP, support the recent education select committee's report which called on the Government to review its initial subject choice for the English Baccalaureate?" the letter says.

It later adds: "And will you join calls for music to be included as part of a sixth 'pillar' of creative and cultural subject options, to address the omission of music and other creative subjects?"

The call comes just days before teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results, and less than two weeks before GCSE results are published.

The ISM claimed its own figures show that 60% of those working in schools have already notice a negative impact on music education since the EBacc was introduced, with 77% saying fewer pupils are picking music as an option.

ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts, said: "We want to see music included in the English Baccalaureate as part of a sixth pillar of creative and cultural subject choices.

"Not only is music challenging and enriching as a subject in schools, but to forget music at GCSE level is to forget the creative, social, academic, economic, emotional and intellectual benefits of an excellent music education; this is to say nothing of its own unique musical value."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The EBacc is there to make sure that every single child gets a chance to study the core academic subjects which top universities demand. But the EBacc is not the be all and end all. The White Paper made clear that this is 'only one measure of performance and should not be the limit of schools' ambitions for their pupils'.

"We've protected £82.5m funding for music services this year and are reforming the system so money is targeted where it is needed most in the future."