Pupils fail to hit new academic targets

Secondary schools have turned their backs on traditional academic subjects in favour of other options, new league tables suggests.

They show that low numbers of pupils in many of England's secondaries are achieving the Government's flagship new "English Baccalaureate".

The measure, included for the first time this year, shows how many pupils are gaining at least a C grade in English, maths, science, either history or geography, and a language.

An analysis of the tables suggests that at more than 3,000 schools less than half of teenagers reached the "English Bacc" benchmark. More than 300,000 children in total are taught at these schools.

The low numbers suggest that schools have been turning to other qualifications, such as vocational courses, which are often seen as "softer" options, rather than stick to traditional subjects.

It has previously been suggested that around one in six pupils nationally will achieve the "English Bacc" threshold.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate after saying last year he was "worried" by the decline in the number of students taking GCSE sciences and languages under the current system.

But headteachers have expressed fury that the measure has been included in this year's tables, just two months after it was officially confirmed.

They have said it is "unfair" on schools to bring the measure in so quickly.

A league table of the top 200 schools in terms of the Baccalaureate puts Bishop Wordsworth's Grammar School in Salisbury top, with 98% of pupils achieving the measure.

Headmaster Stuart Smallwood said the school, which caters for boys aged 11-18, has always had a "traditional academic curriculum".

He said he was in favour of "the traditional approach" and that it was "probably right" that Mr Gove has introduced the Baccalaureate.

But he acknowledged there had been some "disquiet" amongst some headteachers about its introduction, which he said may not have been done in the best way.

"It's a bit like asking you to take an exam syllabus and then saying the exam's changed.

"To be fair, schools should probably have been given warning so that they could, if they wanted, make any adjustments to their curriculum."

He said that giving pupils a broad curriculum up to GCSE allows the school to see how they are doing, and allows pupils to keep their options open.

At Dartford Grammar School, some 97% of boys attained the "English Bacc" measure.

Headmaster John Oakes said: "At Dartford Grammar School we are convinced that the English Baccalaureate at GCSE prepares students extremely well for the broad and balanced demands of the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in the sixth form, an excellent route to future success at university and beyond.

"We are pleased that the new English Baccalaureate benchmark recognises the importance of languages - the most under-valued area of the English curriculum."

But Ian Johnson, principal at Marlowe Academy, which came third from bottom in terms of percentage of pupils achieving five Cs at GCSE including English and maths, raised concerns.

"In the current year about 10% have a chance to get the English Baccalaureate. We can't change what the students are studying in the middle of the year," he said.

"We are making changes for students due to begin GCSE studies in September.

"I think the focus on English, Maths and Science is right, but why humanities has to be History or Geography is a mystery.

"Whether the English Baccalaureate is right for students of all types is questionable.

"I think for some students it's an appropriate curriculum, but for others it isn't."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) previously told BBC online that the "English Bacc" was a "retrospective indicator".

"It's an indicator over which schools have no control as it was not in place when the children concerned studied for their exams," he said.

"This is going to disadvantage schools in poorer areas. This is a very academic qualification."

A further analysis of the figures suggests that, at around 2,500 secondaries, fewer than a quarter (25%) of pupils are achieving the English Bacc. This figure includes private schools.

This suggests that estimates that 15% of teenagers nationally will meet the benchmark are on target.

Around 3,950 schools are included in today's tables, excluding those that are closed.

The majority of schools listed in the tables are state schools.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

h2 Recruit Ltd: New Business Sales Manager - Talent Management - £60,000 OTE

£35000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A true market leader in ...

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Maths Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: We are currently recruiting f...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?