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.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SEN Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently seeking a ...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

BEAT Instructor

£70 - £87 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Teachers with a passion for PSH...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor