Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The English Baccalaureate and our home educated children.

The emergence of the new English Baccalaureate is causing quite a stir within the home educating world.
Finally the Education Secretary et al have accepted that the current GCSEs are not providing our children with a decent standard of education and they are full of flaws. At last! However their proposals are meeting with criticism too as they aim to limit choices drastically.

Michael Gove announced his great idea to liken the GCSE-style exam to that of the old (and wholly agreed) tougher O'level. Already home educators like myself are using the IGCSEs anyway so we're not unfamiliar with a far harder and more rigorous exam, yet this is what the Government now want to introduce into every school too.

Gove has suggested an entire new exam system with only one single board, no coursework (with the exception of science apparently and some languages) and to call this the English Baccalaureate. It will consist of children being required to choose between five subjects including Maths, English, a language, a science and history or geography.

It segregates the more 'academic' subjects from the other more practical subjects like Art, Home economics, DT, etc. Other subjects will be introduced once the core subjects are underway.

To add to the confusion I read in an article from the Telegraph (attached below)  that the English Bac already is in existence (2011 it was declared) if the child should have these five subjects I'm not quite sure what exactly constitutes the actual  'future' Baccalaureate.

As they introduce these different exams and qualifications my question is what will happen to the IGCSEs? How will home educated children be affected? Will they also eliminate the core papers of the IGCSE exams too, making it tougher for those who find some subjects very hard?

It seems, yet again, to be more concerned with the grades (talk is that they'll opt to use the actual percentage rather than a grade) and if they eradicate any kind of core paper it won't allow a less able student a fair chance surely?

How just and fair are these new proposals?

and to be unbiased!;

Will you consider the English Baccalaureate for your child, and do you suppose it to be a fairer and more demanding qualification?


  1. I just heard on the radio t'other day, Wales is opting out of the eBacc and keeping their existing system, I can't see the IGCSE dissapearing out here.
    Also, reading the Edexcel site, their bumff discribes the now called 'International GCSE' as designed for international students. I think it will stick around it has a different remit than the standard school exams.
    Just filling in exam entry forms for my eldest daughter, first guinea pig takes the plunge, just a bit scared!!

  2. It is interesting Wales is opting out.

    You're right, it makes no sense for them to eradicate the IGCSEs as children all over the world take them; this was their main purpose.

    Thank you for writing and best of luck to your daughter for her forthcoming exams! God bless.

  3. Posted for a friend;

    Some of you may heard items on yesterday's news about the House of Commons Education Select Committee's many concerns about the English Bacc proposals, in particular their concluding sentence " We call upon the Government to pay the most serious attention to the concerns expressed by experts in the field and to slow down the pace of reform. "

    This committee is chaired by Conservative MP, Graham Stuart, one of the people to whom I wrote with my concerns about the changes. Today I received a reply from that committee stating: " Your letter and the points you raise have helped to inform the Committee’s deliberations on this matter, so we are grateful to you for taking the time to write." I'm not in any way seeking to claim that I had anything other than the tiniest of influences but there is a hint that it is worth taking the trouble, providing you communicate with the right people ( and ignore Gove!! ). So I guess this is one more plea to use any channels you have to inform others and to continue to build up pressure on the current regime.

    Below I've included some further links for your delectation and further enlightenment!!


    News reports on the Education Select Committee report

    ( and lest you think that is a typical BBC piece of left-wing inspired drivel ) this piece on Sky News

    The link to the actual report- best to go initially to the summary page ( and then reread the DfE's 'thoughtful' response!! )

    A wonderful analysis of current problems and an interesting proposal suggesting a way forward

    Yet another opportunity to let off steam as a way of coping with the frustrations of Gove-land ( and the hope of a Russian winter )

  4. Dear Amanda,
    Thank you for bringing together information about these proposals and developments.
    By home educating we seek to provide an education which is suitable to the age, aptitudes and abilities of our children. We have the advantage over schools in having more flexibility in how we do this, having fewer children although a wider age range. As we look to exams I think we shouln't lose sight of what is right for each child. In schools exam choices are already limited by option tables. My experience of having one child at school at this stage is that the school did not push the ebac if a child was clear about why they had chosen their subjects. Some have a greater aptitude for languages or the arts. Whether at home or school, the exam system is daunting for many children while others will not have a problem. Exams rather than course work may make it easier for home educated children to have access to qualifications. For my children I will hope to find exams most suitable for them, thinking about the direction of further education and or employment.

    1. You make many valid and important points, Rachel. Home education always allows one to be more spontaneous and even choose subjects which may not be offered in the average school (Greek, Latin, etc).
      I agree that it is sad, and disappointing, that the system is resting so much on some particular subjects but not giving importance to other subjects which other children may have more strength in.
      I have been assured by a few home educating friends that the English Bacc will not affect our home educated children in terms of the IGCSEs, ie they should remain the same. However, a University or a college, may well 'demand' the English Bacc or some alternative, so say, a child doesn't possess a modern language among their handful of IGCSEs it may lower their chances of attaining a place some where etc. God bless and thank you for replying!

  5. Thank you Amanda,
    Yes languages is something to look out for. The English bacc may include latin as the language but some university courses want a Modern Foreign Language. So we need to check carefully what might be needed if our children may want to follow a particular course.
    Best Wishes, Rachel

    1. This is another ambiguity of the English Bacc- they state that classical languages are accepted, even citing this in one article, yet, as you say, many Universities require a modern language, and this is compulsory in schools it is our home educated children who are at (another!) disadvantage when it comes to applications etc.
      God bless.