I know that many teachers, parents and pupils in Ipswich have expressed concern that the range of subjects included in the EBacc undermines and sidelines the teaching of creative subjects in our schools and will result in fewer young people having the opportunity to study them.
Creative industries play a really important part in the UK’s culture as well as making a vital contribution to the economy and I believe that the combination of technical and creative skills in the creative industries is crucial. I would like to see a broader-based process for curriculum development that links better to the needs of all business, the arts, culture and society and the knowledge and skills that we need for a strong economy.
At the General Election in June 2017 I stood on a manifesto which committed to review the EBacc to make sure that arts are not side-lined from secondary education. It also pledged to introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England – worth £160 million per year for projects that would support cultural activities for schools over the longer term.
After 18 months, the Government finally responded to the EBacc consultation which it first published in November 2015. It has confirmed that it plans to press ahead with expanding the concept of the EBacc throughout the secondary school system.
I believe, it is essential that children have a firm grip of the core subjects at school, but it is just as important that all children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum which over two thirds of respondents to the consultation highlighted is at threat under the Ebacc.
I am concerned that the EBacc adopts too narrow a definition of rigorous academic study and believe it is important that young people have the opportunity to study creative, artistic and technical subjects such as music, art and design.
I will continue to make my views known to the Government whenever I get the opportunity to do this, asking them to rethink the Ebacc and to make sure that they through our schools deliver the excellent, well-rounded education that all children deserve.