CONTROVERSY is building around the Government’s new flagship baccalaureate in schools, with a Wearside MP raising concerns about its impact.
The measure, which was included in league tables for the first time this year, is being achieved by low numbers of pupils in many secondaries nationally, according to the figures.
Including the baccalaureate in this year’s tables has been deemed unfair by many headteachers and education bosses, who claim schools and pupils are being judged on a curriculum which has not been implemented yet.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, is concerned about the impact of the English baccalaureate, which shows how many pupils are gaining at least a C grade in English, maths, science, either history or geography, and a language.
She said: “The Government seems intent on rubbishing the achievements of staff and pupils across the country by imposing this arbitrary measure of success, which places a higher value on subjects like ancient Greek than it does on work-focussed subjects like ICT.
“The exam results show that Sunderland schools are taking big strides forward; our young people should be immensely proud of their achievements.”
Of the English baccalaureate, she added: “Schools in Sunderland, which are actually coming on in leaps and bounds, are being are painted as failing by the imposition of the English baccalaureate.
“Students in Years 10 and 11 who have already chosen their GCSEs are being told that if they’re not following this very narrow academic path, then their achievements aren’t as valid.
“This could potentially have a devastating effect on morale, and the headteachers I have spoken to are furious with the Government for doing this.
“Going forward, it will inevitably mean a shift in resources towards this narrow core of subjects on which schools will be judged, and away from vocational or practical courses and the students who benefit from them, as well as other activities which enrich school life.
“Young people in Sunderland are bound to suffer as a consequence.”
Meanwhile, a Durham school is celebrating after coming top in the county.
Durham High School for Girls has once again proved successful, with 98 per cent of the students gaining the top measure of five or more A*-C grades including maths and English.
Headteacher Ann Templeman, said she is particularly delighted the school also gained 85 per cent in the new English Baccalaureate.
Mrs Templeman, said although she, like everyone else, did not know they were going to be judged on this measure, she is delighted the school did so well.
She said: “We are really pleased to have gained these results. Covering all the tougher subjects right the way through school is something we have always done here.
“I think for the students to realise their full potential and develop their cognitive thinking skills they need to study the whole range of harder subjects.”
An analysis of the tables for England suggests that at more than 3,000 schools, less than half of teenagers reached the "English Bacc" benchmark.
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